By: Ravi Persaud
Edited by: Anthony Zangrillo
Last year, TNT’s Legends took the Internet by storm with its #DontKillSeanBean viral marketing campaign. Based on a novel by Robert Litell, Legends is a spy thriller starring Sean Bean who plays Martin Odum, a spy who can completely assume the role of another person, known as a legend, for each case. Odum’s struggle to cope with his life outside his legends defined the first season. Odum would assume a new identity for each episode, keeping most episodes a self-contained story. The first season completed its run in October of 2014 with a cliffhanger and left many fans with unanswered questions.
Last week at New York Comic Con, The Motion Picture Club received the privilege of participating in a press conference with star Sean Bean and executive producer Ken Biller. Prior to this session, Bean and Biller were met with a standing ovation at the panel that screened the first episode. Bean, attending his first New York Comic Con, is well known for his iconic roles as Ned Stark in HBO’s Game of Thrones, Boromir from the Lord of the Rings movies and the Bond villain Alec Trevelyan in Goldeneye. Biller has produced television shows for 20 years working notably on Star Trek: Voyager, Smallville, and Legend of the Seeker.
The majority of the questions during the session pertained to the nature of the upcoming season. Due to the mixed reviews of the first season, the show runners completely revamped the product for the second season. Biller, who did not work on the show’s first season, says that this is a “new show, with the same central character.” He stated that there was no pressure to adhere to the previous format. The show will do away with the “case of the week” format of the previous season that Bean called “predictable.” The show will take place in two locations, London and Prague, each in different time periods. Biller discussed how challenging and rewarding it was to coordinate the costumes, sets, and props into a coherent show. He also believes that this season is “much closer to the [original] novel” than the last season because this season is “darker … and more complex.”
Instead of playing 10 different characters, Bean will only be playing two this season, Martin Odum, and his Russian doppelganger Dmitry Petrovich. Due to this change, he believes that this season will have “rich, diverse environments with rich, diverse characters … that [are] … darker, edgier … more thoughtful and more intelligent [than last seasons].” In preparing to play Petrovich, Bean stated he used his experience in Crimea to shape the character. He said that while the Russian mannerisms and accent weren’t very difficult, speaking the language was “quite difficult.” Despite this, Biller said that one of his favorite scenes involved Bean performing “entirely in Russian.” Bean also believes that he was able to learn more about Martin Odum by focusing on him in a more structured format. He was finally able to give “100%” to the character.
Biller spent some time speaking about a few of the new characters in this season. There are quite a few “new, fresh faces” that “people will get to know.” Steve Kazee, a Tony award winning actor, will play a “very complicated character” named Kurtis Ballard. Aisling Fanciosi, a young Irish actress who starred in the BBC show The Fall, will play “the emotional center of the story” for the second season. Rounding off the newcomers, Klára Issová, a very prominent Czech actress, will play a character named Ilyana Zakayeva, who will be the focus of episode 4.
Despite all this talk of change, fans of the first season need not worry! Biller assured viewers that there would be callbacks to the first season. Fan favorite Tony Rice, played by Morris Chestnut, will make appearances throughout the season, and yes, he does take his shirt off. This season will attempt to answer many of the questions left by the previous season. Biller also said that by the end of the season we would “get an answer to who Martin Odum is.”
Aside from questions about the show, various personal questions were directed to Bean. Asked about the aforementioned viral campaign, he said the TNT team surprised him, and he was happy to not be doing something similar this season. Playing a character who really ‘becomes’ his role, Bean said that Robert De Niro was the actor who he’s worked with in the past that really ‘became’ his role. His favorite place to film during his career was in New Zealand for Lord of the Rings, which he called “magical.” With a laugh, Bean also denied the rumors of him starring in the Wonder Woman movie.
The session ended with Biller declaring that the biggest reason to tune in this season would be “Sean Bean.”
Legends will premiere on November 2nd at 10 PM on TNT.