You've spoken a lot about taking your lead from the fans – if they're happy with this as an ending, you are too, and if not then you'll keep pushing for more. How do you feel having seen the reaction to the finale?
It's interesting, because a lot of people were very content. The feedback has been that they're satisfied, and if it came back around in another form they would watch, but they feel like the story had an ending for them. As always, I'll wait and see how the fates decide if Martha's able to raise money for a film – I'm waiting for instructions from above.
The way [the series] ended, I'm hoping that we're in a place where it could lie fallow for a year or two, and then we could return to the story in some unexpected way if there was appetite for it. Right now, it seems that everyone is willing to let it lie for the time being.
Has anything about the reaction to the finale surprised you?
I was surprised that everybody, or at least a faction of the audience, assumed that Bedelia chopped off her own leg and was cooking it! [laughs] For me, that was: Hannibal survived. The whole point of that tag is to suggest that Hannibal has lived, and there's three place settings at the dinner table, so interpret that how you will.
Are there any more clues in the episode as to how Hannibal and Will could have survived that fall? Anything around the house, the cliffs?
Well, the house being so relatively well-preserved, and well dusted, suggested that perhaps Chiyoh had been living there since we last saw her in episode seven. I did debate whether to involve her in the finale, but it felt like it needed to be between these three men.
You've mentioned some footage where Mads and Hugh went a little further with their final embrace than what we saw in the episode - "lips lingering over lips"?
Yeah, it was funny because I saw them just after they filmed it, and they both came running up to me kind of excited about what they had done. And Mads in particular was really enthusiastic about the level of intimacy that was conveyed on screen!
Do you have any plans to make that footage available?
Yeah, I should talk to the post people and pull some of those shots together - maybe that is something I should talk to the DVD producers about including as an extra.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that would go down well…
So to speak!
At what point did you decide to take Will and Hannibal's romance from subtext into text? Was that always the plan from season one?
No, it naturally evolved because I guess I was absorbing so much of Mads and Hugh's performance, which felt like it was growing in intimacy, and it would have been inauthentic not to address it. Because all of these characters, and particularly Bedelia, was able to call out what she had witnessed [between Hannibal and Will], it seemed like a natural conclusion.
I remember when I turned in the rewrite pages where Will asks Bedelia if Hannibal is in love with him, I got a note from Don Mancini, one of our writers who was always pushing for more homosexual text – not just context or subtext but text, text, text – and he was like, "I'm so glad you put that in there! They said it! They said it!"
I was a little surprised by how excited he was because it just felt organic to me, so I guess I had been fooling myself about how obvious that element of the story was. Maybe I had been reacting to the feedback in the Twitterverse, where there was a lot of Hannigram wish fulfilment. I hoped that it wouldn't be interpreted as pandering to the hardcore Hannigram fanbase, and that it was felt to be an authentic, logical extension of everything we'd been doing thus far.
It definitely was. Another element of that was how you began to amalgamate Will into Clarice Starling's role from the canon, with a lot of the dialogue and visuals…
Absolutely. I still would like to tell the story of Clarice Starling in this universe, and so I didn't want to rob Clarice to pay Will, but I also felt that there was a lot of things that could be done with Clarice to distinguish herself from Will, in that romantic regard. Clarice never, until the end of Hannibal, submitted to that romance, whereas Will seemed to be on a slippery slope right from the beginning, so there's a contrast to be drawn between them.