“I went out to appear on Broadway in Journey’s End for five months. To do something very English, very British. Then my personal life changed and I ended up staying there. I made a movie and met my wife.” Hugh Dancy, the Oxford-educated actor son of a moral philosopher and an academic publisher, is telling me how he ended up in America, married to Homeland star Claire Danes and now father to their four-month-old son Cyrus.
The 37-year-old, who is set to star over here in glossy and gory TV drama Hannibal, grew up a long way from his current home in Greenwich Village. He was born in Stoke-on-Trent, brought up in Newcastle-under-Lyme, and went to boarding school from the age of 10, first at Dragon School in Oxford then at Winchester College, where he first got into acting. Another public schoolboy hogging the top roles, then? “I’m not embarrassed about it,” he says of Winchester. “I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing had I not gone there, both for positive and negative reasons. I was not having a good time at school otherwise, for lots of reasons. Partially because I was 13.”
He concedes, though, that “the other side of that coin was there was a theatre for me to stumble into, amazingly well stocked with people and enthusiasm and money, I guess. Those things served me well. I come from a family of teachers, primarily in public schools, so there is a sense of identity floating through my family.” Boarding school is good preparation for an actor’s life: “It makes it easier to live out of a bag. I never felt the need for a home in the same way [as others].”
He met Danes on the set of the 2007 film Evening. The conversation about where they would live “never came up. Claire grew up in New York and has lived there pretty much all her life, other than when she was a teenager working in LA [on My So Called Life, with which she first made her name]. So she was the one who had roots. Unlike me, in the sense that I hadn’t lived in London all my life. The hope would be that we can spend time here as well.” They recently brought Cyrus to the UK for the first time: “The priority was to see his great grandparents in Cornwall and Marlborough. I’ve hauled them all over. But they’re not the worst places in the world to be dragged to.” They are very private, and married in secret in France in 2009. But my female friends and colleagues are infatuated with the character of Carrie Mathison in Homeland, flawed but brilliant and cleverer than all the men around her. Perhaps they identify with her. And they are desperate to know what Danes is really like.
So, I say to Dancy, how are marriage and fatherhood treating you? “Ah, ha ha. It’s great,” he hedges. “They’re both treating me very well.” How does the family unit function, with you working on Hannibal and Claire embroiled again in Homeland? “If Hannibal comes around again, our schedules would overlap by a couple of months, which would mean either I could be with her or she with me, or neither of us would be working, and there’d be a period where we’d have to commute. It’s a complicated balance, like any marriage. We have got to be happy as a unit and I also want both of us to be happy independently and fulfilled in what we do, so there has to be some elbow room.
“You have to have, not rules, but things to aspire to, like not being apart too long, basic stuff. Don’t take a job in Australia without telling me!” He laughs. “Hah, that came out sounding a little personal. Neither of us has done that yet.” Tell me something about the plot of the new series of Homeland, I say. “Oh. Ha ha. Funny. No.”
They vet each other’s projects, though “not religiously. But if I want a second opinion, why should I look further? She is a magnificent actress. It is not always the same as it would be for me but it is completely committed.
“She tries to be very honest, without artifice, in what she does. And it is hard to do that and be interesting and create something big. I know from experience, and watching her now on set, that she is fantastic to work with, generous without trying to be generous.” Would you work together again? “Well, we obviously had a good time the first time around,” he says drily. “Why not revisit that if — I can hear the clichés coming out of my mouth — we could find the right material?” For Dancy the right material was Hannibal, which reimagines Thomas Harris’s cannibal antihero Hannibal Lecter and his eventual nemesis, investigator Will Graham, at the start of their relationship, tracking down murderers together for the FBI. Dancy’s sensitive, neurasthenic Will is worried that his ability to empathise with evil might make him a killer. Mads Mikkelsen’s arch Lecter tries subtly to encourage the idea.
