Set 25 years after the hit movie Legion, the upcoming Syfy series Dominion depicts a longtime war being waged between mankind and a group of rogue angels that has transformed the world as we know it. The series follows the perilous journey of a rebellious young soldier named Alex Lannen (Christopher Egan) who discovers he's the unlikely savior of humanity, set against a backdrop of the ultimate celestial battle as it touches down on earth. Star Christopher Egan and series creator Vaun Wilmott recently participated in a conference call where they offered new details about how they first became involved with the series, how the mythology of the Legion movie ties into the show, and much more.
"The producers of Legion, the movie Legion, were this company called Bold. And David Lancaster was the executive producer of that and he had carved out the TV rights to Legion so that once it came time to decide if they were going to do a sequel to it or if they were going to do a TV show or what they were going to do they decided to do a TV show. And they went out to a bunch of writers. They had some writers come in, basically pitch them on how they would do a TV show of the movie Legion. And I heard about it through my agent. I came in, I pitched on it, really hit it off with the Bold folks and David. They really kind of responded to the way I was seeing it. I met with Scott Stewart who was the director of the movie and also the co-writer of the movie Legion. And I got the gig. And so that's kind of how it all began for me."
Christopher Egan discussed how intrigued he was by the story, and how excited he was that the show was going to be shot in South Africa.
"I was approached my managers. There was a few things I was looking at, a few different scripts. And I heard about this one through managers that - you know, the same management company - they rep Scott Stewart. And they sort of brought it up to me and discussed it and I'd sort of - had a look at the script and it fascinated me straight away. Definitely wanted to get on the call with Scott and Vaun and just talk through the idea and where the series was going to go. I was very impressed with Vaun's vision, Scott's vision for the pilot, where they wanted to take the story and where they were going to take Alex. So I was just in that presentation, in that call with both of them - I was complete blown away. And I loved the idea that we were taking this to Cape Town, South Africa as well. To me, just sort of felt that it was - they were really taking this seriously. We weren't just sort of going off to Vancouver or somewhere local that, you know, we were really going to take this production somewhere that was really special. And yes, I was just - I was totally blown away by it."
Since the show is set 25 years after Legion, Vaun Wilmott said the movie served as the "jumping off point," although the series features a few characters returning from the movie along with a new characters.
"It was definitely the starting - the jumping off point. But for the TV show it's definitely expanded and changed and there's all kinds of new stuff. Legion was definitely kind of our foundation and then from there the show grew into its own thing with, you know, new rules, new terms, new angels, new - you know, new mythology, new mythology for the chosen one. Then of course for the TV show, you know, a whole new setting, all new characters with just a couple of the characters from Legion moving into TV show, the baby growing up to be Alex, Michael, Gabriel, Jeep. But it's definitely become its own thing in terms of the TV show, Dominion."
The series is set in the city of Vega, formerly Las Vegas, the largest of many fortified cities that have been built in the aftermath of this war, where two political entities vie for control as the war continues to escalate. Vaun Wilmott revealed that while the scope of the series is quite massive, Dominion is still grounded in reality.
"Yes, I think that - you know, in terms of what the world is like versus - you know, 25 years in the future, it's got contemporary aspects, t's definitely grounded. It's definitely a big what if, you know, what if angels appeared in the sky? What if this actually happened what would life - or what could life be like? So it's not an alternate reality. It is very much based in what could have happened and Vega has a lot of, you know, giant casino hotels that could actually be perfect for housing people if need be. And we use all of that to basically create this new city, this new civilization, built a wall around it as Chris said to protect this from the angels. But it will definitely be a recognizable world in terms of things we know. But it will also have things, I think, that, you know, the what if aspect of the storytelling."
Chris also spoke about his character Alex Lannen's rebellious streak, and the weight of his responsibility that he placed on him.
"Yes, well, I think - again, like what - in the interest - in the story is that hero's journey that he takes to - you know, to discover himself, to discover who he is. And that's sort of between being a man and the responsibility that's laid on his shoulders to save mankind. It's - from that beginning, you know, and the pitch of the story for me was so interesting and where that was going to go. And I think, you know, we establish that in the pilot but then as the episodes come on it gets crazier and crazier and the relationships around him are redefined between Michael and Claire and really it's about which path is he going to take as a man to realize and understand his calling in a sense upon his life."
Vaun Wilmott added that he is always excited by these kinds of characters, and that it is Alex's rebellious nature that keeps him alive.
