Dan Stevens on David Haller’s Evolution in ‘Legion’ Season 2
The star of 'Legion' on what's next for David, as he returns in the April 3 season premiere on FX.
Dan Stevens is back as the mutant David Haller in “Legion,” premiering April 3 on FX, as the series returns for another fascinating and offbeat season.
On the set of “Legion” Season 2, visiting press watched as Stevens filmed a scene between David and… Well, to even discuss who or what he was interacting would be saying too much. But suffice to say, things continue to be as intriguingly cerebral and surreal as fans would want from the show.
During a break from filming, Stevens sat down and spoke about how David, no longer sharing his body with the Shadow King (who continues to be a threat from afar), is different in Season 2. He also discussed the dynamic between David and Syd (Rachel Keller) after David returns from his long absence — having been taken away by that mysterious orb at the end of Season 1 — and why he loves “Legion” not always giving quick and easy explanations for what is occurring.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Question: We’re meeting up with David a year after we last saw him. How has that year changed him?
Stevens: For David, it hasn’t been a year. So, he’s kind of getting his head around that, for a start. For everybody else, it’s been a year, and a lot has happened in that year. And yeah, David’s had another strange experience. He thought his problems maybe were solved with the expulsion of the Shadow King, but actually, it’s not that simple.
Question: What’s it like for David now that we’ve gone from having sort of an internal villain [in Season 1] to dealing with something more external?
Stevens: There’s still a lot of internal conflict in David, and if you know the comic books, there’s still quite a few characters left in there that we’ve got to deal with at some point. The Shadow King was a big deal, and there is some sort of structural changes, I guess. The structure of the components of David have been reshuffled and they’re reconfiguring at the same time as, you say, there is this external threat. Everybody’s becoming much more aware of that. There’s maybe a partnership with Division Three that definitely wasn’t on the cards last time I checked, so that’s kind of strange. It’s an interesting thing where everybody assumes that this externalization means everything is really straightforward – “David is now on our side, everything’s going to be great and we’ll solve this war situation.” But it’s never that simple.
Question: How does the year away affect things for Syd and him?
Stevens: That’s the really interesting shift, and an interesting turn for their relationship, and we do see kind of a maturing and deepening of that relationship. But the great issue of trust comes along. I think anybody who gets into a relationship with somebody like David has to assume a certain amount of lies with the truth, or certainly a kind of [altered] perception of reality. But in some of these situations, it seems that David is just flat out lying. And even he’s not sure if he’s telling the truth some of the time. So that complicates the relationship for sure and they have to work on some of those issues together.
Question: What’s been really key for you with building the David and Syd relationship onscreen?
Stevens: I think it’s always interesting to develop those sort of long running romantic relationships and there’s obviously the classic ‘Will they/Won’t they?’ type trajectory. This being “Legion,” it obviously takes a slightly different angle on that, and I think it asks some quite complex questions about relationships. And like I say, putting David in a relationship with anybody is going to be quite a fascinating dynamic. Obviously, you still have the incredible obstruction of not being able to touch, so there are these psychic spaces that they continue to occupy. The mind play that goes on in a relationship is fascinating, and it fascinates Noah [Hawley] as a writer, along with the exploration of that kind of relationship. Putting that in our universe, it just gets weirder.
Question: Now that he’s free of the Shadow King, how is David evolving this season?
Stevens: Well, that’s another interesting question. You have somebody’s identity with an illness, or with some sort of external body inside them, and then their identity without that. So what remains and how attached to that was he? What’s the dynamic there? David’s obviously very fond of Lenny in a kind of weird, hostage-y way, but nonetheless, he feels that absence. So he’s got a bit of that, at the same time as dealing with Syd and her trust of him.
Question: How are David’s mutant abilities this season a reflection, or connected to his emotional life?
Stevens: I guess when looking at super powers in these sort of paradigms, there’s always the evolution, the sort of baby giraffe stage of not really knowing how to wield these things. And then there’s that sort of flush of ego, where you think, ‘Wow, I’m invincible, I can do all these things!’ We saw a bit of that in Season 1, and that sort of continues into Season 2. He also starts to feel that maybe he’s being used a bit as a weapon, and maybe nobody was actually interested in him after all and it’s actually his abilities, which, again, is a sort of interesting take on that kind of predicament. And, he certainly runs up against some characters who he can’t fully manipulate in the way that he seems to be able to manipulate most people, which is an interesting obstruction.
Question: Do you think audiences are more receptive now to this sort of show where you don’t necessarily get all the answers handed to you on a plate? And are you as an actor getting more comfortable with that ambiguity?
Stevens: I love ambiguity. And I hope that the audiences are entertained by that. I wouldn’t want a show that sort of told me everything in hour one, because if I got the joke and all the information in one hour, then I wouldn’t need to watch the other nine, or 20, or whatever. I’ve really enjoyed the response to Season 1 – that people have felt really, like, wonderfully confused by the show, and rewarded visually. Hourly, there’s a lot going on, and a lot to unpack. And like a great novel, it’s something you want to dive into and find out that you don’t really care how many pages there is because there’s just something delicious about that journey.
“Legion” Season 2 premieres Tuesday, April 3 at 10:00pm ET/PT on FX.
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