“I have stuck my hand in someone’s chest cavity,” says Dancy, talking of his preparation for the part. “At some point I may have had my thumbs in an eye socket.” He says that “in no sense” was he seeking a leading TV role, having played a supporting part in Laura Linney’s comedy-drama The Big C last year, as well as appearing on Broadway, playing sexy power games with Nina Arianda in Venus In Fur. But he concedes TV is where a large slice of the action is. “In America, there’s an interesting, really ambitious group of young people making independent movies for zilch money,” says Dancy. “But studio-wise, you have to be wearing a cape. No one is making decently budgeted, not-crazy-money movies, so that middle ground has been occupied by television.” Not that he’d mind playing a superhero, he adds.
I sense Dancy isn’t that fussed about future projects at the moment. When I ask what he does when he’s not working, he gets visibly enthused: “I change nappies!” Sometimes, he recently told an American magazine, not fast enough. “Oh yeah, that can happen. That is an absolute part of the deal — don’t imagine you are going to catch every explosion. It’s a new world and a wonderful one. It’s finding ways to also live our life as a family and not be completely overwhelmed by keeping this tiny creature alive, and cooking a normal dinner. Simple stuff.”
So, yes. On screen Hugh Dancy and Claire Danes catch serial killers and terrorists. But off screen, this is what they are really like.
Hannibal begins at 10pm on Sky Living on May 7.
One of the strongest US drama imports to hit these shores in a long while, Hannibal makes its UK debut courtesy of Sky Living early next week.
This televisual take on Thomas Harris’s cannibal killer Dr Hannibal Lecter is from Pushing Daises creator Bryan Fuller and stars Casino Royale’s Mads Mikkelsen as the title character.
Digital Spy spoke to Hugh Dancy – who plays Lecter’s friend, confidante and future nemesis Will Graham – about what to expect from the new horror series, the spectre of Anthony Hopkins and the path to Red Dragon…
How did you feel when you were first approached for Hannibal? Were you aware of the Lecter movies?
“I had actually seen Red Dragon – the Ed Norton version – but quite a long time ago, and because they were filmed out of order, I think I had lost a sense of where everything fell. I’ve not seen Manhunter.
“Before I read anything or had seen anything, I wondered… why revisit the characters and the world, and why do it as a TV show? I wanted to know, were the motives good?
“I read the first script and it seemed to be ambitious and interesting – it was well-written, with good dialog, and raised lots of interesting possibilities… but that was as much as I had.
“I met with Bryan Fuller, I said pretty much exactly what I said to you to him, and he laid out the first five seasons of the show as he was carrying them around in his head. That basically answered all my questions!
“He not only made it clear that there would be a lot for me to do, but made it clear as to why one might want to do [this show] on a broader level. People love the books and the movies – and so does Bryan, incidentally – but he explained why we were going back to them and why we were doing it in a long-form way.”
What do you think Bryan brings to Hannibal as showrunner?
“Well, he’s a f**king great writer! He can have these hallucinogenic insights into character and he can write a type of heightened dialog which very few people can get away with, because as an actor, there’s just enough underpinning there for you to ground it. It’s really fun, meaty stuff – that’s the first thing.
“Secondly, for such an open, genuine and very sweet man, he has such a dark mind. But he doesn’t do it to try to be dark. I never got a script and thought, ‘Oh I see, this is the part where they’re trying to be gross’, – he’s coming at it from a genuinely interested, character perspective.”
Your character Will Graham is an unusual protagonist – you get the feeling that he could flip to the dark side at any time…
“Yeah, and that was a big part of the appeal. That wasn’t particularly how Bryan sold it to me, although I understood the trajectory of the first season, which definitely raises that question. That’s the fulcrum, if you like, in Will’s mind that Hannibal is leaning on.
“But yeah, as a protagonist, he has this capacity for empathy, which we normally think of as such a kind thing – but for whatever reason, in him, it’s particularly directed towards violent criminals. That was an interesting place to start.”
