WARNING: This article contains spoilers from the novel Red Dragon (1981) by Thomas Harris and from the movies Manhunter (1986) and Red Dragon (2002), which were based on the book.
As an avid fan of both the literary and cinematic versions of the Hannibal tetralogy, I was initially quite skeptical about one of my favorite series being adapted for television. I squirmed through the first half of the premiere, anxiously awaiting the introduction of Hannibal. Mads Mikkelsen did not disappoint. He gave an intoxicating performance, finding the perfect balance between raw dominance and sophisticated charm. From that moment on, I was able to relax and enjoy the rest of the show.
One character, although mentioned, did not appear in the pilot. Apart from the fact that Freddy Lounds would now be Freddie Lounds, a female version of the sleazy tabloid reporter, little was revealed about the character. Following in the footsteps of Stephen Lang and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Lara Jean Chorostecki brings more to the role than just a sex change. Until you realize who she is, Ms. Freddie Lounds can be very disarming. With her petite frame and big blue eyes, peering out from beneath a mountain of doll-like curls, you might easily mistake her for a damsel in distress. Don’t let this cheeky little minx fool you, though. She is just as ambitious and meddlesome as her male counterparts.
TVRage: Bryan Fuller wanted to put a new spin on the role of Freddie, modeling her more after Rebekah Brooks than Freddy Lounds. What do you feel are some of the most noteworthy similarities and differences?
Lara Jean Chorostecki: Thomas Harris describes Fredd"y" as: "lumpy and ugly and small. He had buck teeth and his rat eyes had the sheen of spit on asphalt". I am 5 foot 2, so I suppose we are both small, but I'm not sure we have any other physical similarities.... I do think Bryan has managed to maintain a lot of Freddie's male counterpart's personality traits, in both his adaptation of aspects of the novel, and his use of Rebekah Brooks. Fans of Red Dragon will see that she is no less shrewd in trying to get ahead, no matter the cost.
TVRage: Freddie is quickly becoming someone that the audience “loves to hate”. Do you find it bizarre that, on a show where one of the protagonists is a serial killer and a cannibal, your character is considered a villain?
Lara Jean Chorostecki: The feedback on Freddie has been crazy!! I love the "Fannibals" who hate her as much as I love the fans who will defend her to the death! It makes me feel like we've done her right. It is interesting that she has quickly become a villain in a show filled with psychopaths, and one particularly evil protagonist, but I think that speaks more to the appeal of Hannibal and Mads performance. I've never really thought of her as a villain, but I think that's part of an actor's job. Freddie doesn't hide her moral ambiguity, I suppose. While she may be good at her job, you could argue, as Will Graham says, that her style of journalism is "obnoxious, and therefore disliked". In defence of her work, someone pointed out to me recently that she would not be where she is if she did not have the readership of TattleCrime, a likely ravenous group wanting to know every detail of atrocious acts.
TVRage: Personally, I find your interpretation of the character to be delightfully offensive. What input, if any, did you have in the creation of her?
Lara Jean Chorostecki: Bryan and his writing team have not shied away from her less than attractive qualities, and it's part of the role that I love. I worked with Bryan and David Slade at the start of the season crafting exactly how "offensive" she is, and how she learns to become better at getting what she wants. Every director who came in was extremely supportive and open to discussions on continuing to craft Freddie, which was such a blessing on a TV set. Hair, makeup, and especially costumes also worked together with the rest of the team to create Freddie's "armour", as we like to think of it. She truly is a group effort. And at the end of the day, she is delightfully reprehensible, isn't she?
TVRage: It has been heavily implied and actually revealed in some cases that, unbeknownst to them, Hannibal enjoys serving human meat to his guests. If Freddie were to consume flesh, without her consent, do you think the urge to publish such a shocking story would override any negative feelings she might have about the experience?
Lara Jean Chorostecki: Absolutely! Though there's a wonderful character trait of hers which is revealed in Episode 9 that speaks to this question.
TVRage: Do you know if there are there any plans to make TattleCrime.com into a functional website?
Lara Jean Chorostecki: I've noticed that the fans have started to ask for it, and Martha De Laurentiis even retweeted one such request with a CC to NBC. I am not sure who owns that domain, but I would love to see a functional TattleCrime.com!
TVRage: In Amuse-Bouche (Season 01, Episode 02), the FBI bursts into her room, throws her to the bed, binds her hands, and interrogates her. Where most people would be terrified, Freddie is defiant. Besides being scooped, is there anything she is afraid of?
Lara Jean Chorostecki: That's a good question, and one that we certainly talked about. In that particular scene, it is established that Freddie has a bit of a history with Jack Crawford, so I think that's where some of her defiance comes from. They are familiar with each other, and have perhaps played this game before, even if this FBI encounter is more elevated. Fans will have to stay tuned to find out if anything finally shakes Freddie. Red Dragon is planned for season 4....
TVRage: In the aforementioned episode, after Freddie is caught doing something, Hannibal says, “You’ve been terribly rude, Ms. Lounds. What’s to be done about that?” The scene then cuts away to Hannibal serving dinner. How do you think the remainder of their conversation went?
Lara Jean Chorostecki: I think that scene is delightfully ambiguous. Not only does that ending provide a great cut to the pork being served, but also leaves us in the dark about what exactly has transpired between Freddie and Hannibal. Mads and I chatted about this, and I know he finds Freddie fascinating, but what is behind Hannibal's reasoning for letting her go, and what he discussed with her, remains to be seen.
TVRage: Bryan Fuller has been quoted as saying that, ideally, “the fourth season would be Red Dragon”. These are tentative plans, and anything can change, but I imagine this has had an impact on you. Is it a relief, to know he wants you to be around for a few more seasons or is it disquieting to have an expiration date looming over your character?
Lara Jean Chorostecki: I'm very excited to see what Bryan does with his source material over the next while. It's exciting to know that Freddie has a journey ahead of her, and working with Mads, Laurence, and Hugh has been a dream. As far as "Freddie's" concerned, she doesn't know what lies ahead for her yet, so I like to treat each scene on set with that in mind. I do look forward, however, to hopefully honoring Harris' iconic "expiration date" on Lounds.
TVRage: In 2012, you had a recurring role on BBC America’s Copper. Will you be reprising your role this year, as Sybil O’Brien?
Lara Jean Chorostecki: I will! I just finished 3 episodes with the wonderful cast and crew. I love playing Sybil. Dylan Taylor, who plays my husband, is such a joy. The husband/wife dynamic that the writers have us exploring is a treat.
TVRage: I understand you are involved with some charitable organizations. Would you mind explaining a bit about the work you do?
Lara Jean Chorostecki: I have a passion for animals, and spend a lot of my spare time working with various organizations here in Toronto. The Toronto Feral Cat Project is a great initiative that seeks to help humanely control the feral cat population, and I work with educational outreach to help our communities come together and implement Trap Neuter Return policies. I also spend more hands-on time with the animals working with the Toronto Cat Rescue, which is a no-kill shelter that is 100% volunteer. Next week, I am working with the OSPCA and their No Hot Pets campaign. I also am passionate about the work of the Brain Tumour Foundation, which is a cause near to my heart. So I suppose I keep busy in my spare time. I think it's so important for the soul to give back to your community, something that probably never crosses Freddie's mind. :)