Before Clarice, young Hannibal starts Rising

by Beacon Staff • February 7, 2007

In the latest installment in the Hannibal Lecter series, Hannibal Rising, the eponymous role will be played by French newcomer Gaspard Ulliel in what he comprehensibly described to The Beacon in a phone interview as "not an easy role," an understatement when considering the award-winning paradigm Hopkins forged in The Silence of the Lambs and expanded upon in Hannibal and Red Dragon.,After 15 years, three films and an Academy Award, the time has finally come for Sir Anthony Hopkins to cease masticating human flesh-at least on screen.

In the latest installment in the Hannibal Lecter series, Hannibal Rising, the eponymous role will be played by French newcomer Gaspard Ulliel in what he comprehensibly described to The Beacon in a phone interview as "not an easy role," an understatement when considering the award-winning paradigm Hopkins forged in The Silence of the Lambs and expanded upon in Hannibal and Red Dragon.

"It's a bit scary of course," said Ulliel. "I knew there would be a lot of people looking for similarities."

Hannibal Rising, adapted from the Thomas Harris novel of the same name (Harris also penned the screenplay for the first time in the Hannibal series), chronicles Lecter's early childhood in Lithuania through his adolescence in France up to his arrival in the United States.

The film documents the origins of Hannibal's sadistic bloodlust as well as his transformation from an emotionally tormented child into the brilliant and infamous serial killer.

But don't walk into the theatre expecting the same psychological thrill ride that the previous three films delivered and capitalized on.

"This film is different from the other Hannibal films," Ulliel said. "It is set in a different country in a different period of time. The character is much younger and has a different human aspect. It is less of a psychological thriller. You still have the psychological aspect that is still omnipresent, but you have much more gore and scary scenes. More action scenes than the previous films."

As Hannibal Lecter, Ulliel faces the daunting task of filling a pair of the most iconic shoes in cinema history-a task that he feels limited him creatively.

"I needed to go inside the mind of the character and express a lot of different feelings," he said. "But at the same time, I was not completely free to create my own character because I had to link this young character to the older character that everyone knows. I did not have this complete freedom."

The pressures of working on a big-name film also played a large part in shaping his performance.

"It's a big production with a high pace of work," Ulliel said. "So sometimes you don't have all the time that you need to precisely do a scene so you have to rush."

Whether or not director Peter Webber's (The Girl With the Pearl Earring, The Zebra Man) new approach toward the series will expound upon what is already a critically lauded franchise remains to be seen.

Literally.

Hannibal Rising has not been screened for critics, a traditional indication that the film probably isn't all that good.

However, that has not raised Ulliel's apprehensions.

"I don't know if it's the same in America, but in France, the critics are not as important for the scores," he said. "Obviously, you know you are going to have bad critics, so that's just the way it is."