Mads Mikkelsen is such an interesting screen presence – what is he like to work with?
“Wonderful. I worked with Mads before, about nine years ago on [2004 film] King Arthur. It was pretty broad – every so often we’d kill an ancient Briton and then we’d carry on chatting and hanging out! We had six months to get to know each other and became friendly, but it was a very different type of job.
“What can I say about Mads? He’s detail oriented. Once he’s got his teeth into something… that sounds like a bad pun! But once he gets his teeth into something, he won’t let go.
“He has amazing technique, but primarily he will interrogate something until it makes sense to him and nobody’s going to question it as much as he will. I think when you’re taking on a character that’s already iconic, that people already think they know, that’s absolutely the best type of actor to come at it.”
Hannibal has attracted an amazing cast – Laurence Fishburne, Gillian Anderson, Eddie Izzard…
“I don’t know if you’re Jewish or not, but there’s a bit in the Passover ceremony where they say, ‘It would’ve been sufficient’ – it felt a bit like that!
“It was like getting a ticket to watch Oprah tape one of her shows… and then getting a free car! It really is an astonishing cast. I’ve admired Laurence for years – his first work was Apocalypse Now… which is ridiculous!
“And if one has a mental list of people you’d like to work with, Mads is right at the top of it, so for me it was wonderful.”
There’s been a lot of talk about how Hannibal and shows like The Following are pushing the boundaries for violence on network television – what are your thoughts on that?
“Well, I haven’t actually seen The Following, I’m ashamed to say. I think that what’s new is the positioning of violence, what’s new really is the genre – horror – rather than the violence.
“I can only really speak about our show and I never question the fact that the violence on Hannibal serves as a vital insight into Will’s mind, and ultimately into Hannibal’s mind.
“But particularly Will, because he’s somebody who lives with it – that’s what he has to carry around every day. Without that, he’s just… grumpy! So you need to understand what his burden is. I’ve got no problem with violence in entertainment as long as it has purpose and consequences.”
A show like Hannibal could easily become procedural, killer-of-the-week stuff, but there’s an ongoing arc here…
“Oh, I think it’s all about the ongoing arc. When you’re tuning into something week after week, with a week in-between, you do need a little something to get you through. You need a weekly pay-off.
“But for me the engine driving the show is the developing relationship and the situation between Will and Hannibal, and the tipping balance in Will’s mind. That’s what’s going to pull us through, that’s what’s going to hook people.”
Since people know on some level what’s going to happen to Will and Hannibal, does the show have the feel of a tragedy?
“Well, do people know what’s going to happen? I don’t know. To some extent, that’s true, but we’ve got a long way to go before we reach Red Dragon – it’s not like we finish this first season and, bang, it’s Red Dragon…”
I think Bryan Fuller has said that Red Dragon would be your fourth season…
“Exactly, so before we get there, Will is going through the wringer. If you go into it thinking you know where we’re heading, you’re in for a surprise!”
Hannibal begins on Tuesday, May 7 at 10pm on Sky Living
Click below to read. Warning: Possible spoilers.
NBC is giving Hannibal fans a chance to feast on the show’s fourth episode, which was pulled from the schedule ahead of this week’s airing in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.
The network is incorporating footage from the lost hour into a series of ”cannibalized” webisodes that will serve as a narrative bridge between Episode 3 and this Thursday’s Episode 5 (NBC, 10/9c) — and TVLine has an exclusive first look at the debut installment (featuring an introduction from exec producer Bryan Fuller).
As Fuller explains, Ep 4 “details the relationship between Hannibal Lecter and Abigail Hobbs, played by Kacey Rohl,” explains Fuller. “As the series goes on, this relationship gets much more complicated and becomes a load-bearing element of our storytelling. So we wanted to make sure that you have all the scenes to follow the story along.”
