“Hannibal” creator Bryan Fuller has had an enviable career trajectory. Happily coinciding with the past decade or so’s focus on “smart” TV, his star rose in the early 2000s as he left “Star Trek’s” sci-fi universe for quirky cult shows like “Wonderfalls,” “Dead Like Me” and “Pushing Daisies.” But his first mention in Variety was for something more gruesome — adapting the 2002 TV-movie version of “Carrie,” Stephen King’s classic horror tale of bullying and scorned teen angst.
Do you recall seeing your name in Variety?
It’s always surreal — particularly for me as someone who was so steeped in Stephen King as an adolescent — and then to be adapting his first novel and getting a mention in Variety. It’s hard to quantify the experience, because it’s ethereal in a way.
What do you recall from that point in your life?
The starting point for my career was slumming myself onto the Paramount lot trying to shove “Star Trek” story ideas under the doors of the writers of that show. My industry hymen, as it were, was broken then.
Do you remember who your contemporaries were at the time?
My last year on “Voyager,” I wrote a spec for the “Dead Like Me” pilot, and my world as a writer was very small. Between “Voyager” and “Deep Space Nine,” my peers were all Trekkers. When I was at “Star Trek,” I was told by all the EPs that you would never have a better experience than working on “Star Trek”; all other prospects will be a disappointment. Emerging from that umbrella and starting something new was magical.
Who were your heroes and mentors at that time?
At “Star Trek,” there were so many mentors on that show: from Joe Menosky, who was the philosopher, and Ron Moore, who was the soul of “Star Trek,” and Brannon Braga, who brought such a wonder and splendor to science fiction and storytelling. It was getting this highly balanced education on how to tell stories and not just for the “Star Trek” audience.
What was the best thing about that time in your life?
I was in the process of doing “Dead Like Me” and working on “Carrie” simultaneously. I thought, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to work on at least two projects at a time for the rest of my life.” That time taught me how to balance two worlds; to be very excited about what you’re doing, but also be cognizant of what’s in line.
What about the hardest thing about that time?
It was in the wake of Sept. 11. I remember “Dead Like Me” had to change a plane crash into a train wreck. There was an overall sensitivity and awareness that brought everyone together and made everyone cautious of the stories that they were telling at that time. With “Carrie,” post-Columbine, doing a show about a teenage vigilante who rises up above her oppressors in a vicious, deadly way had an impact. But I also remember those times fondly as a definite demarcation; pre-strike Hollywood and post-writers’ strike Hollywood are remarkably different.
If you could go back to that time, what would you do differently?
I would probably advise a younger me to be more cognizant of the business aspects of television production than I was at the time. I was very much an artist and a writer wanting to tell an emotional story. A little more business savvy would have done me good. It very much is a business. It’s easy to forget that when you’re in the tale that you’re telling.