BRIDE OF HANNIBAL
Gillian Anderson is the fellow psychiatrist joining Dr. Lector in unholy matrimony.
By William Bibbiani
Fangoria #343: July 14, 2015
Like most great ideas, the creation of Hannibal's Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier seems a rather obvious decision in retrospect. Since most therapists undergo therapy themselves, it only stood to reason that Dr. Hannibal Lecter - serial killer and cannibal though he is - might have one too. Clean, simple, unassailable logic. . .
No, no, it just won't do, because what kind of a person does a monster like Hannibal open up to, as much as he possibly can? The series has been addressing this question for over two seasons now, and the answers are - in true Hannibal fashion - not always comfortable. Like Hannibal, Dr. Du Maurier seems to get a little too close to her client, and by the end of season two, the walls of professional propriety had completely broken down. Off they went to Europe for Hannibal's third round, where they spend more than half of the season in a loveless marriage and a shared taste for the taboo.
Du Maurier is ruled by her emotions as much as everyone else in Hannibal, and yet, as she's one of the few recurring characters not found in Thomas Harris' original novels, audiences have little insight into the inner workings of her character. Fortunately, she's played by a formidable actress, Gillian Anderson, known to horror aficionados for her star-making role as analytical FBI agent Dana Scully on The X-Files and her recent leading turn in another acclaimed serial-killer series The Fall. We may not know much about Du Maurier, but as played in coy and yet somewhat somnambulant fashion by Anderson, we feel like we know as much as we're supposed to.
FANGORIA spoke to Anderson about her Hannibal role during her break from the 2015 Dallas Comic Con, hot off the social-media curiosity aroused by Hannibal's #BrideOfHannibal hashtag and reeling from the exciting news that The X-Files will finally return to televison in January 2016.
FANGORIA: So how do you feel about this whole "Bride of Hannibal" business?
GILLIAN ANDERSON: [Laughs] I think it's great. I love the way Bryan [Fuller's] mind works, and he always comes up with the coolest, funniest ideas and creations. To be a part of one of those brainstorms is a pleasure and an honour. I don't tweet, myself. There's somebody who tweets for me when I've charitable ventures, etc., or if if I'm going to be on a talk show or something like that. I don't check Facebook either, so I'm not around and I never hear what happens when these things land, you know what I mean? So I don't know what its impact was or any of that, but being a part of the process and doing the shoot - all of us, together - is appreciated. I don't know; from your standpoint what have the fans been saying in terms of what they think it means, or the relevance? Do you have a sense of that?
FANGORIA: I have my own perspective, which is that it is twofold. One, I'm sensing a profound sense of jealousy. . .
GILLIAN ANDERSON: [Laughs]
FANGORIA: And two, it's got this Gothic melodramatic attitude. It seems to speak volumes about where Du Maurier is going in season three. Everyone's going, "Oh, man! Bride of Hannibal? She must be cray."
GILLIAN ANDERSON: Well, it's actually a brilliant. . .not to say a twist, but it was a wonderful brainstance to be standing in before entering the season, because a lot of stuff transpires that, true to course, makes you go "What?!" [Laughs]
FANGORIA: There's some wonderful stuff in those episodes. In fact, when I talked with Fuller about doing this interview, he said he couldn't believe you managed to make the following line work "Did you watch as the wild beast within him turned from the teat and entered the world?"
GILLIAN ANDERSON: [Laughs] I have to say there are a lot of those lines. That's not the only one that was a little bit challenging to make it work. That's hilarious.
FANGORIA: He did say you were torn between a couple of projects when you shot this season, and that you spend a lot of time on set napping.
GILLIAN ANDERSON: Oh my God, yeah. Not napping, literally. We were about to get into the third, fourth, fifth scene of the day and it was the equivalent of 4:00 in the morning for me, London time, so I was struggling to keep my eyes open. I would just find a flat surface away from too many grips and lie down. I remember when we were doing the ball stuff, in that fancy gown. I was off on the floor somewhere. And also just to have control over my mouth when I was saying some of that dialogue. . .there were a few Red Bulls consumed in the process.
FANGORIA: Do you think that affected your performance in any way? Hannibal has a very unusual tone.
GILLIAN ANDERSON: It does, I mean, it's possible that Du Maurier is the way she is because I'm half-asleep, half the time [laughs]! It can't not, to a degree, have some impact. The show does have an interesting tone. I mean, it's like showing up for work knowing you're going to be presented with riddles and mind games and puzzles that you have to figure out to a certain degree in order to be able to make sense of the dialogue. Some of the stuff that's said is so cryptic, and yet so important to know, obviously, the gist of it in order to be able to deliver in a way that makes sense for the trajectory of the series. But at the same time, when it becomes 3:00 in the morning, your brain is going, "What, what the f**k and I saying?! What does this mean? I knew what it meant yesterday, I finally figured that out, but what is it?" You know?
FANGORIA: Du Maurier is one of the few characters on the show who isn't in the novels, so you've been building her out of whole cloth. Who is Du Maurier in your mind? What's your inroad into this character?
