×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

5 Takeaways From ‘Legion’ Creator Noah Hawley’s SXSW Conversation

Noah Hawley has had an impressive run these last few years, and with “Legion’s” early success it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon. Originally a songwriter and then an author, Hawley sounded like a true director when he spoke at South by Southwest on Saturday in conversation with New York Times best-selling and Pulitzer Prize finalist Philip Meyer, whose AMC series adaptation “The Son” premieres on Sunday.

“The more I do this,” he said, “the less I want to have pages of dialogue. [Television is] a visual medium, and today – with people’s 70-inch TVs and the ability to watch without commercials, it might as well be the movies.”

With his repeated adage – “What else can I get away with?” – Variety reports on Hawley’s most interesting tidbits from the conversation:

He wants to stay grounded in Hollywood:

“I was very happy in San Francisco with my life, and this whole thing could have been a lark,” Hawley said. “It could’ve added up to nothing that would’ve been fine. I remember telling myself to not let go of that feeling. The last thing you want is to be desperate in Hollywood. What I’m writing today is what keeps me grounded and excited, not what I’ve done or am going to do.”

He believes television writers should develop a distinctive voice:

“TV is all about learning to write in someone else’s voice, so if you do it long enough without selling your own project, they assume you don’t have your own voice, you’re just a good mimic,” he said. “The writers’ room was invented because in TV they used to make 22 or 26 hours of one show and there’s no way one person can write all that and because you’re always filming when you’re writing, you need 15 people … When you’re only making 10 hours there’s no excuse to not make it your own.”

He believes it’s never too late to edit the story:

“The second season of ‘Fargo’ is a good example,” he explained. “I ended up needing to reshoot some of that episode and re-cut a lot. I didn’t want to do what ‘Game of Thrones’ does – you do your Tyrian Lannister story for 10 minutes and then you never go back to it. The whole point of ‘Fargo’ is that all these people are on a collision course and we needed to keep them alive. We found this split screen idea in post, which was not the original intention.”

He wants “Legion” to hypnotize you:

“‘Legion’ is meant to be a show that is a state of mind. But the problem with TV is that there are commercials,” Hawley said. “There’s a hypnotic quality to the way we put it together. I need to get you out of your life in the first seven minutes of that show.”

He says creative freedom is not a fight at FX:

“They want to break ground if they can,” Hawley said. “The job at broadcast is to figure out what the dumbest person in the room is going to think. That’s not the case at FX.”

WATCH: Noah Hawley & Dan Stevens’ ‘Legion’ Variety Cover Shoot

More TV

  • RENT: Top L-R to Bottom L-R:

    TV Shows to Watch the Week of Jan. 21, 2019: 'Rent: Live,' 'Celebrity Big Brother'

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Rent: Live” airs on Fox and “Celebrity Big Brother” returns for a second [...]

  • Black Monday: How Showtime Dusted Off

    'Black Monday': How Showtime Dusted Off An Old '80s Logo For Its New Comedy

    Cocaine’s a hell of a drug, but you’re not seeing things: That, indeed is Showtime’s old 1980s-era logo pasted all over marketing materials and promos for “Black Monday,” a tongue-in-cheek tale of the excesses exhibited by Wall Street traders in the lead-up to the stock market crash of 1987. The logo, which hasn’t been in [...]

  • 'Russian Doll' Review

    TV Review: 'Russian Doll'

    This is a particularly tricky review to write, but not because the merits of “Russian Doll” are at all ambiguous. On the contrary, the show is so striking and smart that I made a note to include it on my favorite TV shows of 2019 immediately after blowing through the season — which is saying [...]

  • Black Earth Rising Review

    TV Review: 'Black Earth Rising'

    Bringing to bear a talented cast on a story of real geopolitical significance, “Black Earth Rising,” Netflix’s drama about the long-tail aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, would seem to have had the potential to be one of 2019’s early television successes. Which makes its falling short all the more painful and pronounced. The show, previously [...]

  • DIRTY JOHN -- "This Young Woman

    'Dirty John' Finale Hits New Ratings Highs in Live+3

    The Season 1 finale of “Dirty John” on Bravo continued the scripted show’s ratings hot streak in Live+3. The finale, which aired on Jan. 13, grew to 3.3 million viewers in delayed viewing with 1.3 million of those falling in the key adults 18-49 demographic. That is up 10% in total viewers and 15% in [...]

  • Sky and Warner Bros. Alums Join

    Sky and Warner Bros. Alums Join ITV-Backed Production Company Possessed

    Former Sky One and Sky Living programming chief Adam MacDonald has joined Possessed, and will be the ITV-owned production banner’s first chair. The U.K.-based unscripted producer has also hired Lesley Davies, former head of international production at Warner Bros. She will head up production. The double hires follow a recommission  of gameshow “5 Gold Rings,” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content