Production Design of the Mind: Behind the Scenes with ‘Legion’

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When your narrative universe might not be real, there are no rules.

Anyone who watched Noah Hawley’s Legion premiere this week on FX knows that besides being narratively fascinating, the show also has a unique, distinct, and unusual production design that somehow brings to life the chaos that may or may not exist solely in the mind of David Haller; anyone who didn’t watch the Legion premiere this week, what’s the matter? You don’t like top-notch TV?

‘Legion’ is An Evolution in Superhero TV

Environment is everything to Legion, because the central mystery of the series, for now at least, revolves around how much of what is happening to David is actually happening, and how much is drug- or psychosis-induced. As such, the world(s) David actually moves through have to be as ambiguous as his mental landscape, there has to be a fluctuating balance between reality and uncertainty because the universe of the series must be labyrinthine in that the journey has to be as captivating and revelatory as the resolution. By employing 360-degree stages, an abundance of circular or curved corridors, and a lighting scheme that looks borrowed from Refn, the Legion crew manages to create a setting that questions reality while also conforming to it, in turn heightening the show’s glorious dubiousness.

In the following behind-the-scenes look at the series geared towards its production design, creator-writer-director Noah Hawley, production designer Michael Wylie, and the cast walk us through what it’s like to be immersed in such a creative world where so much effort has gone into obscuration and where every detail is designed to simultaneously distract from and inform the reality of the situation.

And again, if you are not watching Legion, you need to be. Forget the comic book context, a series like this shares far more in common with shows like Breaking Bad or Fargo (which Hawley also created, if you didn’t know) than it does Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Supergirl. It is, quite simply, a staggering achievement of character development and storytelling, and the physical worlds created around these elements are every bit as delightfully confounding as the narrative. Here’s how they brought them to life:

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