Courtesy of Michelle Faye/FX.
Elaborate dance sequences may not seem like a draw for Marvel fans, but Dan Stevens, who stars as mutant David Haller in FX’s Legion, can assure you they’ll pop up in almost every episode of his new series. These impromptu musical numbers — like the one in a psychiatric hospital that interrupts the show’s brilliant, chaotic pilot — are just one of the many ways that Legion, helmed by Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley, subverts its superhero genre.
“We’ve all been picking our brains as to how it will be received, because it has such an unusual shape to it,” says Stevens, known for his previous roles in Downton Abbey and High Maintenance, in which he played a cross-dressing stoner. Indeed, the series fluctuates in tone, from exuberant and cheeky to deeply disturbing, as it follows David, the schizophrenic son of X-Men’s Charles Xavier, in his struggles to parse reality while others try to harness his violent, unpredictable powers.
Stevens believes the constantly destabilized state of his character echoes a larger, more foreboding trend today. “Legion is so bonkers, but it’s such a bonkers time on the planet,” says the British actor, who was shooting the series as Brexit and the U.S. presidential election were unfolding. “There’s something about this terrifying post-truth moment that David seems to slot right into.” Meanwhile, Stevens has had his own coping mechanisms for these trying days. “I’ve been reading A Christmas Carol for a film I’m doing,” he says. “I’ve really just been trying to focus on the goodness of humanity. It is there. I’m positive it’s there.”
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