Legion season 3: creator Noah Hawley on Change, evil David & Professor X


From the primary chapter of his mind-bending FX collection Legion, creator Noah Hawley (Fargo) aimed to subvert the expectations of comedian e-book tradition. Legion occurred within the X-Males universe the place “mutants” and man combined and mingled, however gone was the blockbuster bombast. David Haller (Dan Stevens) resembled his super-powered counterpart — a telepath with dissociative id dysfunction — however his battle towards the Shadow King was psychological and fraught with ideological peril.

Then the tip of season 2 occurred. Now David is the villain, Syd is on the hunt, Amahl Farouk is working with Division 3, and the dynamics we thought we knew have been subverted as soon as once more. Polygon had an opportunity to speak to Hawley about his inventive selections for season 3, which introduces David’s father, Charles Xavier, grapples with the antihero’s sexual assault towards Syd, and can in the end wrap up the collection.


Polygon: What was your inventive timeline after Legion season 2 ended final summer time? You discovered time to write down and direct a film, Lucy within the Sky, which bows later this yr, and also you signed Chris Rock on for Fargo season 4. Someplace in there you wrote and shot this last season.

Noah Hawley: To be truthful to myself, I used to be meant to have extra time. I sat down with each Searchlight and FX collectively to speak about once I may make Lucy and Legion season 3. The preliminary dialog was that I’d make Lucy after which we’d push season 3. That didn’t find yourself being what occur, so … it’s a little bit of a blur to me. I assume I made season 2 of Legion, went into prep on the film, then shot the film. After which the day that we wrapped the film, I used to be 12 weeks out on Legion season Three and needed to write all of these scripts whereas I used to be enhancing the movie. The movie is in its last combine stage proper now, even because the present is in its last combine stage. Someplace within the final three months I did a Fargo author’s room and have written three scripts.

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Season 2 ended on a darkish word that primarily turned David into the collection’ villain. Did you may have a leap on writing season Three because you knew the place the story was headed?

I don’t know how one can inform a narrative that I don’t know the way it ends as a result of the ending is what provides the story its that means. I all the time had a way of the place the story was going to finish, however that doesn’t imply it’s straightforward to determine precisely how one can get there in a satisfying manner. And for a present that hopefully undermines among the tropes of the style, it turns into much more necessary to stay your touchdown. If you happen to’re not going to have Avengers: Endgame, everyone combating for 45 minutes, and also you wish to have an alternate method on how one can finish one among these tales, you higher have thought it via and delivered one thing that’s satisfying.

If Avengers: Endgame and most comedian e-book storytelling is about going greater and greater, was the concept of Legion all the time to go smaller and smaller?

Right here’s what I’d say: if the metaphor for lots of those motion pictures is conflict, the one technique to resolve battle is thru conflict, I believe we now have to say that you’ve a winner however the loser doesn’t change. Defeat doesn’t equal change, proper? Solely change equals change. So for those who’re searching for a personality to make some sort of change or transformation, then winners don’t change as a result of they gained. And losers don’t change — they only get indignant in the event that they’re not lifeless. You already know what I imply? So you should discover another technique to create actual change in your story and characters aside from conflict.

The season Three premiere is sort of fully centered on a brand new character, Change, a Japanese girl with the power to time journey. How did you wind up beginning there?

This story was designed to be a subjective present from David’s perspective, so within the first two seasons, we noticed the world via his eyes, and he was our hero. And as season 2 went on, and because it ended, we realized that he was a conflicted and unreliable narrator. So it felt, to me, what we would have liked to do in season Three is to step out of his perspective into an goal perspective after which inform the remainder of the story from that perspective. As a way to try this, you must really change factors of view. The concept of ranging from a real outsiders vantage felt higher to me than merely switching to a different character within the present, which I believed is perhaps complicated on some stage.

Coming in via an outsider’s eyes means that you can to essentially see David as a stranger. To go like, oh, this man’s a bit nuts. He’s a guru. He’s surrounded himself with acolytes who love him unconditionally, probably as a result of he’s planted that concept of their minds. And he talks about when he was within the psych hospital and there was a monster in his head, and also you’re like, this man’s a bit loopy. Like once we have been in his head, all of it made sense. She additionally then sees Syd and the others from an goal perspective. So it’s not that we don’t return into David’s perspective, or change to Syd’s or any of the opposite characters, nevertheless it did permit the present to modify its method.

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The present is understood for disorienting views, and now you’ve added time journey to the combination, which appears tough. How did you incorporate that

What’s nice is that it does offer you a possibility to be playful. Usually it’s utilized in a really critical manner, however what I really like about how that first hour got here collectively is that, as a result of we dwell in linear time, we are able to’t assist however assume that the story that we’re going to watch goes to unfold in linear time. And it does — we stick with Change till the second the place one thing traumatic occurs, after which she’s in a position to journey again. It reminds us! We knew she was a time traveler, however we didn’t actually know the way that may influence the story. I believe that makes her a really dynamic and thrilling character as a result of, if he can all the time change his personal path now, how may they ever get forward of him? Then clearly because the season goes on, we begin to play with time in a visceral and structural manner, each for the characters and likewise for the viewers.

You wrote a Physician Doom film for Fox which will or might not see the sunshine of day. Did you be taught something about writing for a villain on that script that you would apply to David?

