The long, painful wait for more "Hannibal" is almost over (Season 2 premieres Friday, Feb. 28 at 10 p.m. on NBC), but you can't start devouring the new season without a little prep.
Yahoo TV grilled "Hannibal" stars Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Laurence Fishburne, and Caroline Dhavernas (who play Will Graham, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Jack Crawford, and Alana Bloom, respectively), along with showrunner Bryan Fuller, and they were more than game to share a few tasty morsels… bon appetit!
That opening fight scene… just wow.
Fishburne: We shot that right away… for 21 hours. It was a lot of fun, and there's stuff that we left out. It was longer.
Mikkelsen: Almost twice as long.
Fishburne: There were two pieces of it that we just had to leave out.
But we'll get to see it eventually I assume?
Mikkelsen: It'll be a director's cut. [Laughs.] It's nice though — it's not everyday you get to do stuff like that in a TV show. You do it sometimes in films, and we love it, both of us, so it was like, yes! We felt young again! And then the next day, not so young. [Laughs.]
Fishburne: [Laughs.] "Are you sore here, too?" "Oh you remember, I had you against the wall!"
And the opposite of all that action is poor Will, stuck in a cell, only wheeled out in a cage for visitors. Is Alana still his only champion?
Dancy: Well, it's kind of a half form of championing, because basically she's saying, "I'm sure he didn't mean to." [Laughs.] Which is not full support really. Will is in jail and he's totally isolated. All of these guys have written him off — including Alana, pretty much — as a killer. And, of course, the only person who knows that he isn't is Hannibal. And Hannibal is also, against all the odds, still trying to persuade Will to be his friend. So yeah, he's in a pretty desperate spot.
Dhavernas: Alana doesn't question his heart — she knows that he was ill when he did what he did, and she wants him to just face what happened so he can heal. But yeah, I think there will always be a tension there… she's drawn to him, she wants to help him, and she's also very curious romantically, but she knows she can help him much better if there's a distance there. But when we start, she believes that he was sick, and then things will happen where she will start questioning that again.
You all have collectively managed to bring this very well known psychopath to life in a whole new way. Who are your own favorite pop culture psychopaths?
Dancy: Anthony Perkins in "Psycho." That was remarkable.
Fishburne: Larenz Tate as O-Dog in "Menace II Society."
Mikkelsen: Buffalo Bill [from "Silence of the Lambs"] was an amazing character.
Fuller: And a great performance — he'd be fun to get on the show!
Dhavernas: More recently, I guess, is from "Batman"… Heath Ledger's Joker [in "The Dark Knight"] was amazing.
Just from the first few episodes of Season 2, the characters have gone places I didn't ever think they'd go. How have you upped the ante?
Fuller: Where we ended on the first season was such a delicious place that it's a big springboard for the next season. First season, nobody knew who Hannibal was, and second season, one person knows who Hannibal is and is trying to convince everybody else who assumes that he's guilty of the crime. That gives you this sort of Hitchcockian "The Man Who Knew Too Much" dynamic. Another Hitchcockian principle is that by starting with the fight between Jack Crawford and Hannibal, this is going to get explosive. So we're essentially showing the audience: Here's the bomb. It's going to go boom. Who knows when it's going to go? So every time Jack and Hannibal are in a scene together, you're like, is this it?
[Related: 'Hannibal' Season 2 Photos]
Bryan, I believe you've said before that Season 3 will be Hannibal on the run. Is that still the plan?
Mikkelsen: Not running that much, he's just in the Bahamas. [Laughs.] Isn't that the deal? We haven't gone that far yet, so we can't ruin that part. But it doesn't look too good for Hannibal at this moment. But, as he always says: There are no problems, there are only challenges.
Fuller: That's the great thing about Hannibal is he is very reactive. He doesn't sweat. The very first meeting that Mads and I had, when we sat down, Mads was like, "He's the devil." So that has really informed a lot of the storytelling because we think, "Isn't it fun to see the devil get his due?" And to see how he's going to react — he's unflappable — but there are also scenes in this season where you feel terrible for Hannibal. Mads can do puppy dog very well.
Fishburne: Yeah, why would you want to hurt this guy? [Laughs.]
Mikkelsen: It came as a big surprise to Hannibal how much he was attached to Will, and now he's in jail. And for that reason, he's struck, he's curious — he's not normally a man that becomes open like that, but there's something about this man Will that makes him vulnerable as well, which is interesting.
The only other person Hannibal has been vulnerable with is his therapist, played by the fabulous Gillian Anderson.
Mikkelsen: Yep, and interestingly enough, we don't necessarily know why I am, because there's nothing to achieve for me in there, but it's a little sacred place where I can do what I want to do. Those scenes are quite interesting.
OK, rapid fire: What is the weirdest thing your character does this season?
Fishburne: I get to save my friend's life.
Dancy: Let's put it this way: We show how Hannibal got Will to ingest the ear.
Dhavernas: I get to play a really fun song on a weird instrument.
Mikkelsen: I get to kiss someone that you didn't see coming.
[Editor's note: The entire cast erupted in laughter after each person's answer… delicious.]
Spoiler alert! Skip over this last question and answer if you don't want to hear more details beyond the premiere episode.
Mads and Laurence talked about filming it, and we know there's more than what's in the premiere… what else might we see?
Fuller: We'll see what happens to Alana when she walks in on it, and we'll see… well, we continue the story. So we start that story in the first episode, and then we pick up what happens afterwards, and we keep reminding the audience that this is going to be bad for all of the characters.
"Hannibal" Season 2 premieres Friday, Feb. 28 at 10 p.m. on NBC.