Noah Hawley Talks Exploring Legion’s Lead Character, Casting Dan Stevens

Noah Hawley is a busy man. While working on a third season of the critically-acclaimed Fargo, adapting Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle for TV, and writing one of Universal’s upcoming monster movies, he also decided to dive into the world of the X-Men on television with Legion. Speaking with IGN, Hawley spoke about crafting the story for the series and how it’s an exploration of the lead character.

“My approach to the Legion material is similar (to Fargo), which is it’s about a respect for the world, but it’s not about telling stories in that world that the reader is familiar with. It’s about taking that character and really exploring, almost on an existential level, what it’s like…So, I would be remiss, I feel like, if I didn’t deconstruct this, if I didn’t really try to do something for the genre that feels personal and interesting to me and to really explore if you have a character who for his whole life has believed that he’s schizophrenic, and is now starting to think that he may have these powers, but he doesn’t know and he doesn’t know what’s real – well, that’s the experience the audience should have. To be put into his world is to enter something that’s by definition surreal, because he’s hearing things, he’s seeing things… Are these things real or not real? What can you trust that you’re seeing? And he’s stuck in this moment until he meets a girl and he falls in love and now he’s got something to hope for and that’s the catalyst that pushes everything forward.”

RELATED: Bryan Singer Teases Legion’s Connection to Future X-Men Movies

Building off of speaking about his lead character, Hawley talked about casting Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey, The Guest) in the title role, saying:

“I think what you need in a leading man is their real skill is that you’re able to see what goes on behind their eyes. I’m not a big fan of having characters say their truths out loud, so you have to show them. But still, the audience has to know what’s going on in his head, and Dan is great for that. He’s also a great romantic lead, which I think we’ve seen, and he has a sense of humor, which is important to me.”

Legion introduces the story of David Haller: 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. Dan Stevens (The Guest), Rachel Keller (Fargo), Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) and Jean Smart (Fargo) star in the series that is set to premiere on FX in 2017.