The twistedly haunting, creepy and unexpected NBC series Hannibal is one of the best shows currently on television. With shocking revelations, psychological cat-and-mouse games, and intricately detailed murders, it certainly stays with you, long after it airs.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actress Caroline Dhavernas about (“Dr. Alana Bloom”) talked about what sold her on this re-imagining of such an iconic story, her faith and trust in showrunner Bryan Fuller, how Season 2 felt different than Season 1, the love affair between Alana and Hannibal Lecter (Mikkelsen), how her character might react if she knew exactly what she’s been eating, the moment that Alana finally gave up on Will Graham (Dancy), whether she ever worries about Alana’s mental state, what it would take for Alana to rebuild a friendship with Will, and how much the actors worry about whether they’ll make it through the entire season. Check out what she had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
Collider: How did you come to this? Did Bryan Fuller bring this to you and it was an immediate yes, or did you need some convincing because it is such an iconic story?
CAROLINE DHAVERNAS: Well, Bryan was a big part of it. I did Wonderfalls with him, 10 years ago, and I’ve always wanted to work with him again. What’s great bout Bryan is that he never forgets the actors that he liked working with, and he takes mighty pleasure into making you do the exact opposite of what you did before with him. That was really fun. Wonderfalls was a comedy, and Jaye Tyler was this underachiever who was always in a sour mood. And Alana Bloom is the polar opposite, completely. This is a drama. She takes care of people, and she wants to. She has this savior complex. It’s fantastic to know that someone believes that you can actually pull off the opposite of what you did before. Also, the cast was just fantastic. They’re all actors that I truly admire and really wanted to work with. I also know that Bryan’s writing is crazy and beautiful, and he would make this story his own. I thought it was possible to take on that challenge with him. It’s such an iconic story, as you said, with the books and the movies, that how do you make people forget, or at least buy a new version of Hannibal Lecter. Anthony Hopkins gave such a memorable performance. I think Mads Mikkelsen really pulled it off by being who he wanted him to be, with a much more subtle way of being evil and a dandy, and all that. So, it was a no-brainer because of all those reasons.
What appealed to you about this particular version of the character?
DHAVERNAS: Well, it was a blank slate. Alan Bloom is barely even in the books and the movies. I think he just has a line, here or there. So, there wasn’t much to draw from, even if I had wanted to. I think that was a very smart decision that Bryan made, with Freddie Lounds as well, because if he had not done that, it would have been a sausage show. It would have been all men. And he really wanted to make sure that the women in this show weren’t only the victims. I think that was really wise. There is violence to the show, and I think a female presence is really important, to make sure that we have heart, as well.
Compared to Season 1, did Season 2 feel different, or did it feel like a natural progression of what you did last season?
DHAVERNAS: Well, it was both. I think it is a natural progression. It was time for us to have more passion and more action in Season 2 than we had in Season 1. Mostly, the passion is what I notice, as the big difference. It’s needed. It was a very cerebral first season. There is, of course, blood and guts, but there’s more passion involved, so it’s even more interesting.
When I spoke to Bryan Fuller in Season 1, he was very sure that he wanted to show a romantic side to Hannibal Lecter and show his love life, but that was something that he knew he’d have to hold until Season 2. Did you see things heading down a romantic path with Alana and Hannibal, or were you surprised that was the direction their relationship has taken?
DHAVERNAS: I’m not surprised because in Season 1, there was that scene in the kitchen where Hannibal was hinting at a romance that they could have had, back in the day, that they didn’t have. But back then, Alana had a curiosity about Will, romantically, as well, so there was no mixing things up like that. But now that Will has done what he did and, at the beginning of Season 2, she believed that he did all of these things because he was sick, there’s no way she can go any further with that. She only wants to be there to help him because it’s such a dire situation and she’s the only one who seems to think about his well-being, before wanting to take or use him for some reason. The romance with Will was never a good idea for her. She knows that she has this savior complex, and that she would have wanted to study him and save him. And then, Hannibal comes along and he’s an adult and it’s a sane relationship for her to have. I think that’s why she goes to him. She may not be as passionate, stepping into that relationship, as she was with Will, but it’s what she wants for herself. Hannibal does everything out of pleasure for himself. He never seems to have empathy or feelings of love and affection, apart from Will. He does want to be Will’s friend, and I think he does have some love for him. With Alana, you wonder if he’s just using her, or if he is really having a good time. We don’t know. I don’t know if we ever well. It’s interesting to see that side of him, too. We’ve never seen him romantically involved with anyone. And Alana went to Hannibal. He didn’t have to do much. She’s the one who kissed him first, and who talked about this. So, I don’t know if he’s that evil, or he’s that good at being evil, that he can just let people come to him. And it all pissed off Will, which makes it all the more intriguing.
