Dominion's Chris Egan & Vaun Wilmott Talk Mythology, the Hero's Journey, Differences from Legion, Future Seasons & LOTS More
With "Dominion" premiering June 19th, Syfy recently hosted a conference call with star Chris Egan and exec producer/creator Vaun Wilmott, and we have the highlights for you here.
Settle in a bit because it's a long, wide-ranging discussion that touches upon the mythology of the TV show vs. the movie (2010's Legion) and how things have changed - Wilmott promises for the better - in this adaptation. He also describes the caste system in place in Vega society, what other worlds and supernatural beings we might see, and what the plan is for future seasons.
Egan elaborates on his character (soldier Alex Lannon) and his relationships with both the Archangel Michael and the upper class Claire Riesen. Of course the great Anthony Head's name comes up as well as how much like the angels we know from religion these guys really are.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Dive in, and be sure to tune in Thursday night for the premiere of "Dominion" on Syfy.
Q: Chris, how did you get involved in the project, and what attracted you to it?
Chris Egan: I was approached by my managers. There was a few things I was looking at, a few different scripts, and I heard about this one through the same management company [that reps exec producer] Scott Stewart [director/co-writer of Legion]. They brought it up to me and discussed it… I’d 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.
And 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 completely blown away. And I loved the idea that we were taking this to Cape Town, South Africa, as well. To me, it just sort of felt that they were really taking this seriously. We weren’t just sort of going off to Vancouver or somewhere local, you know; we were really going to take this production somewhere that was really special. I was totally blown away by it.
Q: Vaun, how much of the mythology from Legion is going to be in the series? Is it completely the same mythology, or have you changed things?
Vaun Wilmott: It was definitely 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 new rules, new terms, new angels, new mythology for the chosen one. Then of course a whole new setting, all new characters with just a couple of the characters from Legion moving into the 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."
Q: Can you walk us through what the world of Legion is now like in "Dominion," a quarter century later?
Vaun Wilmott: In terms of what the world is like, 25 years in the future, it’s got contemporary aspects… it’s definitely grounded. It’s definitely a big "what if?"…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 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, [ and] built a wall around it to protect this from the angels. But it will definitely be a recognizable world in terms of things we know…
Chris Egan: For those that are fans of Legion, this will be a whole new story, and for those that haven’t seen Legion, it really is a whole new world 25 years in the future. The world of Vega and this fortified city… the land is desolate apart from these fortified cities. It’s a completely different spin to the movie.
Q: Chris, Alex has been described as rebellious in nature; can you talk about that a little bit?
Chris Egan: The story is that hero’s journey that he takes 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, and the pitch of the story for me was so interesting and where that was going to go. 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 [the Archangel] Michael and [Alex's true love] 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: I’ve always loved characters that have a strong point of view and something’s thrust on them 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 - like John Conner in The Terminator. You know, characters that have something about their personality that fights against what’s being done to them or have had… Alex’s journey has 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 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 Alex’s character, about Chris’s character.
Q: Alex and Michael seem to have a complicated relationship. How will we see that evolve throughout the season?
Chris Egan: I’d like to think there’s a Star Wars element to this, the teacher, the student, and those roles that reverse. 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 struggling with this responsibility and learning about the tattoos and learning about his destiny, it gets tense with Michael and then it’s back on track, and it’s this back and forth. It’s been really wonderful to play with Tom [Wisdom] as well, the actor who plays Michael. It’s just been fantastic. He’s a great actor, and yes, it’s a great relationship.
Q: And what about Claire, played by the lovely Roxanne McKee? It sounds like it’s also a complicated kind of thing.
Chris Egan: Yes, Romeo and Juliet. And really it’s that great unattainable love. Their love is full of tribulation. And the responsibility; in the pilot Alex just wants to get out of Vega. He’s got the love of his life; he’s got his family. He’s just ready to get out and he’s over the system; he wants the freedom. But then there’s what happens in the end and the responsibility and this great calling. And then there’s a responsibility that Claire has to Vega, and we go into that back and forth. They take that road, sort of discovering themselves, discovering the responsibility that they both have, and it’s going to be interesting to see where that goes.
Q: Vaun, will the action primarily occur in Vega, or will we be moving on to other cities as well?
Vaun Wilmott: In the first season we’re very much based in Vega. It was important to establish that world, establish all the characters, establish "Dominion" 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 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 overwhelm right upfront. And so that definitely was the focus for the first season.
Q: These angels are so different from the traditional ones that we were brought up with as children. Do either of you personally believe in angels? And does that affect your performance, Chris? And your writing, Vaun?
Vaun Wilmott: That is a great question... Two things: One is the show is very much non-denominational. You know, I always intended it to actually not make a statement about religion. I really view the angels, Michael, Gabriel, and all the other angels, as literary characters, storytelling characters, as interesting as supernatural characters, as interesting as vampires and werewolves and ghosts or anything else that’s being used in genre right now. So for me it was very much about just simplifying it, just seeing it as a literary creation. There’s a 'God' and that God has angels and these angels are doing X, Y, and Z in this story.
For me, I have my own personal faith, but it isn’t like I grew up fascinated by angels or had that be a focus of my religion. This show is purely for entertainment, purely for storytelling purposes, and they don’t really intersect with my own personal beliefs other than the way that all storytelling is informed by what you believe in all ways, not just in your religious beliefs. You know, the themes you’re interested in, the things that attract you to characters of the storym but for me, those two things are separate.
Chris Egan: I agree with Vaun. Yes, I have my own personal faith and I think really it’s about… there’s a greater good, you know. I’ve always been very fascinated with that outer world. Like with "Kings," we took a biblical story [and made it modern day. Now we’re taking angels that are in the bible and we’re putting them into this world… it interests me, and I want to know these guys, I want to discover their world. This story resonates with me, and I think - as an actor and as a person - maybe I don’t quite understand subconsciously why I’m so attracted to it and what it is the message in this story, what we’re trying to say. But yes, I think it hits on all those points.
Q: Will we be seeing any other sort of beings coming into play during this series? Will a 'God' or a higher power or anything that can kind of rival these angels be coming into play during the series as it develops?
Vaun Wilmott: There definitely will be new and exciting angels, new additions, and expansions of the mythology. But you know… those will all be spoilers if I were to say anything now
Q: We've heard from people that are pre-judging the show because they were a bit disappointed with Legion. How can you get those people to tune in?
Vaun Wilmott: I think the most important thing is to give it a shot. If they have interest in genre, if they have interest in supernatural anything, if they have interest in angels or just good characters and drama, give it a shot because it really is its own thing. It’s not called Legion. It’s called "Dominion."
Chris Egan: Yes, essentially this is a hero’s journey, this is a hero’s story, this is Alex, this is his discovery of himself. And really it’s about taking the audience with him… I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised. It really is a completely different world to where the movie is at. And of course, being 25 years in the future, it really is far from the movie.
Vaun Wilmott: One quick thing… "Buffy" was [first] a movie that some fans loved, some fans didn’t. And then it became a very new and different show that was very popular that people really loved and embraced. I think they’re two separate things. Personally I liked the movie. I saw Legion and I was a very attracted to it and I thought it was well done, but in terms of our show, it really is its own thing.