Wednesday, March 6, 2013

SET VISIT: Hannibal has plenty of promise

Mads Mikkelsen is delicious as Hannibal Lector in the upcoming drama
I've been busy jetting to TV sets so far this this year--The Americans in Brooklyn, Package Deal in Vancouver, Graceland in Ft. Lauderdale. So it was nice to just jump in the car and drive 20 minutes to the set of a new series launching next month on NBC and City: Hannibal.
The prequel to the Silence of the Lambs films is wrapping its first 13 episodes in a converted warehouse studio in Mississauga, Ontario.The series has a unique broadcast blueprint; each season, should it advance, will consist of 13 episodes. It's a network show built on a cable plan. The series is set to premiere April 4.
Some local press, as well as a number of international journalists, were invited to tour the set Sunday and speak with the stars.
On set: the Feds finally caught up with me
The series is well cast. Hugh Dancy--married in real life to Claire Danes--stars as special agent Will Graham, a somewhat damaged college prof who has an ESP-like sensitivity when it comes to crime solving. He's brought into the FBI to help the head of Behavioral Sciences, played by Laurence Fishburne, track Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
If you thought Anthony Hopkins was unforgettable in this role get set for Mads Mikkelsen's take. The Danish actor, brilliant as a Bond villain in Casino Royale, plays a younger Lecter in this prequel to the movies.
Everybody's Wonderfalls crush, Caroline Dhavernas, plays another FBI consultant with connections to Dancy's character. They were all at the press deal Sunday and everybody seemed relaxed and friendly.
Hannibal's food stylist showing off her lungs
Judging from the first hour of the series, they should also feel confident. Hannibal is dark, scary and damn good, a much more coherent and engaging drama than NBC/Sony International's last shot-in-Mississauga effort, The Firm. Scott Thompson is also in the cast as a forensic crime scene specialist, and Fishburne says he keeps the cast in stitches. Gillian Anderson adds more marquee value later in the season as Lector's shrink.
Reporters were led through the standing sets--Lector's large, Gothic, Baltimore-based library/is impressive--and eventually gathered in the creepy character's kitchen. There the food stylist grossed us out with her nasty recipes for the show, many involving bones, bird skulls and cow lungs dripping is blood sauce. She uses actual cow lungs and revealed that they can last up to two hours before having to be packed back in the freezer.
Eddie Izzard guest stars on Hannibal
Mikkelsen was asked what food grosses him out. "Headcheese," he said. Good answer.
He also said he's been too busy to participate in any of the 50th anniversary of Bond exhibits and regretted missing the one downtown at TIFF. Fishburne says he gets recognized on the streets of Toronto and, yes, even by Cowboy Curtis fans from his long ago stint on Pee-wee's Playhouse.
Dahvernas talked wistfully about one year wonder Wonderfalls, which, shockingly was shot ten years ago. The producer of Hannibal, Bryan Fuller, was the creator of that delightful fantasy-drama shot in and around Toronto and Niagara Falls. Dahvernas says Fox did everything they could to derail it, dumping it into Fridays and messing up the episode order. What is she watching these days? Nothing--Dahvernas doesn't have a TV set!
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