It’s all the time attention-grabbing to consider these phrases, “heroes” and “villains.” There’s a trope that you just’re solely pretty much as good as your villain, which I believe is true, however I believe it additionally signifies that the present or the film is barely good if the villain is dynamic and compelling and attention-grabbing and understandable. A lot of what you face within the escalation of those motion pictures within the final 15 years has been … you find yourself with a villain who desires to destroy the world … why? It by no means actually makes a lot sense. However you want the dimensions of the destroying the world with a purpose to justify the dimensions of the motion required to cease him.

What I’m involved with, in Legion particularly, is the character of on a regular basis evils, the evils that we do to one another. We projected [the drama] onto a worldwide scale, however actually it’s about what David does to Syd, and what his mother and father did to him. That’s the place the true evil, these issues, are addressed: in precise human interactions. Physician Doom is a little bit of a special character simply because he’s the king of his personal nation and he wasn’t my manner into the story, he’s an enigmatic character, however the film, if we make it, if it’s completed proper, there’s a compelling story there about this man who it’s not clear if he’s a villain but.

What I admire concerning the X-Males is, for those who take a look at Magneto’s character, he’s a man who can and does stroll on each side of the ethical spectrum. Typically he’s engaged on the facet of excellent and typically he’s engaged on the facet of evil and that appears extra reasonable then simply the mustache twirling villain.

If Physician Doom wasn’t the primary character of your Physician Doom film, who was?

Wouldn’t you prefer to know? Perhaps we’ll make it. He’s not our manner into the film, let’s simply put it that manner. That doesn’t imply he’s not the star of the film, simply not our manner in.

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Final season provoked a serious response from viewers when David mentally “drugged” and sexually assaulted Syd. How does the arc of season Three reply to that flip, and maybe the response itself?

There’s a quote within the second episode that Syd says to David, which is a Margaret Atwood quote, I imagine, the place she says, “Males are afraid that ladies will chuckle at them. Girls are afraid that males will kill them.” It’s a profoundly unsettling concept.

I assume what I’d say in addressing this entire situation is that, I’m very conscious that, the comedian e-book viewers traditionally, and the comedian film viewers [seeing] household motion pictures, there’s a robust faction of younger males and boys, 15 and up, 13 and up, who learn these tales, who love these tales, and I believe it’s necessary to have a dialog about energy, and male energy, in our tradition. If we don’t discuss this stuff than then they’re not addressed.

The concept no means no, and cease means cease, and consent is actual, for those who make that a part of these tales, that are entertaining, definitely, and satisfying, hopefully on an motion stage and viscerally, now you’re having an actual dialog along with your viewers about issues which can be necessary in that matter. I concentrate on the younger males and boys, nevertheless it’s additionally necessary for all genders to have the ability to have this dialog and to have it as a part of our public discourse and likewise in our artwork in order that all of us perceive that may doesn’t make proper.

Season Three introduces us to Charles Xavier, David’s father. What was your method to writing for that character contemplating the mainstream viewer’s information of “Professor X”?

I believe we now have some vary, given the truth that Legion exists in a little bit of an alternate universe from the X-Males motion pictures, and since it’s a little bit of a subjective look from contained in the thoughts of somebody who doesn’t actually understand actuality the way in which that everyone else does. If you happen to take a look at the present, it’s each 1964 and the longer term. And we don’t know precisely the place it’s and the world, so it’s a little bit of an allegory. I believe the dialog about Xavier and bringing it in to the story, which we needed to do due to course he’s David’s father, and in our story, David was given away as a child to guard him. And any adopted baby desires to search out their beginning mother and father and perceive the place they got here from and why their mother and father didn’t elevate him. So we needed to go there.

After which the query was, which Charles Xavier is it? Is he a younger man? Is he an older man? I believe within the mythology he’s clearly a youthful man, and I believed it was attention-grabbing that if we may journey via time, that when David faces his father, they’re mainly the identical age. That was attention-grabbing.

In a number of interviews throughout season 2, you mentioned that the mathematical feeling of setting up plot drove you to write down “Chapter 14,” an episode that imagines totally different outcomes of David’s life. Did season Three push you in an identical manner, and what have been the outcomes?

The sixth hour capabilities quite a bit as a standalone, and is certainly a whimsical departure from the story, but additionally, I believe, a extremely crucial technique to look at Syd’s character and to speak about one thing that’s actually crucial to this present, and to this season particularly, which is about parenting, and the way we elevate our youngsters. If we raised them with love and the appropriate instruments and the appropriate understanding of the world, then they’re going to be wholesome individuals who create a wholesome world. And if we don’t, then they’re not.

To the diploma that this present has confirmed to me to be a child present for adults and an grownup present for kids of a sure age, I believe it’s necessary to have a look at the way in which we elevate our children. Clearly David wasn’t raised correctly, and that contributed to his character. And character is every thing in a narrative, so if we now have the prospect with Syd to essentially take a look at her character … she grew up too quick. She talks within the season about how she had her first drink when she was 9 years previous. After we noticed our in season 1, she talked about how, if anybody can simply come into her physique and alter locations along with her, then she doesn’t actually personal her physique, and that’s okay.

Effectively, it’s not okay. All of us want a wholesome sense of self after which additionally a way of the duty that we now have to others. What I really like about this present is that, as a result of it’s a style present, I can simply make these departures and do an episode that could be a a number of alternate universe episodes, not for plot causes, however for theme and character causes.

Essential last query: the premiere reveals that David now owns an enormous pig. Why an enormous pig?

I assume the one reply to that’s: why not an enormous pig?

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