Premiering August 13th on TNT is Legends, a new espionage thriller developed for TV by three-time Emmy award winner Howard Gordon (24, Homeland). Legends stars Sean Bean as Martin Odum, an exceptional deep-cover operative in the FBI. Every persona Martin assumes becomes one of his “legends”, and Martin has an extraordinary empathy that allows him to move in and out of these personas with ease, but when a stranger calls into question everything he believes, Martin begins to wonder if his entire identity is merely another construct of the FBI.
Bean joined cast mates Ali Larter, Tina Majorino, and Morris Chestnut, and Showrunner/Executive Producer David Wilcox on stage at WonderCon this weekend to preview a couple clips and discuss what audiences can expect from the new espionage thriller. Check out a full Legends WonderCon panel recap after the jump, which includes my rundown of the footage and bullet point highlights from the panel conversation.
We saw two brief clips from the pilot episode. In the first, Martin notices a strange man following him. When Martin confronts him they have a scuffle, Martin asks who the man is. “I don’t know,” he replies. “Who are you? Who do you think you are?” The man says that Martin can no longer see where his legends end and his life begins. His entire identity is a lie. “Trust no one” the stranger warns.
The second clip introduced Ali Larter’s character, Crystal McGuire. Bean is in costume as one of his legends, as is Crystal, they’re in a strip club, and she’s giving him a lap dance. They sneak whispers to trade clandestine information. A stern, unsmiling man interrupts them and tells Martin they need to go. Crystal speaks into a headpiece, “They made him.” The voice on the other end asks how she knows that. “I read people, that’s what I do,” she replies.
Unfortunately that was all we got to see in the way of footage, but the panel revealed some more about what we can expect from Legends:
- The series is based on the 2005 book “Legends” by Robert Littell and has only been filming for two weeks.
- It films in L.A., but the plot will travel all over the United States…as long as the setting can be replicated in Los Angeles.
- Bean plays Martin Odum, an undercover agent who assumes many personalities, or “legends”, in the line of duty. Bean was attracted to the idea of getting to play so many characters saying, “it’s fascinating and every actor’s dream”.
- Larter plays Crystal McGuire, another undercover agent in the field with Odom. While Martin is a bit of a renegade, Crystal is a buy the book agent who, according to larger, is always saving Martin’s ass.
- Marjorino know is back behind the computer as Maggie. She said she knew people would draw comparisons between this character and the much beloved Mac from Veronica Mars, but she thinks they’re very different characters. Maggie is a grown-up, Walmac still has a useful vivacious mess. And for the record no, Majorino is not tech savvy herself.
- Morris Chestnut plays a detective investigating a murder, when he discovers that Martin Odom is connected, he begins to suspect a bigger cover up within the FBI. His character does not appear in the pilot.
- Thematically, the show intends to explore the idea of identity and finding out who you really are. They also want to explore a new side of espionage. What is the cost of being a hero? What happens to the agents when they go home? How does the work they do change them as a people?
- Larter said that was one of the main elements that attracted her to the show. She liked that it doesn’t just show agents in the field. It shows them “the moment before and the moment after”.
- Wilcox describes the conspiracy element and grounded and realistic, saying that though it feels like science fiction, it is actually science fact.
- While the show has a procedural element it is not driven by cases or capers, it is driven by Martin and his quest to find answers.
- Wilcox says, “the more [Martin] digs into what this mystery is, the more he gets trapped in this wilderness of mirrors where he has difficulty telling his legends from his life.” The show will explore how that affects every aspect of his life, both at work and at home.
- Bean said it’s not that hard to play mulitple characters, even though he’s done up to three in one day, because he usually changes wardrobe and hair and has time to transition between them. He said the big challenge is transitioning between multiple characters within a single scene.
- Naturally, the big question on everybody’s mind is whether or not Bean will survive the show. Wilcox was obviously unwilling to answer that, but joked that since Bean playing so many characters they can kill him all the time.
- The first season has a ten episode order, and the season is meant to be self-contained, but there is a seven season plan if the show does well.
Watch the trailer for Legends below. The series premieres on TNT August 20th. Click here for all our WonderCon coverage.