"I've always loved characters that, you know, have a strong point of view and who really either something's thrust on them or that they didn't expect or didn't want or something's asking them to change in a way that's uncomfortable for them. And they fight against that, you know, like John Conner in the Terminator. You know, characters that either have, you know - something about their personality that fights against what's being done to them or, you know, they just have had - you know, Alex's journey ahs been a tough one. And so he's had to take care of himself, he's had to survive. So that rebellious nature has actually kept him alive. But now he's being asked to do something that he didn't expect, that he didn't ask for, it becomes a trick like - what is that rebellious nature going to do in terms of, you know, how he handles that destiny that he's been given. And I think from a character point of view that's where all of the fun of the storytelling comes in. And we get to watch Alex go through really the thing that we all watch characters for, which is just growth and change. We want to see what they're going to do. And that's what's exciting for me about Chris' character."
When asked what the one particular scene from the Legion movie he used to craft his pitch for the series, Vaun Wilmott had this to say, adding which aspect has been the most difficult to bring to life on the small screen.
"For me when I saw the movie Legion I really - when I saw two brothers, Gabriel and Michael fighting over this baby and having very different perspectives on what should happen to that baby and what that baby means, that was it. I mean I just immediately saw the series because I thought, you know, that baby grows up, 25 years later he's a grown man, what's happening to him now, what are the two archangels doing, what are they up to. And that's where it began, that's where I started building out the series. And the one thing about that is that in series we don't - I don't track kind of Gabriel and Michael's point of view in the movie Legion with - like in the series, it kind of became its own thing. But for me that was definitely the starting point for the series. And in terms of the kind of what is the most surprising or kind of the most difficult thing, I got to say this has been one of those crazy projects that has been, like - just a blessing, you know, in terms of - it just came out of me. You know, from the moment I started working on it and I wrote the initial script, I had this weird state that I went into that I ended up writing the original script in four days. My experience at the network has been wonderful, like, from beginning - top to bottom, all the way through. It really has been, you know, getting Chris on board, getting the cast, the actors we did, filming - filming in Cape Town. It was just a crazy good experience. So for me it was just a - one joy after another. And I think that the most - the really - it's really just been a gigantic learning curve. I just - the amount that I've learned about storytelling, about show running, about managing a crew and a set and interacting, interfacing with the network and the studio, I mean it's all just been a fantastic incredible learning experience. I learn every day."
Christopher Egan also spoke about his character Alex's relationship with Michael (Tom Wisdom), and how that evolves throughout the season.
"I mean that really is the - you know, I'd like to think, you know, there's a Star Wars element to this, the teacher, the student, and those roles that reverse, you know. It's a great relationship and it is constantly getting redefined. Alex is constantly learning more about Michael, and Michael is learning more about Alex. So it grows. It's constantly growing and as Alex is, you know, struggling with this responsibility and learning about the tattoos and learning about his destiny it's - it gets tense with Michael and then, you know, it's back on track and it's this back and forth that's - it's been really wonderful. And you know, really wonderful to play with Tom as well, the actor who plays Michael. It's just been fantastic. He's a great actor and - yes, it's a great relationship."
When asked if Season 1 will primarily be set in Vega, Vaun Wilmott said that it was important to establish the characters and that city, but future seasons will be expanded to New Delphi.
"In the first season we're very much based in Vega. I wanted to - it was important to kind of, like, establish that world, establish all the characters, establish - you know, Dominion kind of the series. But definitely in future seasons we'll be expanding out to New Delphi. We'll learn what the camp is, the camp is a city that moves, which is very mysterious. We don't really know much about it or who they are. So we will definitely explore the world and the world will grow out with, you know, each season as we go. But for the first season it was kind of important to orient the audience I think in the world of Dominion and then Vega so we didn't kind of overwhelm right up front. And so that was kind of - that's definitely was the focus for the first season."
Vaun Wilmott also spoke about the involvement of linguist David Peterson, best known for creating the Dothraki and Valyrian languages in HBO's Game of Thrones, and the Castithan, Irathient, Indojisnen languages in Syfy's Defiance. The linguist created a new language entitled Lishepus for Dominion, which Vaun Wilmott explained is used by the angels.
"You know, David Peterson is an absolute genius and the stuff that he creates is just incredible. And he did, he created a language called Lishepus for the angels and we do - we feature it here and there depending on - you know, where it's kind of the most dramatic and the best used. But it definitely is going to be in series. We try not to have it be, like, used in an entire scene where, you know, you've got giant, you know, blocks of dialog being said in it. But we definitely utilize it and when we do it sounds cool. David is amazing."