X-CEPtION tO thE RUlE
Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley talks bringing the X-Verse to the small screen with Legion
Mutants are finally invading our small screens in Legion!
Growing up in the 1980s, Noah Hawley pored feverishly over Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s classic Uncanny X-Men run. Thirty years on, the Fargo showrunner is reuniting with Marvel’s Merry Mutants, this time overseeing their first ever live-action TV series: Legion.
“What I’ve always liked about the X-Men is that it’s a metaphor for being an outsider, which is obviously very relevant when you’re a high-school kid of a certain type,” he reveals. “I also liked how the first X-Men movie starts in a Nazi concentration camp, so you know that it’s concerned with the real nature of evil.”
The first joint venture between Marvel Television and FX Productions, Legion centres around David Haller (Dan Stevens), a powerful psychic whose powers manifest through his dissociative identity disorder, resulting in his numerous personas boasting their own mutant abilities. But while X-Men director Bryan Singer has hinted that the eight-part series will “relate to some future X-Men movie”, Hawley insists that it will initially stand apart.
“There’s no overt connection, although in the comics, David Haller is connected to the main X-Men universe,” says Hawley. “We don’t have access to the movie actors, or their characters, who are protected by the film studio [Twentieth Century Fox], so my feeling was, ‘Let’s go in the opposite direction and do something completely different.’”
Indeed, in the comics David Haller is Professor Xavier’s son, although Hawley is in no hurry to reach that revelation. “We want to find our own way to that storyline before exploring it,” he continues, alluding to how Fargo didn’t reveal any links to the original Coen brothers film until the fourth episode. “There’s something satisfying about doing it that way. Let it be its own thing first, and then find a way to connect it to the thing that people love.”
Admitting that he was more intrigued by Dan Stevens’ turn as a “Terminator-esque supervillain” in 2014 film The Guest than his stint in Downton Abbey, Hawley believes that it was Stevens’ versatility that made him perfect for the role of David Haller. “In The Guest, he played a bad guy, who was really charismatic and very comfortable in his body, as well as really masculine and macho,” he says. “I liked that contrast of how he could be in a really sensitive period drama but also handle himself physically. He’s really great, and it happens so rarely, but when the actor is just right, you look at them and say, ‘Now we have a show!’”
Legion will debut on Fox in the UK and FX in the US in early 2017.