Black Girls’ Night Out: Phyllis “Bella” Crawford

Bella Crawford
The suits at NBC actually managed to do something right so far; let’s hope they continue to do so.  At the beginning of this month, they began airing Hannibal.  “Hannibal” is Hannibal Lecter, and the show is based off characters from author Thomas Harris’ novel Red Dragon.  I won’t go into much detail about this; if you’re a Lecterphile like me, you already know the backstory.  But suffice it to say that they’re staying true to the nature of the books, and they have an enormous playground to play on, as we do not know much about any of the characters prior to Red Dragon.

The reason why I’m even bringing this up is because the writers decided to make Jack Crawford, the head of Behavioral Sciences, a Black man, played by Laurence Fishburne. Jack’s wife, Phyllis Crawford (he calls her “Bella”), is played by his real-life wife Gina Torres.  It was a warm and delicious surprise to see that the writers decided to incorporate Jack and Bella’s relationship into the show.


We first see the marvelous Bella at Dr. Lecter’s dinner table, where she and her husband are dining on foie gras and figs.  Well, Jack and Dr. Lecter are dining; Bella refuses to eat because she thinks that the slaughter of geese for foie gras is cruel.  Dr. Lecter, the classiest epicurean this side of a bottle of Chianti, gets up to pour her some more wine and leans in close, taking in her scent. The look on his face is classic, like: "Damn, she smells good!"  This, of course, being the good Dr. Lecter, he merely tells her exactly what kind of perfume she's wearing.

The next time we see Bella, she is at Dr. Lecter’s office, talking to him about her illness.  Bella has lung cancer and doesn’t want to tell her husband about it.

The writers gave us a generous dose of Bella and Jack; we see them in bed, acting like a loving old married couple with a secret between them.  Gina is flawless in every single scene, and you can feel the love between her and her real-life husband. When Jack realizes what is going on with his wife, he shows up at Dr. Lecter’s office just as he is finishing up with Bella.  They talk about what’s going on and how it should be handled, and the scene is so potent and real that you’re left wondering if Gina really is ill.  

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call ACTING.

If you know the books, then you know Bella dies in Silence of the Lambs, and that Jack took care of her throughout her illness.  He was devoted to her, never cheated, never swayed, and was by her side to the very end.  Since we are dealing with events prior to Red Dragon, we’re not entirely sure where the writers are going to go with the storylines…but that some brilliant exec though enough of Mr.  & Mrs. Torres Fishburne to cast them as a married couple was enough to make me squee.  I don’t know how often we’ll see Gina on the show, but best believe I’ll be checking in whenever she does.


  1. Awww hell, Denny's gonna be thrilled! ♥

    and 'YAY!' for a set of network writers getting shyt right (so far)!

  2. Sounds promising so far. Hope you keep tabs and let us know what's up.

    1. Oh, I will. I'm a Lecterphile through and through and I am here for this show. It's beautifully shot, well-acted with a solid cast and good writing. It was such a thrill seeing Gina and Laurence do their thing.

      Also, Gillian Anderson (Scully for all you X-Philes) will be making an appearance later in the season.

  3. I have been meaning to watch this, I will try to catch up this weekend.


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