GILLIAN ANDERSON: [Thinks] I'm not sure. . .
FANGORIA: Or is that a terrible question?
GILLIAN ANDERSON: No, it's not a terrible question. It's a good question, but I'm not sure I should answer it, because if I get too heady and intellectualize the process too much in order to pick it apart, I'm always concerned that it will detract from that in some way by shining a light on it. She serves me best and she serves us best in part shadow, I think. And also, some of the ways I get into her are more of an energetic thing than, "I'm not going to behave like this because she's like this!" It's less obviously psychological and more intuitively psychological. I struggle with wanting to break her down too much.
FANGORIA: That's reminiscent of something Liam Neeson once said when someone asked how he gets into character. He said he just finds the walk, and then he's done.
GILLIAN ANDERSON: I do know that her clothes and her hair have a lot to do with her, how I get into her. Part of that is because. . .I just said recently in another article, but the truth of the matter is that at the beginning when I was working on her, I was doing three shows at the time, and all of them were blondes and all of them literally couldn't change very much because two days later I would be on set for another one. So having to get very, very specific with the hairstyles, and be honest in the trailer, going, "No, no, no! That's not Du Maurier! That's somebody else!" - it's being really specific about that, but it also affects how it feels on you. With a head of hair, how it's curled, I find, has an impact on what I think. Because that's all I have. I'm not looking at mirrors all the time on the set. I'm not referencing myself. Once I leave the hair and makeup trailer, I don't want to think about it again. So it's very important to me. And getting into specific clothes: When I was doing Crisis, [my character] mostly wore dresses, and Stella [in The Fall] wears separates, and Du Maurier is somewhere in the middle, but there's something that used to be quite old fashioned about the clothing choices she would make to go along with her 70's house and that living room. And there's also the balance with Hannibal. When they're in Italy, it goes in a whole other direction, which is fabulous. Bryan has such an extraordinary sense of that. He is 100 percent involved in the choices of character, and especially what Hannibal and Du Maurier are wearing. He has very, very strong thoughts and will present the costume designer with looks or whatever it is, he is right in there, a part of the creative process.
FANGORIA: In those scenes with Hannibal in Italy, there is a fabulous, disdainful, resentful, passive-aggressive tone. I don't know if it's Victorian or Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf or what. . .
GILLIAN ANDERSON: [Laughs] Yeah, it's funny. It's not quite Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, but yes you're right. It's so great you picked up on that.
FANGORIA: Fuller described it as "a grand camp element" What's great is that it can be picked up in both ways. People can get involved in the intensity of Du Maurier's situation - when is he going to eat her, and when is she going to bite his head off metaphorically? - and yet it's also quite funny. What was on your mind when you shot those scenes? It doesn't seem like a very positive marriage. . .
GILLIAN ANDERSON: Well, the thing is, there isn't an easy road into that. When you think of what the premise is, and that you've got intention and her own self-fulfilling prophecy as well as whatever addiction may be going on for her. . .and I'm not just talking about the [actual] addiction we find out about, but also addiction to that kind of attention and the danger. That's certainly playing out as well. She can't not put her hand in the flame. Then you've got that scene where Hannibal's sitting on the balcony in Florence drawing, and she comes out and they're talking in this slightly archaic, slightly rhythmic language. I'm always curious how much the fans truly understand the dialogue. Like "What the hell are they talking about?" Yet it's all part of the world of Hannibal, and you buy it somehow. It's about getting the tone of that right, given the circumstances. If you look at the heavy weight of what's happening, I guess it's about trying to figure that mindset out and deciphering it in order to make it seem remotely realistic that she would choose to be there in that world.
FANGORIA: You've been living with the Dana Scully character a very long time. Are you excited to get back into The X-Files? Or is it more like, "Oh, Scully's coming back"?
GILLIAN ANDERSON: I'm getting more excited the closer we get. I am excited! I don't actually feel like she's been in there, but that I've been waking her out of a deep sleep, in the process of going back into it. I have to do that in a few weeks, because of reading the scripts and preparing, all that kind of stuff. So she is alive and awake now, and it's interesting to think of her in that sense, of another being that co-exists. It feels like it's not going to be hard to slip back into her shoes again.
FANGORIA: One of the fascinating things about The X-Files' return is that when the show first aired, it represented very distinctive post Cold-War anxieties. We seem to be living in a different cultural milieu. Do you think the new show is/will/should respond to the environment in which we now live or that it needs to evoke everything it previously did?
GILLIAN ANDERSON: It needs to straddle the balance, and I believe that Chris [Carter, X-Files creator] had definitely done that in the first episode. There is still a certain and, we will find, justifiable paranoia there. But the direction that Chris is taking makes perfect sense based on not just where we're headed, but where we've come from as human beings on this planet and also as characters who have a history within the show.
FANGORIA: What are you thinking about as you get into the Mulder and Scully dynamic? For a long time there was a "will they or won't they?" attitude, and as of the last movie, it seems they finally got there. Do you think that will affect the tone of the show?
GILLIAN ANDERSON: No, I don't think it will. Chris has handled it exactly right, and people will be pleased with where we're at when the show starts.