NBC Universal Media
Pass the fava beans and pour yourself a nice chianti, because our favorite cannibal is back when Hannibal returns for its second season on NBC. The show has been a surprising cult hit, with “fannibals” popping up on social networks like Tumblr and Twitter.
One of the ingredients to the success of this strange, macabre tale is the beautifully realized and atmospheric world of the show. Much of that world, from death tableaux to interior design, is created by production designer Matthew Davies.
Hollywood.com was lucky enough to talk to Davies about creating the world of the show and even got him to dish (pun intended) on his favorite death tableau:
How does production design help in creating the creepy world of the show?Every genre has its own aesthetic vocabulary, and Hannibal's world is especially rarified. The colour palette is tightly controlled, the death tableaux are carefully designed to invoke a kind of macabre beauty, and all our sets are designed from the ground up to meet the needs of character, camera, and narrative.
Can you talk about what went into making Hannibal's favorite rooms: the kitchen and the dining room?There is a lot of theater in Hannibal's world; the dining room has a baroque palette of deep cobalt blues, chocolate grays, and emerald greens. The language is laden with hedonistic excess, in addition to the vertically-stacked herb garden that grows from a massive 19th century etched mural, we have a gilt-framed painting of Leda and the Swan over the fireplace and themed floral displays that change and rotate throughout the episodes. If you look closely, you'll see that these displays include taxidermy animals, feathers, animal bones, insects, and other exotica.
The Kitchen is a professional chef's kitchen, all stainless appliances are working and the overall feel for performance is consistent with Hannibal's status as a master chef.
Additionally, Hannibal is intimately connected with a new environment: his bedroom. The walls are entirely upholstered with wool/cashmere suit fabric and the floors are antiqued, cerused oak. Either side the bed are old Japanese prints (Hannibal's aunt was Japanese) and the room is filled with other ephemera that true fans might recognize from Hannibal's literary past in Thomas Harris' novels.
There are a lot of over-the-top death tableaux on the show. What goes into creating those?With each new script, we meet with our showrunner Bryan Fuller to discuss how each tableau should look. Concept illustrators create finely detailed renditions for approval and then our Head of Prosthetics Francois Dagenais begins work, supported by Construction, Props, SFX, and Set Dec. Each tableau takes a couple of weeks to produce, and we will often re-shoot elements on special "insert days."
What was your biggest challenge so far on Hannibal?Time is our biggest worry on Hannibal: every episode shoots in just eight days. Imagine trying to shoot a feature film in eight days, coupled with immense set builds, SFX rigs, and planned VFX sequences.
On occasion, we've had as little as 48 hours to design, build, dress, light and shoot elaborate sets in studio. Conflicting actor availabilities, weather and all sorts of other obstacles often force us into around-the-clock schedules. At any time of the day or night, someone, somewhere is busting their gut to be ready for camera.
What's been your favorite moment working on the show?I really enjoyed the first season's episode in which we touched on human musical instruments - the prosthetics were macabre in the extreme and we researched and re-created an entire world of fabricating gut strings from raw material. The same episode also had a great fight sequence - I liked the spectacle of Hannibal's office becoming a fighting pit for the scene.
How do you use production design to visually tell the audience something about the characters?Think about it like this - in any single frame of the show, everything that is not the actors, is the design. It is quite literally everything that we know about the story and characters, other than what we perceive through performance.
It's the flesh on the bones; it's what makes the entire world of Hannibal feel plausible and yet so creepily peculiar. Bryan Fuller really believes that audiences demand good design in the shows they watch. I hope he's right!
Hannibal can be a pretty creepy show. What has been the creepiest assignment you've gotten on the show?We have scouted so many dark and disturbing locations, researched enough macabre story-lines for a lifetime's worth of nightmares, as well as pushed the envelope of television horror. We've had tapestries and totem poles of dismembered bodies, monsters and cannibals, killer pigs and dinosaurs. However, the creepiest place by far is inside Bryan's Fuller head. We're all his prisoners!
Hannibal returns to NBC on February 28 at 10 PM.
