“Fannibals” Feast on Star-Studded “Hannibal” Panel

Swarming with signs that read “Fannibal Forever,” Ballroom 20 in the San Diego Convention Center became a hot spot late Saturday afternoon as the San Diego Comic-Con panel for the recently canceled NBC show “Hannibal” got underway.

Executive producers Martha De Laurentiis and Bryan Fuller walked on stage to a room of screaming fans, and the cheers only grew louder as they were joined by actors Hugh Dancy and Richard Armitage.

These fans, or “fannibals,” quickly became the core of the celebrity discussion. Despite the show being cancelled after three seasons, Fuller voiced, many times, how grateful he was to have such a strong fan base.

“It’s wonderful to see a show with low ratings have such a huge amount of support from fans,” he said, wearing a scarf one of the fans had woven for him.

Based on the characters from Thomas Harris’ famous novels "The Red Dragon" and "The Silence of the Lambs," Hannibal works as a loose prequel and reimagines the iconic relationship between Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham.

Danson plays Will Graham, the troubled FBI criminal profiler, who, while hunting down serial killers, seeks the psychiatric help of Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). Lector is actually one of the killers he is searching for.

Armitage plays Francis Dolarhyde, a serial killer known as The Tooth Fairy, due to his tendency of biting the skin off his victims. Dolarhyde’s plotline is still unfolding within the ongoing third season.

Stunning cinematography, an intense score, poignant dialogue and deeply complex characters are all hallmarks of this twisted psychological thriller.

After fans finished screaming over the sight of Armitage’s naked torso during an exclusive preview of the remaining episodes, the floor opened up to audience questions that displayed the rich relationship they have with the show.

Dressed as the black stag, a reoccurring motif within the show that represents Will’s slow realization of Lecter’s murderous capacities, “fannibal” Christine Andelfinger discussed the darkly alluring nature of the show with NBC 7.

“It’s an extremely emotional show,” Andelfinger said, “it’s visually moving and the dialogue is so complex. People really connect to the emotional stories of the characters.”

Dierdre Murphy echoed this sentiment, saying that no other show has ever impacted her so much.

She attributed the highly active fan base to the nuanced performances of the lead actors and the artistic beauty of each episode.

When asked about the gruesome violence depicted in the show, Andelfinger’s sister Nicole defended the show’s bloody plotline.

“Even though the violence is so shocking, there’s a reason behind each death,” she said. “The violence is uncomfortable but you see the consequences the characters face, which is really interesting.”

Andelfinger, Murphy and Nicole all agreed the show has a real impact on Millennials, discussing how the rise of streaming services such as Amazon Prime and social media sites like Tumblr created such a strong “fannibal” community.

“I work two jobs and still can’t afford cable,” Nicole told NBC 7, “but I watched Hannibal online. I don’t think the low ratings represented the enormous amount of online support for the show. I hope they continue it somehow.”

Clearly thinking in this vein, Fuller hinted at the possibility of a feature film, and Dancy commented he is fully committed to reprising his role whenever possible.

Whatever the fate of Hannibal turns out to be the appetite of the fans has only increased, and the supportive relationship between the cast and the ”fannibals” will surely remain strong.

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