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Dominion Series Premiere Preview [VIDEO and PHOTOS + Vaun Wilmott and Chris Egan INTERVIEW] 

Photo Credit: Gavin Bond/Syfy
Photo Credit: Gavin Bond/Syfy

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

I’m a fan of the film Legion, so as soon as I heard there would be a TV series based on the film I knew I’d have to check it out. And there are quite a few familiar faces here. You may recognize Alan Dale from Lost, The Killing or Once Upon A Time. Anthony Stewart Head is probably best known for his roles on Merlin and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Chris Egan was the lead in the critically acclaimed, but short-lived drama Kings. The combination of a familiar and interesting concept executed with talented actors is all I need to sample this new series.

Series synopsis, from Syfy:

Based on characters from the hit theatrical film Legion (2010), Dominion is an epic supernatural drama set in the year 25 A.E. In this transformed post–apocalyptic future an army of lower angels, assembled by the archangel Gabriel, has waged a war of possession against mankind. The archangel Michael, turning against his own kind, has chosen to side with humanity against Gabriel. Rising out of the ashes of the 25 year-long battle are newly fortified cities which protect the human survivors. In Vega (formerly Las Vegas), the largest of these cities, two houses vie for control and the stage is set for political upheaval and a dangerous power shift. Meanwhile, a rebellious young soldier begins a perilous journey as the war between the human race and the fallen angels hell-bent on their domination escalates.

TV Goodness participated in a press call with EP/Creator Vaun Wilmott and series star Chris Egan. They discussed how they became involved in the series, how the mythology from the film has been translated and expanded for TV and working with such a great cast.

How did you become involved with this show?

Vaun Wilmott: “The producers of the movie Legion were this company called Bold and David Lancaster was the executive producer of that. He had carved out the TV rights so that once it came time to decide if they were going to do a sequel or if they were going to do a TV show they decided to do a TV show. 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. 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 responded to the way I was seeing it. I met with Scott Stewart, who was the director and also the co-writer of the movie, and I got the gig. So that’s how it all began for me.”

Chris Egan: “I was approached by my managers. There was a few things I was looking at, a few different scripts. I heard about this one through the same management company [that reps] Scott Stewart. 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. 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 [my character] Alex. So I was in that presentation, in that call with both of them. I was completely blown away. I loved the idea that we were taking this to Cape Town, South Africa as well. [It] felt [like] they were really taking this seriously. We weren’t just going off to Vancouver or somewhere local, we were going to take this production somewhere that was really special.”

Can you talk about the specific scene from the film that inspired your pitch for continuing the story for TV? What’s been the most surprising or challenging aspect or aspects of bringing it to TV?

Vaun: “That’s an easy one. For me when I saw the movie Legion, 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 just immediately saw the series because I thought 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? That’s where it began, that’s where I started building out the series. We don’t track Gabriel and Michael’s point of view in the movie. In the series it became its own thing. But for me that was definitely the starting point for the series. The most surprising or the most difficult thing – I’ve got to say this has been one of those crazy projects that has been just a blessing. It just came out of me. 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 top to bottom, all the way through. It really has been getting Chris on board, getting the actors we did, filming in Cape Town. It was just a crazy good experience. So for me it was one joy after another. It’s really just been a gigantic learning curve. 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.”

How much of the mythology from Legion is going to be in the series? Is it the same mythology or have you changed things?

Vaun: “It was definitely the jumping off point. But for the TV show it’s expanded and changed and there’s all kinds of new stuff. Legion was 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, for the TV show 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.”

Will we see any other beings come into play? Will a God or a higher power or anything that can rival these angels come into play during the series as it develops?

Vaun: “There definitely will be new and exciting angels, new additions and expansions of the mythology. So yes, but those will all be spoilers if I were to say anything now. We’ll be expanding. We’ll keep growing the mythology, definitely.”

Give us a walk-through of the world.

Chris: “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.”

Vaun: “It’s got contemporary aspects. It’s definitely grounded. It’s a big, ‘What if angels appeared in the sky? What if this actually happened?’ 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. 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 the ‘what if’ aspect of the storytelling.”

What about Alex’s rebellious nature? Can you talk about that?

Chris: “In the story is that hero’s journey that he takes to discover himself, to discover who he is. That’s between being a man and the responsibility that’s laid on his shoulders to save mankind. From that beginning the pitch of the story was so interesting and where that was going to go. I think 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 [Archangel] Michael and [love interest] Claire. Really it’s about which path he [is] going to take as a man to realize and understand his calling in a sense upon his life.”

Vaun: “I’ve always loved characters that have a strong point of view and either 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. They fight against that like John Connor in The Terminator. Something about their personality fights against what’s being done to them. Alex’s journey has been a tough one. 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. What is that rebellious nature going to do in terms of how he handles that destiny that he’s been given. From a character point of view that’s where all of the fun of the storytelling comes in. We get to watch Alex go through 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, about Chris’s character.”

Photo Credit: Gavin Bond/Syfy
Photo Credit: Gavin Bond/Syfy

Alex and Michael seem to have a complicated relationship. How will we see that evolve throughout the season?