The Farm: Just as former CollegeHumor hottie Ellie Kemper scored a gig on The Office, so too will Thomas Middleditch go from the web to The Farm, the Dwight-centric spin-off pilot launching later this season on NBC. Middleditch, a CH alum, will play Dwight's brother Jeb, a marijuana farmer and occasional entrepreneur. [EW]
Psych: Dule Hill's perennial grump Gus will face a tough decision next season when Garcelle Beauvais pops up for an episode on USA's mental-minded comedy. She'll play a radio station owner who challenges Gus's girlfriend (played by ER's Parminder Nagra) by overtly flirting with the pseudo-detective as he investigates the murder of a radio DJ. The episode is set to air in the middle of the show's seventh season. [TVLine]
TV Land: As original programming amps up on the rising network, TV Land has tapped Missi Pyle, Elliott Gould and The Killing's Kristin Lehman for lead roles on two new pilot. Pyle and Gould will headline I'm Not Dead Yet, playing the wife and father (respectively) to a man (Bridesmaids' Ben Falcone) whose heart condition causes him to live life to the fullest before he croaks. Lehman will lead Motive, a drama about a single mother-slash-homicide detective. [Deadline]
Hannibal: NBC has added Hettienne Park (Young Adult, Broadway's Seminar) for a role as Beverly, a member of the investigative team led by Laurence Fishburne's character, on the upcoming serial killer drama. [THR]
AMC: Parks & Rec Season 1 alum Paul Schneider has been cast as one of the leads in AMC's as-yet-untitled pilot by Richard LaGravenese and Tony Goldwyn (Scandal). The drama is a legal thriller about a sensationalistic murder case that is reopened when new evidence comes to light years later. [THR]
Follow Hollywood.com on Twitter @Hollywood_com
[Photo Credit: AP Images]
TV Tidbits: A '30 Rock' Return, A 'Big Bang Theory' Promotion
TV Tidbits: Justin Bieber Visits Springfield, Chloe Sevigny to 'Portlandia'
TV Tidbits: 'Game of Thrones' Adds Two, 'ER' Vet Joins 'Red Widow'
Director Jason Reitman made a very smart decision when approaching his new film Young Adult. His past two successes Juno and Up in the Air were stylized dramedies one with colorful dialogue and production design flourishes the other with precision camera work his director's hand evident at every turn. In his latest he pulls way back letting his lead character—a vile destructive former high school prom queen named Mavis (Charlize Theron)—do the talking. And talk she does—every word a stinging insult disillusioned wish holier-than-thou gripe or embarrassing truth. Reitman unleashes an unfiltered Theron and the results are gut-wrenching hilarious and powerful.
While working on her latest Sweet Valley High-esque book Mavis receives a mass e-mail from her high school boyfriend Buddy (Patrick Wilson) announcing that he and his wife are expecting their first child. This sets a fire under Mavis' ass and after chugging a 2-Liter of Diet Coke and throwing on a Hello Kitty tee she hits the road to take back the man that's rightfully hers. Mavis shacks up in a drab hotel located in the heart of her small Minnesota hometown and immediately proceeds to the bar to indulge in her favorite pastime: pounding back whiskey. There she runs in to one of her forgettable high school classmates Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt) who she only recalls after being reminded of a horrendous gay bashing that left both his legs crippled ("And I'm not even gay."). The two form an unlikely friendship—Matt being enamored by Mavis' pathetic quest Mavis needing an ear to talk off.
Young Adult's simple premise allows writer Diablo Cody (Juno The United States of Tara) to move Mavis from depressing suburban local to depressing suburban local with ease creating a playground of homogenized perfection for Theron's foul behavior. Whether she open-mouth chewing on fried chicken at the local KFC/Taco Bell covering up last night's hangover with a fresh facial or seducing Buddy at the Applebee's-esque restaurant Mavis never falters always looking down at her surroundings finding excuses for why she's not the source of her own problems.
Theron's performance is fearless one of the few crass female performances shaded with human complexity and empathy. Young Adult is a very funny film that works because of its star's ability to teeter the edge of comical and truly unlikable. Oswalt and Wilson amplify the main performance embodying their own grounded characters to properly riff with the vulgar Mavis. Matt is a very Patton-y character to begin with but between is jokey back-and-forths with Mavis is an inherent sadness one Oswalt surfaces with a contrasting subtly. Unlike Mavis Matt has the ability to rise above is own plight and change. His new friend is tragically a lost cause. At times the film's story feels too narrow never allowing us to really explore Mavis' other relationships but it's hard to naysay for wanting more.
Few movies attempt to mine comedy out of the bleakness of everyday life; even fewer do so while twisting storytelling conventions. You watch Young Adult with hopes for Mavis but Reitman and Cody aren't ready to indulge you. In Theron they've found one of the few actresses in town who can simultaneously look like a conventionally gorgeous blonde bombshell and complete make-up-caked crap a woman with the balls to take a character who relishes in schadenfreude. They don't squander that talent. From the first to the umpteenth Teenage Fanclub sound cue Mavis is delusional caught up in her own fantasy and willing to execute it at any cost. It's a truly cringe-worthy mission but it works because sadly we all know someone like that.
Liv (Kate Hudson) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) are lifelong best friends obsessed with getting married -- and more importantly having the perfect wedding at New York’s Plaza Hotel. Except there’s a glitch: Their June weddings get scheduled for the same Saturday and no other date is available for three years! When neither agrees to move to a different venue the battle is on. And the pranks: There’s Emma’s disastrous trip to a tanning salon where her skin becomes solid orange and Liv’s appointment at a beauty salon where her blonde locks are turned mysteriously blue.
Adding this to her recent list of dumb comedies like My Best Friend's Girl and Fool's Gold Hudson is in need of a serious career intervention. Her character here a supposedly smart lawyer who will sink to ANY depths to get married and have a dream wedding just doesn’t mesh. It’s SO 50 years ago that feminists watching these two engage in a knock-down drag-out fight over a hotel ballroom will recoil in horror. And after all that acclaim for Rachel Getting Married Hathaway should just find a place to hide – though to be fair in one or two scenes she does manage to find a shred of believability. Too bad it’s not nearly enough. Although it starts out with a bit of promise director Gary Winick clearly just sat back as the proceedings spun out of control with one ridiculous scene after another. Of course he isn’t given much help by Greg DePaul CaseyWilson and June Diane Raphael’s waaaaaaay over-the-top screenplay which reduces these two apparent friends into babbling morons. Those interested in witnessing two women demean themselves for 90 minutes should have a lot of fun.