How do you think Alana would react, if she found out exactly what she’s been eating with Hannibal?
DHAVERNAS: I don’t think you can wrap your mind around it. It’s just so evil. I remember seeing the movie Hannibal in preparation for this, because I hadn’t seen it. And that scene at the table where Ray Liotta is being fed his own brain, I actually gagged. It’s probably the most horrible thing a human being could imagine going through. The idea of eating your own body is just yuck. You can’t comprehend what happened, if you know that someone who supposedly has good intentions made you go through that. They are all being chic and fancy about the food that they’re eating, but little did they know. I wonder what human flesh tastes like. I guess that Hannibal is such a good cook that he can make anyone or anything taste good.
What would you say was the moment that Alana finally gave up on Will?
DHAVERNAS: I think it happened when he tried to kill Hannibal. The Encephalitis is gone. He has no excuse anymore. According to her, his only instinct to kill happened when he was sick. But then, he was not sick and he went for Hannibal, who he thinks is guilty, but who Alana, of course, thinks is not guilty, at all. That’s when she started to question whether Will ever told the truth. As soon as he attacked someone that she is very close to and loves, there was no going back, in her mind, at that point.
Is Hannibal just that good with hiding who he is from Alana Bloom?
DHAVERNAS: They get closer and closer, so it’s hard for her to see anything. She’s just too close. Even though Will is trying to warn her, in her mind, he’s become a crazy man, so she’s not going to listen to a crazy man. He’s pointing fingers at her lover, and he could be speaking out of jealousy.
After having a relationship with Will and thinking that he’s a killer, and then falling into a relationship with Hannibal, do you ever worry about Alana’s mental state?
DHAVERNAS: Yeah, I guess so. She’s surrounded by darkness, all the time, but she’s is a bit of a ray of light, in that world. She’s one of the rare characters who doesn’t give into it and who doesn’t explore that darkness. She’s there to make justice happen, and to help the people that she loves. I think she’s very strong, though. She has a quiet strength about her. So, I think she’s going to be okay. Sometimes I really wish she would just drop it all and go to Florida for a month. I don’t know why I just chose Florida. There are much better beaches that she could go to.
Could Alana ever rebuild her friendship with Will? What do you think it would take for that to happen?
DHAVERNAS: I think it would take incredible circumstances and proof that trying to kill Hannibal did not come from him. At this point, there’s not much that could happen to make her change her mind. But, it is a roller coaster. We always hear things that contradict what we’ve just heard. There’s a lot of flipping back and forth, and forwards and backwards, in what they can all believe in.
How difficult was it to lose a significant cast member this season, with the murder of Beverly Katz? Did you all go into this show knowing that some of you wouldn’t make it for the entire run?
DHAVERNAS: Well, Beverly Katz was supposed to die in Season 1. We all knew that. But then, Bryan loved Hettienne Park so much, he kept her longer and she passed away in Season 2. I love Hettie. She’s just so amazing. When we saw her go, it was really, really sad because she’s really a joy to work with, and she’s a hoot and so funny. So, it was unfortunate, but we all knew, right off the bat.
Are you always wondering about who might not make it through the season?
DHAVERNAS: We all know that we better do a good job, or else we’re a dinner away from not being on the show. We all know ahead of time, not exactly what’s going to happen in the season, but we have a slight idea. So, as soon as you know, then you can be slightly reassured.