‘Clarice’: The ‘Silence of the Lambs’ Sequel Will Be Different from ‘Hannibal’ In 1 Major Way

The Silence of the Lambs was an R-rated movie. There was really no other way to tell a story about cannibals and serial killers. Amazingly, they managed to make a Hannibal TV series on NBC for three seasons that was even more graphic. Now, CBS is doing a Silence of the Lambs sequel called Clarice, but they’re not following in the footsteps of Hannibal.

Silence of the Lambs sequel Clarice starring Rebecca Breeds
Rebecca Breeds | Brooke Palmer/CBS

Alex Kurtzman, who co-created Clarice with Jenny Lumet, was on a Television Critics Association Zoom panel. Kurtzman explained how Clarice would be different from Hannibal. Clarice airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on CBS.

‘Clarice’ is a ‘Silence of the Lambs’ sequel, not a ‘Red Dragon’ remake

Hannibal used Red Dragon as its launch point and focused on the relationship between Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). They didn’t even get to Dollarhyde (Richard Armitage) until season 3. Clarice is about Clarice Starling (Rebecca Breeds)’ next mission one year after the events of Silence of the Lambs.

Clarice Starling (Rebecca Breeds) looking at clues
Rebecca Breeds | Brooke Palmer/CBS

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“We’re not doing what the show Hannibal did in that it made a literal meal of the murders themselves,” Kurtzman said. “Our goal is to, when we do pick individual cases, always organize our story break around what is going on for the characters. And then, how can the case itself somehow illuminate some inner struggle that they are not confronting?”

Clarice Starling is on the case 

Starling gets assigned to a new task force on serial killers. She will investigate in the field again. However, Clarice is not trying to top Buffalo Bill.

“So we don’t really break story, or grisly murders, to the point of view of ‘What’s the grisliest murder we can put on camera?’” Kurtzman said. “We break story from the point of view of asking, ‘What are they not looking at? What are they afraid to look at? What are they scared to look at, and how does this case open a door for them that they may not necessarily want to walk through?”

This show will have its own look, too

Hannibal made the killings artistic. Clarice is a little more straightforward than that. Kurtzman credited director Maja Vrvilo with establishing her own style in the show’s pilot. 

“Our goal was to define our own unique style,” Kurtzman said. “I think there’s something inherent in the Thomas Harris world that invites viewers and creators to explore how to turn this incredibly detailed, nuanced world into a visual feast. Our goal is always to keep things grounded, emotionally grounded.””

Clarice Starling (Rebecca Breeds) on the scene of a crime
Rebecca Breeds | Brooke Palmer/CBS

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Kurtzman added that he encouraged directors to break conventional television filming format with a wide, medium and closeup shot.

It’s challenging directors to say, ‘How do you shoot these scenes, hopefully, in a way where you’re not repeating shots really more than once or twice? How do you shoot these scenes from the inside out, not the outside in? Don’t just cover the scene by hosing it down with coverage. Whose point of view are you shooting the scene from?Whose emotional story are you telling?’ Maja definitely set the tone and the precedent, I think, by tying the camera to Clarice.

Alex Kurtzman, Television Critics Association panel, 1/27/21