It’s full steam ahead for FX’s X-Men-based “Legion,” which just received an order for an eight-episode first season. Fresh off of the pilot, showrunner Noah Hawley weighed in on what separates the show from the rest of the “X-Men” films, if David Haller will be related to Professor X and more during an interview with HitFix.
In the comics, Haller has a troubled history and was frequently (and often times incorrectly) diagnosed with conditions such as schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder. As to Haller’s status in “Legion,” Hawley explained, “The diagnosis that he has when we meet him is schizophrenic. he hears voices, and he sees things that are maybe real or aren’t real, and he’s not sure. I want to explore, on some level, the reality of what it’s like to have those abilities in a more existential way. So it’s not, ‘You have these powers; now run!’ More in the idea that you go through your life with this identity as a crazy person, and then someone comes along and says, ‘No, actually, you’re perfectly sane, and have the abilities you have,’ which sounds like what a crazy person’s thoughts would be. I love the idea that even when you’re in it on the journey, there is this ‘Alice in Wonderland’ quality to it, of a story within a story.”
Asked if the show takes place in a world that knows and fears mutants, he said, “No, it’s not. It’s a little more of a fable in my mind. If you were to say, ‘Where is it, and when is it?’, it’s not exactly clear, I think. And a lot of it is because he’s not exactly clear. It’s the world as perceived subjectively on some level. The recent ‘X-Men’ movies, starting with ‘First Class,’ are rooted in a time period and a world and playing with history in interesting ways. This isn’t doing that… It’s a standalone kind of thing.”
“There’s so many of these characters who are actually invulnerable, and there tends to be a black-and-white morality in some. And with ‘Daredevil’ and ‘Jessica Jones,’ you have these tortured anti-heroes, which I find interesting to a degree, but this show is a more whimsical and more surreal kind of look at these characters,” he shared. “I feel like where one can get into trouble is to take these stories from the comics, to take the Dark Phoenix Story and change it. You’re bound to offend somebody, no matter what you do. So instead, I’m taking this character and set-up, and just playing with it.”
He also addressed whether or not Haller will be related to Professor X, just as he is in the comics: “He could be. It’s a different story, but I’m not ruling that out,” he teased.
The show comes from Hawley and stars “Downton Abbey’s” Dan Stevens as David Haller, the son of Charles Xavier and a man with mental illness and haunted by voices in his head. “Legion” will also star Aubrey Plaza, Jean Smart, Jeremie Harris, Amber Midthunder, Rachel Keller and Katie Aselton.
“Legion” is in development at cable network FX, with Hawley on board as a producer. According to the official description, “Since he was a teenager, David has struggled with mental illness. Diagnosed as schizophrenic, David has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for years. But after a strange encounter with a fellow patient, he’s confronted with the possibility that the voices he hears and the visions he sees might be real.” Set to debut on the network in early 2017, production is set to begin this summer in Vancouver.
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