We Dreamed a Dream of Bowie On 'Hannibal'

Showrunner Bryan Fuller hasn't been shy about teasing the upcoming third season of his bloody brilliant show Hannibal . We know that it will involve Dr. Lecter on the run in Europe with psychiatrist Bedelia Du Maurier after Season 2's deadly climax. We know that it will incorporate elements from both Thomas Harris' prequel novel Hannibal Rising and the trilogy-ender Hannibal, while also possibly dipping into parts of Red Dragon. We know that we will be introduced to new characters from the source material like Lady Murasaki and Francis Dolarhyde. And now we know one more piece of exciting news: Fuller is aggressively pursuing musician-turned-actor David Bowie to play an important recurring role on the show.

Most people know Bowie as the glam rocker of Ziggy Stardust fame, but he's actually been acting for almost five decades, appearing in short films and TV shows as far back as the late '60s. His first major film role (and, to date, most memorable) was Jareth the Goblin King in 1986's Labyrinth. Since then, he's appeared in such notable movies as The Last Temptation Of Christ, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Zoolander, and The Prestige. Even so, if he signs on to recur on Hannibal, it will be the first regular television role of his career. (He appeared on Showtime's horror anthology The Hunger from 1999-2000, but as the host who introduced each episode, not as an actor. He also appeared on Ricky Gervais' Extras as a bizarro version of himself in 2006.)

So, which character from Harris' source material is Bowie being eyed for? As Fuller delves into Hannibal Rising for inspiration, he's looking to the rocker to play a figure from the cannibal's past: Robert Lecter, Hannibal's uncle. Robert is the younger brother to Count Lecter and the husband to the enigmatic Lady Murasaki, a very formative figure in young Hannibal's life. Uncle Robert doesn't have much of a presence in the source material: in the novel, he's killed during a confrontation with a butcher shortly after Hannibal comes to live with him and his wife; in the film, he dies before Hannibal even arrives at the estate. The fact that Fuller is pursuing someone as famous as Bowie to play Robert indicates that Hannibal's uncle will have a much larger role in this iteration of the story.

Bowie was first considered for the role in preparation for Season 2. When plans to introduce the character were postponed a year, talks with the actor were put on hold. But now that Fuller has decided to incorporate Robert in Season 3, Fuller once again approached Bowie for the character. Reportedly, Bowie is very interested in appearing on the show, and the decision will come down to a matter of scheduling and availability.

While we wait for official word on whether or not Bowie will be joining Hannibal, let's take some time to imagine how the glam rocker will fit into the stylized world of the show. Since Fuller is essentially revamping the character from the ground up, there's no telling what Robert will end up looking like.

1. Robert is a bloodthirsty monster.

Of all of Bowie's films, the one most similar in tone to Fuller's Hannibal (video evidence below) is certainly the 1983 gothic vampire thriller The Hunger. In it, Bowie played John Blaylock, the immortal lover of Catherine Deneuve's sadistic vamp, Miriam. Together, John and Miriam preyed on weak humans, inviting them into their lush townhouse, feeding on their blood, and then disposing of their bodies in an incinerator. Perhaps serial killing runs in the Lecter family, and Hannibal will have learned everything he knows from his murderous uncle.

2. Robert is a seductive manipulator.

Then again, maybe Robert's sadism won't be of the physical kind, but the mental. He could turn out to be a master manipulator who bends young, impressionable minds to his will and delights in challenging people with seemingly unsolvable puzzles (like Jareth in Larbyrinth). Hannibal's obsession with psychology could have stemmed from his foster father's own twisted psychopathy.

3. Robert is a level-headed man of science.

Or maybe Robert will surprise us all by not being sadistic at all. Bowie's role as Nicola Tesla in Christopher Nolan's The Prestige was perhaps the actor's most "normal" character — the actor was all-but-unrecognizable with a mustache and a stern expression in place of his typical glitter and flamboyance. It could be fun to see Bowie play against type again, with a Robert as straight-laced and taciturn as Hannibal is vicious and eloquent.

4. Robert is a haunted officer of the law.

It would be a neat twist if Hannibal's uncle turned out to be a lawman on the path of a killer who turns out to be his own nephew. Bowie played a haunted FBI agent in the Twin Peaks prologue/epilogue film Fire Walk With Me. We'd love to see a cat-and-mouse game between Bowie and Mads Mikkelsen, as uncle and nephew break bread together, with Robert oblivious to the fact that the monster he's hunting is his own flesh-and-blood.

5. Robert is an androgynous singer.

Or there's always the chance that Uncle Robert will be a character who brings levity to the brutal world of Hannibal with his gonzo personality and artsy rock music. Heck, it wouldn't even be the first time a character in a Bryan Fuller production broke out into song:

That's Kristin Chenoweth as Olive Snook on Fuller's Pushing Daisies . Despite the fact that the show itself wasn't even a musical, Olive (and Olive only) occasionally expressed her emotions through song. Perhaps the only way Uncle Robert will be able to express his dismay over his nephew's monstrous actions will be to sing about them.

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