In the first part below — more clips will debut on NBC.com — Dr. Lecter has a therapy session with Will Graham, and then secretly inspects the profiler’s home before getting a taste of blood.
We’re only three episodes into the addictive first season of “Hannibal,” but it’s already become clear that being able to empathize with the twisted thought process of a serial killer isn’t a particularly enviable talent, and being out in the field is definitely not easy for FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy).
In this week’s episode, “Coquilles,” Will and the rest of the Behavioral Science Unit are on the trail of a particularly sadistic killer whose bloody ritual includes cutting the victims’ back flesh and stretching it to look like angel wings. In The Huffington Post’s exclusive clip above, it becomes apparent just how much of a toll each case is taking on Will, much to the concern of his supervisor, Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne).
Elsewhere in the hour, Hannibal (Mads Miikkelsen) tries to drive a wedge between Will and Jack, while Jack’s wife Bella (Gina Torres) pulls away from him and begins seeing Hannibal as her therapist.
“Hannibal” airs on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.
Click the link below to view, warning possible spoilers.
NBC has pulled next Thursday’s grislier-than-usual episode of Hannibal in the wake of this week’s Boston Marathon bombings, Variety reports.
The decision came after exec producer Bryan Fuller phoned the network to express his concern about the content of the episode, this season’s fourth, which involves children-on-children murder.
NBC will instead jump ahead to Episode 5. Viewers shouldn’t expect any continuity issues, per Variety.
As a result of the move, Hannibal‘s season finale will now air one week earlier on June 20
Source: TV Line
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s NBC’s newest drama, “Hannibal”—Thursday nights at 10 p.m.
Hugh Dancy stars as FBI Special Investigator Will Graham ,who is haunted by his ability to empathize with serial killers.
He is drawn into the investigation of a series of missing college girls by Agent Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), who has a special interest in Graham’s ability.
As Graham struggles to create a profile, Crawford enlists the help of noted psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), who takes an interest in the case and particularly in Graham, in whom he senses a like-mind.
This morning on Larry’s Look, Hugh Dancy was our special guest. He talked about the series and how much he enjoyed working with Fishburne.
Larry actually surprised Dancy with a question about the British actor’s “connection” to Charlotte!
For more about “Hannibal”, go to: www.nbc.com/hannibal.
This episodes was due to air on 2nd May. It has been switched to air earlier.
UPDATE-NBC PRIMETIME SCHEDULE – Thursday April 25, 2013 – Thursday April 25, 2013
04/25/2013 (10:01PM – 11:00PM) (Thursday) : Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and the BAU team track a serial killer whose bloody ritual includes cutting the victims’ back flesh and stretching it to look like angel wings. Returning to the field weighs heavily on Will’s psyche and Hannibal (Mads Miikkelsen) tries to drive a wedge between Will and Jack (Laurence Fishburne). Meanwhile, Jack Crawford’s wife Bella (Gina Torres) pulls away from him and begins seeing Hannibal as her therapist, in an effort to come to terms with the fact she is dying. Beverly (Hettienne Park) tries to connect with Will on a more personal level.
Also starring Caroline Dhavernas, Aaron Abrams, Scott Thompson.
What’s the first information you consume in the morning?
I like The Guardian online because I feel like I’m getting a sense of what’s going on back home. I’m trying to get out of the habit of waking up and immediately turning on my phone and opening up The Guardian, but I have that slightly morbid desire to know if anything awful has happened in the world while I’m asleep.
What occupies your mind in the car or on the subway?
I’m kind of a news junkie, so on the subway, I find myself waiting until I get to a station that has 3G and then refreshing The Guardian to see if any news item has come up.
How do you listen to music?
Usually just iTunes. Listen, I’m a child of the ’70s and grew up in the ‘80s, and at this point, I think it’s just a little set in stone.
Anything good you’ve been listening to lately?
Plenty. Sbtrkt—that’s been rattling around in my head for a while now.