Although NBC’s cancellation of “Hannibal” had been announced just a few days earlier, the mood at the Comic-Con International panel for the psychological thriller was anything but maudlin. Instead, the presentation was a celebration of the cult-favorite series, with a little defiance thrown in for good measure.
Featuring creator Bryan Fuller, executive producer Martha De Laurentiis and actors Hugh Dancy and Richard Armitage, the discussion opened with a teaser for the remainder of “Hannibal’s’ third (and final) season, which connects to “Red Dragon,” the 1981 novel by Thomas Harris that introduced Hannibal Lecter.
“Entertainment Weekly” writer Jeff Jensen, who moderated the panel, then asked about the cancellation. "We're canceled on NBC," Fuller confirmed, "but we are still looking at some possibilities, including the possibility of a feature. Hopefully, we'll find a way to bring it back to you."
"Yeah, there's lots to think about," De Laurentiis added.
Fuller then walked to the front of the stage to accept flowered tiaras from a fan, which he promptly placed on his own head and those of the actors.
Armitage, best known for his role in “The Hobbit” trilogy, addressed his interpretation of serial killer Francis Dolarhyde, aka “The Tooth Fairy,” a character previously played on screen by Tom Noonan in 1986’s "Manhunter" and Ralph Fiennes in 2002’s "Red Dragon." "I started by going back to Harris' book," he said. "I had seen 'Manhunter' years ago, but didn't remember it, which is good because I didn't want it to influence me -- though I'll probably go watch it and 'Red Dragon' again now."
Jensen tasked Fuller about the line from “Hannibal,” "Spitters are quitters," a reference to oral sex. "Does NBC push back on anything?" Jensen said, "aside from giving you more episodes?" Fuller replied, "They actually missed that one."
They then opened the floor to questions from fans, many of whom wore white placards that read "Hannibal Forever."
Asked which outfit from the series is his favorite, Fuller said, "The charcoal three-piece suit. I actually had the costume designer make me one."
Questioned about his inspirations, he listed David Lynch, David Cronenberg, "the slickness of Stanley Kubrick," and Tony Scott. "I love visually aggressive filmmakers."
The panelists were then asked what they will miss about “Hannibal” if it isn't picked up by another outlet (Amazon and Netflix have already passed on the series). "I'm going to miss the Fannibals," Fuller said, using the term the show’s devotees call themselves. "And then maybe the cast." It was a sentiment echoed by the other three, with Dancy also thanking the crew.
However, De Laurentiis answered defiantly, "It's not over."
The Q&A concluded with a fan asking the panelists about their favorite behind-the-scenes moment from Season 3. "My favorite moments are the collaborations with the actors," Fuller said. "It's fantastic to work with collaborative actors."
"As we were filming the finale," Dancy recalled, "there was a moment when, it was really late, and the sun was coming up. It was a wonderful moment."
"My favorite moment is when they applied the full-body tattoo on my back," Dolarhyde said. "I got very intimate [with the make-up department]."
"And for me," De Laurentiis said, "it was when we were filming in Florence, because you have to film there guerilla-style, because you can't shut down the streets there."
Airing Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC, “Hannibal” concludes Aug. 29.