I am really enjoying NBC’s new “Hannibal” series. It’s so creepy! I was curious if Hugh Dancy, who stars in it, had seen the movies.
—Tammy Tobler, Tallahassee, Fla.
Dancy was aware of all three movies based on the novels by Thomas Harris—”Manhunter,” “Red Dragon” and “Silence of the Lambs”—but he actually went back to the books and, of course, the script to create his version of his profiler character, Special Agent Will Graham.
“Will is certainly not easy going, he’s probably not great company, and he’s fairly shut off,” says Dancy, 37. “The challenge is not to just present those things to an audience, because if that’s all they’ve got, they would be quite justified in not being very interested in him. But when you see the violence that inhabits his brain and then you see the safe haven that he’s created for himself—the moment of lightness when he goes back to his home with the dogs that he’s rescued—that for me was enough both to pity him and to care about him.”
This is the first leading role in a TV series for the English actor, who has previously appeared on the small screen in “The Big C,” “Elizabeth I,” “Madame Bovary” and “David Copperfield,” but with wife Claire Danes so successful in Showtime’s “Homeland,” and being a new father, Dancy probably felt the time was right to take on a new challenge.
His movie roles include “Black Hawk Down,” “The Jane Austen Book Club,” “Ella Enchanted,” “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” “Our Idiot Brother,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “Hysteria” and “Evening,” which is where he and Danes met.
As for the weekly grind of acting in series that deals with such a dark subject matter, Dancy says, “I don’t have a hard time with it. I think it comes down to two things. [One is] the quality of the writing—I think what would get me down would be if I felt that we were settled into a routine: ‘Okay, here we go again this week. We’re going to solve this case. And, oh and by the way, it’s hideously violent.’ I think I’d have trouble with that. [The other is] the quality of the cast. I’m going to work every day with Laurence Fishburne and Mads Mikkelsen. All the way down, the cast really gives me so much pleasure that that tends to be the feeling I come away with at the end of the day.”