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 actor Harry Lloyd, who’s playing iconic X-Men character Charles Xavier, aka Professor X, said during a group interview on set where he talked about not fully realizing who he would be playing when he was offered the role, what it’s like to take on such a well-known comics character, the homework that he did, how this version is different from what we’ve seen previously, how Charles reacts to meeting his adult son, time travel, the Shadow King, what’s still to come in Episodes 307 and 308, and whether we might see him in the famous wheelchair.
Question: How does it feel to play Professor X?
HARRY LLOYD: It’s great. So, I got this call in December saying, “You’ve been offered a part in Legion.” And I was like, “Amazing!” And the breakdown was, “His name is Charles. He’s a war veteran, but believes in the good of humanity.” And I was like, “Sounds interesting.” I didn’t realize. And then, they said, “You’ve gotta Skype with Noah [Hawley] on Monday.” So I spent the weekend watching the first season of Legion, and realized, which I hadn’t done before because I hadn’t seen it, that the X in the title was the big link back to the Marvel Universe. So then, I was talking Noah that Monday and asking him questions, and he was told me about Episode 3, and then about Episodes 7 and 8. He was chatting and saying, “Of course, Charles does this. Charles Xavier . . .” And I was like, “Wait, what?! Oh!” I pretended that I knew, but I hadn’t pieced it together. But then, obviously, that made it even more exciting. I’m not really in the business of being offered parts, out of the blue, so it’s been a wonderful adventure. And then, I had to sort out moving to L.A. for three months. Luckily, my wife and dog and baby all followed me, and it’s been great. It’s such a fun show to work on. Even just doing a few episodes, there’s a crazy creative crew who are always doing really interesting stuff in the camera. They’ll say to you, “This is how it’s written, but we’re gonna do something a bit different.” It’s just really collaborative and playful, and it’s a really close knit, little family. It’s been absolutely brilliant.
Did you look at any previous performances?
LLOYD: I did my homework. I watched all of Legion, I watched all of the X-Men films, and I’d seen a couple of them, back in the day, and I went to this great comic store, called Mega City Comics in Camden, in London, and I found a really good geek there who found me a lot of different source material. One of my favorite things about Legion is that, having watched the X-Men films, and seeing [James] McAvoy and [Patrick] Stewart in these live-action portrayals of him, and the comics, and the different things that they had in common, but then you look at Legion and it gives you permission to throw that all away, to a certain extent. I’m glad that I saw it, so that I knew what I was getting into. It’s such an irreverent, ridiculous, surreal show, that I didn’t feel that I had to do the straight-laced Charles that we know. The story that we’re telling doesn’t really allow for him to always be in control and very pope-like. He’s a young man, and he’s been thrown into his own story before he’s ready because of what’s happening in the future with David. He’s actually quite lost for most of it. So, to play someone who’s normally quite grounded, thoughtful and deliberate in his actions, and to see him before he gets there, as a young man who’s confused and doubtful and exploring his own powers, and it’s his first time ever on the astral plane, that’s been really fun.
How is your version of the character different from the past live-action versions?
LLOYD: We started off doing Episode 3, which is entirely in flashback, and that’s the story of how Charles came out of the war and ends up in this sanatorium, or mental institution, and falls in love with Gabrielle. The way he uses his powers, at that point, is to get into the heads of men with PTSD and help them, but he hasn’t really unleashed them, or thought of them, in terms of doing a wider good. He’s still keeping a lid on it, and keeping it very secret and private, and living in hiding himself. And then, he goes and moves to suburbia and has this child, and he stats this new life with this woman. He makes this prototype of a cerebral type contraption. That’s when he sees Farouk, for the first time, in his basement. It’s this man in Morocco, who has the same power as him, and then, this big change happens. When he realizes that he’s not alone, he becomes very serious and quite fraught, and actually abandons his wife and child. He’s quite perturbed by it, but he also cannot avoid it. I felt that he realized that he’d been in denial, for a long time, about what he had, and he has to explore this. Charles, suddenly, is now in the realm of someone else with seemingly even greater powers than he. He’s constantly waking up in a different place, and he feels like he’s in a dream. You realize, watching Dan Stevens’ performance, from the first two seasons, there are so many times when he seems to be reacting to something that’s not there, and it’s very staccato and confused, and it’s almost like he’s in a dream. I found this Charles, who was quite composed in Episode 3, suddenly becoming more like his son, in terms of how he’s reacting to baffling situations.