17 Jan 17by Webmiss
VANITY FAIR – “There are are no rules. It’s complete and utter chaos,” Aubrey Plaza says of FX’s first comic-book series, Legion. “It’s a post-truth comic-book show! The fake news of comic-books shows!” star Dan Stevens chimes in.
Topical Donald Trump jokes aside, the actors are right. In an X-Men spin-off world focusing on David Haller (Stevens)—a potentially schizophrenic, potentially superpowered young man—reality is constantly bent to the breaking point. And on set, creator Noah Hawley (of Emmy Award–winning Fargo fame) ensured that for Stevens, the experience was as disorienting as possible.
Speaking with Vanity Fair at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, Stevens admitted that as his character hopped back and forth between multiple realities, his show-runner kept the actor firmly in the dark: “David has to accept all the realities as possibly real. Noah was really good about forcing to be off balance.” Pointing a finger at co-star Aubrey Plaza, he added, in a mock-accusatory tone, “She knew a lot more than I did about what was going on . . . maybe that’s just my paranoid delusion.”
But Plaza—who demonstrated her ability to lie with deadpan precision throughout this interview—grinned and said, “I knew more than he did, but I would pretend I knew even more. Just to mess with his mind.” And it’s easy to see how Stevens would be thrown. In between anecdotes about shooting Legion, Plaza would casually drop a lie. For example: “The warehouse was like a maze. All our sets were in these weird, dark corners,” she said. As Stevens nodded along at that first part—which was true)—she added, “We had strobe lights on every corner.” At this detail, Stevens cracked up—the interview equivalent of a lie-detector test.
He burst into laughter a short time later as she placidly added that the show once involved a cut subplot in which their characters were obsessed with The Bachelor. “No, no, no,” Stevens said through guffaws. When asked, Plaza said she wasn’t sure how often her good-natured falsehoods make their way into print. “Oh, I don’t know. Probably all the time,” she replied with a grin. “I try not to read any of it.”
But Plaza’s flexible relationship with the truth is far from the only disorienting aspect of Legion, which uses mind-bending camera angles (“It’s upside-down day,” Hawley recalls announcing to the cast on set) and a reality firmly unmoored from our own. Stevens calls the show’s look a “fake nostalgia for a 60s/70s aesthetic” that constantly gets disrupted by modern touches, like an iPad.
“I didn’t realize until I had my first wardrobe fitting,” Plaza said of the unusual look of the show. “This is what I’m wearing? Why is that? When does this take place?”
But for all the mind-bending unreality of the show, Stevens revealed that most of the special effects—including a show-stopping scene in David’s kitchen—were done, surprisingly without the benefit of C.G.I. “They blew those drawers,” he said. “They packed them with everything. You watch closely, and there are Pringles and playing cards flying through the air—”
“That was real?” Plaza interjected. “I thought that was fake.” Looks like this time, Plaza was the one in the dark.