Chris: “Great question. 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. 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. It’s this back and forth that’s been really wonderful. [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 it’s a great relationship.”

Can you describe Alex’s relationship with Claire? It also sounds complicated.

Chris: “Yes, Romeo and Juliet. Really it’s that great unattainable love. Their love is full of tribulation. [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 ready to get out and he’s over the system, he wants the freedom. But then there’s this 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 discovering themselves, discovering responsibility that they both have and I think it’s going to be interesting to see where that goes.”

Photo Credit: Gavin Bond/Syfy
Photo Credit: Gavin Bond/Syfy

How was it working so intimately with Roxanne McKee as a castmate and scene partner?

Chris: “She plays that strong woman. She was fantastic and fantastic to work with. There was great chemistry, the natural connection between the both of us and it’s a great love story. It’s a really great love story.”

Photo Credit: Gavin Bond/Syfy
Photo Credit: Gavin Bond/Syfy

Can you talk about working with Anthony Head and what he’s brought to the series as a cast member and scene partner?

Vaun: “Tony Head is just Tony Head. He’s so funny, he’s so talented, he’s smart. The guy just pops off the screen and I think the Buffy fans will be really interested to see him in such a different way because he plays such a different character than he did on Buffy. David Weel is this rakish and manipulative, charismatic, articulate power broker. I think it will be a big surprise for the fans of Buffy and Tony Head to see him in Dominion. It’s really a whole new Tony.”

Chris: “I agree with Vaun. I was very lucky to have him. He’s fantastic. He’s just an absolute professional and working with a great like him, you learn a lot, you learn a lot from these guys.”

Vaun: “On Dominion we really lucked out. The level of cast that we have on the show is just a cut above, just amazingly talented group of actors that bring a heightened world to life with a real legitimacy. You know what I mean? Just as a fan, when I watch the dailies and watched the episodes I really believe it. I believe what I’m seeing and that’s a testimony to really great actors.”

Was it a conscious decision to have Tony Head do an American accent since we usually don’t see that from him?

Vaun: “It’s funny. I think I’ve seen a little bit of that on comment boards. But yes, the whole idea was that it was set in America, it was the western states of America. It’s called the Cradle, which is what’s left of what know of humanity. So it was important to have it be American characters. The funny thing about the show is I don’t think we have a single American on the cast. I think that the entire cast is either British, Australian, or New Zealand. But yes, he’s an American on it and he does a great accent. He sounds the part.”

Chris:
“Yes, he’s got that politician thing down so well.”

Vaun: “Yes he definitely does.”

This society is a very strict caste system. What’s the thinking behind having these very specific social structures and people unable to move between them?

Vaun: “It basically was a system that General Riesen created at the founding of Vega when they were still fighting the war against the eight balls and the angels. They were quickly trying to build a wall at the same time as fighting off these onslaughts. So it was a chaotic time and they needed a way to give everybody a job, give everybody a designation, give everybody a way to pitch in and be classified. It was a very military system that Riesen used. It was called the V system for Vega, the V one through six. Each level had a different designation in terms of what it means and who’s in it. But then, like all systems that start out intended to be one way and often become something else, that happens. Over time you have the elites getting entrenched, taking control of more and more of the resources of the city, installing themselves as senators, as basically the fat cats of the city, everybody else below them getting further and further cemented into their V system or their V level and not being able to move about. So I think that’s one of the great conflicts in the season and in the series will be certainly in Vega, which is what is right and what’s wrong and what’s happening to the people and is it fair? I think Claire certainly represents a very different point of view than her father in terms of believing that it needs to change whereas he is very much fixed. He recognizes that it did get warped and it became distorted over time. He’s not really willing to get rid of it. But that was the thinking at the beginning. It was definitely created for survival and then over time just unfortunately turned into something else.”

Now that we know who Alex really is is he going to move up the caste system or is he going to hide since very few people know his true identity?

Vaun: “From my point of view, he’s got bigger fish to fry because of what landed on his shoulders. But as we clearly see in the pilot, he does not like the system. He hates it. He wants to escape it. Who knows? Down the line we’ll get to see if he does anything about that as part of his journey and that’s just something that we’ll learn as we go. But I’m sure Chris can speak about that from a character point too.”

Chris: “I think it comes down to that saying, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ I think we’re going to see that struggle, that constant struggle with himself and with his relationships around him. By the end you’re really going to be left with what’s going to happen? Is he going to leave? Is he going to join? With the relationship with Michael, where does that leave us? He goes through stages and he makes sacrifices and it’s really about someone owning that calling on his life.”

Will the action primarily occur in Vega or will we be moving on to other cities as well?

Vaun: “In the first season we’re very much based in Vega. It was important to establish that world, establish all the characters, establish 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 important to orient the audience, I think, in the world of Dominion and then Vega so we didn’t overwhelm right up front. So that’s definitely was the focus for the first season.”

What are your personal beliefs when it comes to angels? How did your personal or religious beliefs play into this?

Chris: “Great question.”

