‘Legion’ EPs Lauren Shuler Donner & John Cameron on Introducing Professor X and Time Travel

     July 8, 2019

From show creator Noah Hawley and Marvel Television, the FX drama series Legion is back for its third and final season, as David Haller (Dan Stevens), a man who believed himself to be schizophrenic only to discover that he is the most powerful mutant the world has ever seen, is forced to confront his actions and the decisions that he’s made. With the dark voices in his head lusting for power and at odds with everyone he once considered a friend, David is now leading a commune to satisfy his need for adulation and he’s enlisted the help of the young mutant Switch (Lauren Tsai), with the hope that she can help him time travel and repair the damage that he’s caused.

While Season 3 was still shooting, Collider got the opportunity to tour the incredible sets at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood and participate in a series of interviews to talk about all things Legion. Here are the highlights from what executive producer Lauren Shuler Donner and executive producer/director John Cameron said during a group interview on set, where they talked about ensuring that showrunner Noah Hawley’s vision gets on the screen, that this series was always envisioned as a three-season arc, their rules for time travel, introducing Charles Xavier, aka Professor X, for this last season, collaborating with the directors from episode to episode, and how Legion has been different from other projects they’ve done.

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Image via FX

Question: In this third season, given that you have the opportunity to bring everything some closure, what did you need to do, as producers, to support showrunner Noah Hawley and get him to the point that he envisioned?

JOHN CAMERON: He’s very self-sufficient, as a creator and writer, so our role is to support that, to read what he writes, to give him honest feedback, and to give him reactions, at least from my point of view, as a viewer, as well as a producer, in regard to, does it make sense to me, in terms of the show that I’ve seen and that I enjoy, and does it clarify or bring to a conclusion, all of the various storylines that have been seeded throughout the first two seasons. It’s really just an honest reaction to his work. That’s the most valuable thing for him, in my regard. The production side is a whole different issue, which runs like clockwork. But I try to respond as a viewer and fan of the show would.

LAUREN SHULER DONNER: As a producer on the production side, it’s getting that vision to the screen and working with each director. We have a different director for each episode, except for John, who directed two of them, so it’s about getting what Noah wants and his vision onto the screen, with each director’s take on it without taking away from what we know Noah’s intention is.

Do you feel like this show has been a successful proof of concept, in that you can do these more unusual things in a superhero story?

CAMERON: I hope so, honestly.

SHULER DONNER: I come at it from a different angle, after producing most of the X-Men movies. The best way to come to television was not to follow or imitate the movies, but to start in a different universe, so it has been enormously successful, in that respect, in terms of affecting the industry. It’s tricky because sometimes you can do it to the point where people don’t understand. You can emphasize the visuals so much that you lose the heart and soul of the narrative.

Because this is such a complex story that’s told in such a complex way, would it have been impossible to keep going for more seasons?

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Image via FX

SHULER DONNER: I don’t know. Noah had the desire to make it a three-season arc. Could he have kept on going and kept it compelling? Absolutely. Noah can do anything.

CAMERON: Or could there be another three season arc? It’s theoretic, but sure. It’s so fertile and the mythos is such a tapestry of different stories and different characters that I think it’s eternal, in a certain way. Certainly, the comics have done it for decades, and I think television and film can do it, as well.

When it comes to introducing Switch this season, have you guys had to come up with rules for time travel?

CAMERON: Yeah. Switch is completely innovative and interesting. She’s an enigma. We don’t really know what she’s about and why she’s here, but we’ll find out. We tackle the travel rules and the astral plane rules, script by script. That’s part of the process of, can they do that? How did we get there? And then, sometimes we have to look back and go, “When this happens, this has to happen.” It’s a continually evolving approach to our internal story logic. Calling it logic is pushing it.

SHULER DONNER: We try to do it. With the time travel, she goes through doors, so we have a hall of doors. At a certain point, we decided to define it, so that each door was a different time, whether it’s 20 minutes in the past, one hour in the past, one day, or one month. That helps define that device for the audience.

CAMERON: Although, by late in the season, those rules fall apart. She causes those rules, and bends them. So, we’re always like, “What now?!” It’s a lot of fun.

Lauren, having worked on so many X-Men projects throughout the years, what were you most cognizant of, in bringing in one of the most iconic X-Men characters, this season, with Professor X?

SHULER DONNER: I’m cognizant of his legacy. Personally, it’s a thrill for me. I remember the day on X-Men: Days of Future Past, when we had both Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy on set. Everybody was thrilled, not just James and Patrick. It keeps the legacy going, within the canon, to show a young, naive, just finding his powers Charles. It finishes a Charles Xavier story, at the right time, in that Fox is now moving to Disney and there will be a whole new iteration. Universes have synced in a wonderful coincidence.

What does Harry Lloyd bring to the role, that we haven’t seen in the character before?

SHULER DONNER: He brings more of a vulnerability and a naiveness, in the way that Charles might’ve been, at that time. In the legacy and the whole mythos of it all, he was unaware that other people have powers, or we’re saying that, so he brings that point of view to the character.

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