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The Hannibal Finale Nearly Ended on a Gay Kiss, Says Bryan Fuller

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It has been almost seven years since the final episode of Hannibal, Bryan Fuller’s TV adaptation of Thomas Harris’ novels, aired on NBC. Looking back, it is impossible to overstate the intensity of this visually rich serial killer drama’s online fandom, much of which focused on the complicated relationship between FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and serial killer Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). Many shippers reimagined the adversarial push-pull between the two lead characters as a love story, a reading of the show made all the easier by the way Dancy and Mikkelsen played their scenes together.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner Bryan Fuller revealed that while it may have begun as accidental subtext, the romantic tension between Will and Hannibal was very much on the page as the writers’ room was penning what would be the show’s third and final season, which saw them reunite in their hunt for the murderer Francis Dolarhyde. He also disclosed that some drafts of the series finale even included a kiss between the two men.

“There were several takes and there was never any actual lip locking,” he said. “But there was a lingering [in one take] where Mads’s lips parted, hovering over Will’s mouth in a way that went on… For a while. When I was watching dailies, it seemed like an eternity. The issue for me was always, I didn’t want to make their love story expectational or artificial or forced. I always wanted it to be organic. I didn’t know in that moment if it would cross over into that level of physicality beyond holding each other, and there was something about holding each other and leaning in to each other and looking deeply into each other’s eyes that felt more authentic and more romantic to me than a kiss ever would.”

“But if I had to do it again, I might suggest to kiss and see how it played,” he continued. “But neither of the actors were ever afraid of going there. If there were any concerns, it was always just about the remaining authentic. That certainly was my goal because, yes, I absolutely wanted to see them kiss. That would be wank bank material for the best of us… But I was just really trying to maintain authenticity in the moment. The shot that’s in there felt the most authentic and felt like it struck the right balance. But if I could get back into the editing room, I might do something differently now.”

hannibal season 3

Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!

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This isn’t the first time that Fuller has addressed the queer elephant in the room. During a show reunion in 2020, he stated that he and Mads Mikkelsen shared a vision in which the iconic serial killer is most definitely not straight.

“From our very first meeting with Mads, he redefined the character immediately for me because he’s the devil. He is this thing both of the world and outside of the world. So for me, the devil is pansexual,” Fuller said. “I think Will Graham is a heterosexual character, but sexuality is fluid, and I think it would have to be a conversation where we would sit down and try to find… the most authentic expression of their relationship now.”

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