ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke with Last Light director Dennie Gordon about adapting the thriller novel into a limited series. Gordon discussed working with the young actor Taylor Fay and what it was like to work on the Marvel series Legion.
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“In the series, Petro-chemist Andy Yeats knows how dependent the world is on oil; if something were to happen to the world’s oil supply, it would set off a chain reaction: transportation would grind to a halt, supplies would cease to be delivered, law enforcement would be overwhelmed,” reads the synopsis. “While on a business trip to the Middle East, Andy realizes that his worst fears are coming true and his family is separated at this crucial moment. His teenage daughter, Laura, is alone at home in London while his wife, Elena, and young son, Sam, are in Paris. Amid this chaos, each family member will sacrifice everything to find one another, despite the distance and the dangers that separate them.”
Spencer Legacy: What was it about the Last Light novel that really appealed to you?
Dennie Gordon: I just thought it was so insightful. When something’s in the zeitgeist and you feel like this is a story that has to be told now, today, it just spoke to me urgently. It’s a theme that we all cared deeply about and we wanted to hurry and get the story out. It checked all the boxes for me. It was thrilling, it had tremendous heart, it was punctuated by the opportunity for tremendous action, which I love doing. It was, for me, the chance to showrun a show and bring all the people together to do it from top to bottom. So it was very, very exciting. And we hit the ground running! The minute Matthew Fox said, yes, we were off.
There are a lot of different scenes and many of them have the very talented Taylor Fay in them. How different is directing a child actor in such a dramatic role from someone like Matthew Fox or Joanne Froggatt?
We surrounded Taylor with lots of love. He was like finding a needle in a haystack, you know? Finding a child who could play blind. It was important to be a sighted actor, because this character was born with eyesight, and then slowly, for him, the lights went out. He slowly entered darkness and thematically that was so important for the show. Finding Taylor was unbelievably hard, [and]such a tall order: an actor who could play blind, an actor who could do that very proper English — he’s from Manchester. So it wasn’t his natural dialect he was acting. I just love that he was a natural kid. He was such tremendous heart. I met lots of kids and he’s the one … I wanted to Zoom with him and hang out with him.
He took me to the backyard and showed me his soccer goals and he kicked the ball around. I just thought, “this is such a beautiful, natural child and just a wonderful actor.” And he just took the journey with us in the most brave way. There were some scenes where he was just so into the moment … he was just so present. Sometimes I would call cut, and we’d have to say, “it’s really okay. It’s really okay.” [He] is such a sensitive, amazing child. [I’m] thrilled to introduce him. He’ll be working a lot if he wants to. He might rather play soccer, but he’s a wonderful actor.
You’ve directed both films and shows. How does that process differ for you?
I think the material expands to its proper weight and size. I really love working in this limited series space. I think it’s quite wonderful to be able to tell a story that is too big for a feature but only wants to go on for a short time. I love that you can attract a much more phenomenal cast if they don’t have to commit to something for weeks and months and years on end. I love that it has a beginning, middle, and end to it, which is really important. I just love the limited series form and the ability, hopefully, to not overstay our welcome and tell the story in a way that leaves the audience wanting more.
I’m very curious about your work on Legion. It’s such a unique show. What was it like to direct an episode of that compared to other series?
It was incredibly fun. Creatively, it was incredibly fun. Noah [Hawley, creator of the Legion TV series] writes these really hallucinogenic scenes and he has such an extraordinary imagination. It was just such a challenging and amazing ride to get inside the brain of Noah Hawley. It was really fun, um, to do something that different. We did all these crazy genre things. We did black and white silent films. From a visual effects point of view, it was just nonstop. It was chock-full. It was really a great experience. I love the way the episode turned out.