Diane Lane and Imogen Poots are also part of an extensive cast set for the pilot based on Brian K. Vaughan’s influential comic.
Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Eisner Award-winning comic series “Y: The Last Man” has long been touted as game-changing, an iconic property in the subgenre of post-apocalyptic media. It always had the potential to become the next great adaptation. That said, developing Y: The Last Man for either the big or small screen hasn’t been easy. We here at FSR have tracked the IP’s progress as it switched from film to television for years. And even then, it would take an even longer time before any official pilot order was actually made.
Still, if a story is striking and resonant at its core, better late than never. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the pilot of FX’s Y: The Last Man is now locked in its main cast several months after it was initially announced. Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk), Diane Lane (Man of Steel), Imogen Poots (Green Room), Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel), Juliana Canfield (Succession) and Marin Ireland (Sneaky Pete) make up a phenomenal ensemble that’s sure to bring the acclaimed comic to life.
In Y: The Last Man, all living mammals with a Y chromosome have been mysteriously wiped out by an unknown plague – all but two, anyway. Amateur escape artist Yorick Brown (Keoghan) and his Capuchin monkey Ampersand seem to be the only male mammals left on Earth.
Yet, as easy as it would be to train the focus on Yorick as the series protagonist, he isn’t your typical “Chosen One.” Despite reportedly being the last man on earth, he’s a slacker and underachiever. That doesn’t mean he isn’t bright or capable. Nevertheless, he definitely needs all the help he can get due to his recklessness.
Women, on the other hand, introduce diverse perspectives and skillsets to Y: The Last Man, operating as key players in a narrative that combats assumptions of gender, race, and class. Yorick’s mother (Lane) is a junior member of Congress who is willing to do anything for the ones she loves, even if it means prioritizing personal ideals over professional ones. Agent 355 (Lynch) is a Secret Service agent who upholds professionalism above all else. Hero (Poots), Yorick’s sister, is combative and tough, and her personal traumas inform her conflicting decisions. Beth (Canfield), a knife-maker based in Brooklyn, is Yorick’s potential love interest. Finally, Nora (Ireland) is the senior assistant and right-hand of the president. We don’t know much about her, except that she balances her work and home life exceptionally.
It’s not a stretch to believe that Yorick’s genetic makeup could be an important factor in Y: The Last Man. But the real hook in the story involves the powerful women surrounding him navigating this new world order.
Some of the main characters in Y: The Last Stand remain uncast. Notably, the role of geneticist Dr. Allison Mann has yet to be filled, despite her being one of the key protagonists in the comics. However, thus far, FX has already done a phenomenal job in making sure that such a highly-anticipated project secures some ideal names.
Keoghan will make a terrific Yorick, mostly because he’s charismatic and chameleonic on screen. He brings a sense of nonchalance to even the eeriest of characters, and we need not look further than Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer to witness his coldness. Yet, there’s warmth to be found in his role in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. Keoghan’s ability to play up his own normalcy in his roles – most recently in the grounded heist film American Animals – is his truest asset, and suits Yorick’s personality.
With Y: The Last Man, Lane is set to portray another motherly role in a comic book adaptation, although fingers crossed that she will be more of an active character in Y: The Last Man compared to her role as Martha Kent in the DC movies. Hilariously enough, she remains one of the best things about Man of Steel anyway. In her lengthy career, Lane has basically played every character type. She starred in George Roy Hill’s fluffy A Little Romance and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders in her youth. Her performance in Unfaithful – an extraordinary embodiment of intensity and urgency – netted her an Oscar nomination. Lane has even starred as an ideally likable rom-com protagonist in Under the Tuscan Sun. Y: The Last Man should be a piece of cake for someone with such a knack for expressiveness and emotionality on screen.
Poots essentially began her career in a post-apocalyptic project, running from “raging” humans in 28 Weeks Later. Like Keoghan, she has demonstrated an ability to exude a lack of self-consciousness in all of her work since then, even if she typically portrays more peripheral characters. Too often has Poots found herself relegated to playing the love interest (Need for Speed and Knight of Cups are the worst offenders in this regard). Thankfully, with Green Room, A Country Called Home, and Frank & Lola came actual starring roles that let her be broken and complicated. All of Poots’ characters display resilience in their imperfections, which makes her the perfect choice for Hero.
Meanwhile, veteran stage actress Ireland has had much better luck on TV than on film. Woman Evacuee in I Am Legend, Party Guest in Revolutionary Road, and Upset Visitor in Side Effects don’t make up the prettiest resume. However, on the small screen, Ireland has occupied recurring stints on Homeland, The Killing, and Girls. Her best gig by far has been her starring role in the ongoing Amazon series Sneaky Pete — the latest television venture by Graham Yost. It’s is as biting and clever as the show that first shot Yost to fame, FX’s Justified, and even features similarly layered female characters. Sneaky Pete is mainly about identity and reinvention, and Ireland gets to depict a woman who is nothing like she seems on the surface.
Comparatively, Lynch and Canfield have fewer credits to parse through, but relative newcomers always add a wonderful layer of fresh anticipation to a cast list. Lynch previously had main roles in the British comedy series Crims and the canceled Shondaland-produced Romeo and Juliet “sequel” Still Star-Crossed which only ran for seven episodes. She will be a featured player in Captain Marvel next year, although we have no idea who she’s playing just yet. As for Canfield, she only made her onscreen debut in the series Succession this June and will feature in the upcoming thriller Plain Fiction.
Fans of Y: The Last Man can rest easy knowing that a beloved source material won’t likely go to waste due to the promising talent involved. The journey taking Vaughan’s comic from panel to screen has been long and arduous. Still, Y: The Last Man just may be worth the wait as all the right pieces fall into place.