'Legion's' Noah Hawley wants to build you more than an emotional roller coaster

Greg Braxton, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

LOS ANGELES -- Believe it or not, Noah Hawley does find time to sleep. But you'd be forgiven for doubting that he can afford to lay down his head for more than a few minutes after a glance at his current schedule.

He's completing the concluding episodes of "Legion," FX's kaleidoscopic series about a powerful mutant who is also grappling with schizophrenia. The third and final season of the series, which was created by Hawley and links to Marvel Comics' "X-Men" universe, premiered Monday.

Meanwhile, he's putting the finishing touches on his feature-length directorial debut, "Lucy In the Sky," starring Natalie Portman as an astronaut who starts losing touch with reality after returning from a mission into space. A release date has not yet been set for the Fox Searchlight production.

He's also written three scripts for the fourth installment of FX's Emmy-winning limited series "Fargo," which will star Chris Rock as the head of a crime family in 1950s Kansas City. Production is scheduled to begin in October.

And if that wasn't enough, he's planning a new novel -- his sixth. His other books include "A Conspiracy of Tall Men," "The Good Father" and, most recently, the bestselling "Before the Fall."

Hawley, who commutes between his home in Austin, Texas, and Hollywood, smiled last week as he considered his ability to juggle so many high-profile projects while maintaining his sanity.


"I wish I could bottle it and then drink from it," Hawley said. "I feel a little bit like the little pencil nub who is going, 'Get another pencil already. Why are you still using me?' It's never my goal to be overwhelmed. Obviously, I'm a good multi-tasker. But even I get overwhelmed. I can't explain how to do it. I can only do it. If I take the time to explain how to do it, I'm going to miss something."

The task of overseeing and producing the mind-bending "Legion" would be more than enough for most writer-producers. While anchored in the comic book world, the show's eccentric characters, thematic complexity, eye-popping visual style, and disorienting plotting are worlds beyond conventional superhero tales. Although the series has been hailed by many critics and fans, others have found the material not only challenging but impenetrable. Those viewers even have a "Legion" "hate thread" on Reddit.

"Legion" stars Dan Stevens as David Haller, a tormented young man who may also be the world's most powerful mutant. In the first two seasons, David, allied with a group of fellow mutants at a remote facility called Summerland, confronts both government forces and a powerful parasite known as "The Shadow King."

The Season 3 opener serves as a quick recap of the past two seasons while offering up more examples of the show's penchant for irreverent mind-bending: a teenage time traveler, a red bus called "the yellow bus," a pregnant virgin and a musical number involving crowded moving clothing racks.


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