Scully takes on Hannibal Lecter
By Shannon Harvey
The West Australian : June 28, 2013
She took on aliens, monsters and conspiracy theories as FBI agent Dana Scully over eight seasons of The X-Files.
Now Gillian Anderson has switched the paranormal for the psychological in Seven's grisly late-night series Hannibal, which goes back to the events of Thomas Harris' first book, Red Dragon, in the series made famous by The Silence of the Lambs.
Anderson, who's also switched from Scully's famous red bob to flowing blonde locks, guest stars as psychiatrist Bedelia Du Maurier, who counsels one of literature's most infamous serial killers - Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter - without knowing his monstrous secret. Or does she?
"It's very elusive how they relate to each other," Anderson says in a noticeable English accent, having returned to live in the UK after growing up there as a child.
"You get little snippets of how they've known each other before. But let's not give away too much! They are plenty of surprises in store."
The dark, stylish, graphic 13-episode series focuses on young FBI special investigator Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), who seeks help from the brilliant forensic psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) to hunt down serial killers. Of course, Lecter himself is secretly a cannibalistic killer destined to become Graham's mortal enemy.
"Our relationship is quite separate to all those gory things that go on everywhere else in the series," Anderson says of her doctor-patient dynamic with Lecter, which pops up in the last three episodes of season one.
"It's like a little island that he swims out to once in a while, sits and has a little chat, and then swims back to his real life."
Laurence Fishburne plays FBI agent Jack Crawford, and other guest stars on the series include Eddie Izzard, Gina Torres and Dan Fogler.
The hour-long episodes slowly reveal an origin story of masterful manipulation. But it's not for the squeamish - especially when Lecter hits his high-end kitchen. He has a well-stocked fridge and freezer full of human hearts, brains, lungs, kidneys and tongues. And he has a well-kept book full of exotic recipes for frying, roasting, broiling and chilling all manner of human body parts.
While generally well reviewed, the first season has been a controversial one. A US cable channel pulled the series due to its violent and sexual content.
And series creator Bryan Fuller cancelled the US broadcast of the fourth episode - where kidnapped children are brainwashed into murdering their own former families - shortly after the recent Boston bombings. Fuller later said "It wasn't about the graphic imagery or violence. We want to be respectful of the social climate we're in right now".
Indeed Anderson, now 44, admits she had hesitations signing on to Hannibal - but not because of its graphic nature.
"I'm used to that," she giggles. "I was a bit dubious at the beginning because I wasn't really interested in going back to network television at the time. But it was only five episodes - not a full series - so I couldn't resist the opportunity to be part of such iconic literature. And I was keen to work with people like Mads and Laurence and Hugh.
"It also sounded like a lot of fun - and it has been."
Despite the controversies, NBC recently announced it had renewed Hannibal for season two.
Until then, Anderson will appear in the acclaimed BBC series The Fall, where she doesn't so much talk to serial killers but hunt them as a gifted detective in Belfast.
And while Anderson says her alter-ego Dana Scully doesn't follow her wherever she goes, she'd be happy to reprise her iconic role in a third film in the paranormal series. "I don't know if it will happen but I hope it will happen - it just needs to be written first."