“Legion”

May 3rd, 2018

Anna Wyckoff

Continuity is always a major consideration when portraying a character in costume, but on the FX series Legion, it is critical. With plots that leap back and forth in time and between parable and reality, the show is a continuity jigsaw puzzle, which presents special challenges for Costume Designer Robert Blackman. Unlike a more linear script or a comedy, Legion meant he has to decipher both the story and the characters. Blackman explains, “The real challenge was how to read the scripts and know what was imagined and what was real. I had to figure out what layer of psychological reality I was dealing with. If I can do that, I can explain that subplot and when it’s put together it has it’s own kind of life.”

Blackman also cites a kind of verbal shorthand with show creator Noah Hawley as part of the creative process. “He’ll say, ‘I need you to come up with something vertical and sleek.’ Just those descriptive adjectives,” Blackman says. “I think he knows I’ll get it. So I come back with an image and he says, ‘Yes, that’s fantastic’ almost a hundred percent of the time.” Having that kind of working relationship means Blackman can not only respond to guidelines like “Surprise me…” from Hawley, but respond with aplomb. “I think you either learn to love that kind of work, or you just freak out, and I’m not a freak out kind of guy.”

As a veteran of many television shows, Blackman relishes the challenges presented by the environment on the show, with actors who are similarly dedicated to their characters. Much of the series plays out in the mind of David Haller (Dan Stevens) and Blackman looks to iconoclastic punk figures like Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten to portray a character shuffled from one mental institution to another. “They want to be unique and unto themselves. I find myself working really well with all these young people. I try to join in, bringing my experience to the project. I’m loving the fact that I’m having to reinvent myself.”

Legion is streaming on FX.

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