TODAY   |  April 04, 2013

Hugh Dancy: ‘Hannibal’ is ‘creepy and chilling’

In the new NBC drama “Hannibal,” Hugh Dancy’s character tracks serial killers because he can think like them. The actor tells TODAY’s Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb that even though the show’s subject matter is chilling, the other actors have a great time on set.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> nbc's prequel to " silence of the lambs " which stars hugh dancy kicks off tonight and is getting amazing reviews.

>> hugh plays an fbi profiler who can think and feel like a serial killer . sometimes his boss finds it so disconcerting he calls in a psychiatrist, dr. hannibal lecder.

>> everything else in your mind. your decency, yet shocked at your associations.

>> whose profile are you working on? whose profile are you working on?

>> i'm sorry, will, upsetting is what we do. i can't shut my mind off any more than you can do.

>> please, don't psychoanalyze me. you won't like me when i'm psychoanalyzed, no, if you'll excuse me, i'm going to give a lecture on psycho analyzing.

>> i watched the first episode right before i came up here. maybe that's why i'm all -- it is, it's rough going there. because of the subject matter , obviously.

>> it's creepy, chilling subject matter .

>> in a delicious way.

>> it leaves hopefully a little taste in your mouth.

>> oh.

>> tell us about your character. you have sort of a sixth sense when it comes to solving crimes.

>> i think you put it very well. he can place himself in the minds and in the shoes, if you like, of people particularly people who commit violent crimes. he just has that part of his brain that can go there.

>> you have pure empathy.

>> exactly.

>> not a great gift to have.

>> it's not a gift you would like to receive, because he finds the way we show it in the show is that he, he literally in his mind reenacts his crimes with himself performing them and when he comes out of the state of imagination, he has to live with that.

>> yeah, you've seen it, you've done it --

>> what's the vibe like on the set given the creepy subject matter ? what's it like among the actors?

>> is it wrong to say we have a great time?

>> how do you deal with it?

>> anyone negroponte i've worked on, the darker, the tougher the subject matter , the more likely it is that the set has a lighter vibe to it, to balance it out.

>> how did you prepare for the role of this guy?

>> well i mean first of all obviously all the hannibal lecter stories come from the novels. i recommend to anybody that hasn't read them.

>> that has the stomach for them.

>> anybody who likes good writing, he has a fantastic character. will graham pops up in " red dragon " the first novel. so i went to that.

>> you know as i was watching this this morning, you probably didn't know at the time you started this project, we just had in the news here in new york a true story , the man was finally, he was found guilty. the cannibal cop. and i have to ask you, if you feel in some way, that by us highlighting these kinds of things, are we -- in any way contributing to the culture of violence?

>> the rise of cannibalism?

>> no, i don't mean it that way. are we glorifying in any way something that is the least deserving of it? i mean that with great respect.

>> i think it's a good question, actually. i think that speaking personally, which is all you can do, i wouldn't want to be involved in something that just, i don't know, used violence to sho shortcut the need to tell a story. think if you're going to present violence, which is part of our culture and to many, many stories, it's got to have context and consequences.

>> it's so well acted and so well directed.

>> that's whey liked about it in terms of the characters, that you see the impact it has on him and he carries this around with him. it's intrinsic to the story rather than let's have some violence.

>> and it's as much of a mind game as you're watching it, so people don't think it's all blood and guts all over the place.

>> it's about myself and hannibal , my psychiatrist. and we become friends. and then has this agenda for me. and as the season progresses, that's what you see.

>> we wish you good luck with this. you're going to need it.

>> yes you are, baby.

>> congratulations on your new baby.

>> thank you.

>> thanks for being with us. you can catch the " hannibal " premiere tonight.