Jemaine Clement as Oliver Bird in LEGION “Chapter 9” – Season 2, Episode 1. Photo by Prashant Gupta/FX.

Dan Stevens as David Haller, Bill Irwin as Cary Loudermilk, Christine Horn as Dr. Orwell in LEGION “Chapter 9” – Season 2, Episode 1. Photo by Suzanne Tenner/FX.

Navid Negahban as Amahl Farouk in LEGION “Chapter 10” – Season 2, Episode 2. Photo by Suzanne Tenner/FX.

Jean Smart as Melanie Bird in LEGION “Chapter 11” – Season 2, Episode 3. Photo by Suzanne Tenner/FX.

Amber Midthunder as Kerry Loudermilk, Bill Irwin as Cary Loudermilk in LEGION “Chapter 12” – Season 2, Episode 4. Photo by Suzanne Tenner/FX.

Dan Stevens as David Haller, Rachel Keller as Syd Barrett in LEGION “Chapter 12” – Season 2, Episode 4. Photo by Suzanne Tenner/FX.

“Legion”

May 1, 2018

By 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 ether 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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