Vaun: “That is a great question. It’s interesting. Two things. One is the show is very much nondenominational. 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 supernatural characters, as interesting as vampires and werewolves and ghosts or anything else that we use 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. The themes you’re interested in, the things that attract you to characters of the story but for me, those two things are separate.”

Chris: “It was a great answer, Vaun. I agree. I mean I have my own personal faith and I think there’s a greater good. I’ve always been very fascinated with that outer world. With Kings, we took a biblical story, we made it modern-day. Now we’re taking angels that are in the bible and we’re putting them into this world. Mythology interests me and I want to know these guys, I want to discover their world. This story resonates with me and 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.”

How do you sell people on the series if they didn’t love the movie?

Vaun: “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. I don’t know what Chris thinks but I think that’s the best way. Dominion really is its own thing. I think people will embrace it.”

Chris: “Yes, everything Vaun just said. This is a hero’s journey, this is a hero’s story, this is Alex, this is his discovery of himself. 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, being 25 years in the future.”

Vaun: “One quick thing. I saw this on some comments board. Buffy [the Vampire Slayer] was a movie that some fans loved, some fans didn’t. 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.”

David Peterson created a language for Dominion. How much will we hear this language in the series?

Vaun: “David Peterson is an absolute genius and the stuff that he creates is just incredible. He created a language called Lishepus for the angels and we feature it here and there depending on where it’s the most dramatic and the best used. But it definitely is going to be in the series. We try not to have it be used in an entire scene where you’ve got giant blocks of dialogue. But we definitely utilize it and when we do it sounds cool. David is amazing.”

Photo Credit: Gavin Bond/Syfy
Photo Credit: Gavin Bond/Syfy

The costumes are cool. What’s it like to wear those clothes?

Chris: “That blue man outfit, that soldier outfit I wear, it’s a great costume and you just feel like a kid again playing dress up. But they just keep adding so much to it. Now I’ve got a knife and I’ve got something else and I’m waiting for maybe some grenades. I mean it’s a lot of gear to put on but it’s a great outfit. I’m often doing push ups maybe before scenes just to get warmed up and to loosen myself. They’re adding so much stuff, it’s just getting heavier and heavier. I’m waiting for the second season, I’ve got a full camping gear on my back. No, it’s great. We’ve got a great costume designer. Neil was just fantastic and I know the girls too were really happy with their dresses and he’s just done a fantastic job.”

Can you talk about some of the special effects that are used and the stunts in the show?

Vaun: “We have a really great VFX vendor, Spin. They’re located in Toronto. They do special effects for Game of Thrones and some high-end movies. They’re just really, really talented people. We had someone who was on the pilot with us the entire time from Spin and the same within the series. I think the special effects, the angel’s wings, the flying, the fighting, all of the stuff we’ve got going, the cityscapes of Vega, I think people are going to be really surprised by the quality of the special effects on Dominion. In terms of the stunts, we have a really great stunt team down in Cape Town and in terms of the action- I mean Chris can speak to training with them because he did a lot of training in terms of preparation for his action sequences. They’re really just top-notch stunt people. Don’t you think, Chris?”

Chris:
“Yes, these guys were great. It was a great stunt team and the training was full on. I mean, I think before we started the series they just wanted to test our agility and endurance and made us run around 20 blocks just to see how our bodies worked. I don’t have wings in it but watching Tom fly off on those wires in those scenes it’s just fantastic. I’m just hoping Vaun can write something where I’m attached to a wire and I get to fly around like that. It’s great. Being good with a gun, being good with a sword- these guys understood the importance of it, so there’s a lot of sword training, a lot of firearms training. We really wanted to keep it tight.”

Vaun: “Wait until you see [the effects] when it’s all done. I saw it at the mix and I was really impressed.”

For Vega is there a lot of green screen or did you have sets built?

Vaun: “We actually used a mix of both, but we did build a lot. That was one of the advantages of going to Cape Town. The level of crew was really high in terms of their talent and experience, but also in terms of what we could build, how far our dollars went. Scott Stewart, who was a director of the pilot, was one of the founders of a special effects house called the Orphanage. So he’s a real genius at special effects and he’s just a really talented guy. He used to always say to me, ‘Real is better.’ Whenever you can point your camera at something real is better. So we built a lot of sets but we also had Spin working for us and they could create unbelievable vistas and landscapes and buildings so we did a lot of that as well. Then wherever there’s angels flying sometimes, we do something more practical with the wires or we use green screen and those as well.”

What do you think about being part of this trend of movie-to-TV series adaptations like About a Boy and Fargo?

Vaun: “I think that networks and studios are looking to pre-brand a TV show or anything that they’re doing right up front. They want to get that built-in awareness and that built-in recognition from the audience. So it kind of eases its way into the marketplace. It starts from a base. Certainly Fargo is a perfect example of doing that. I mean the show has a beautiful symmetry between the look of the movie and the look of the show. I think it all comes down to storytelling. For me it wasn’t that we had to do Legion as a TV show. It was something in Legion that attracted me to it and then all the other people that have worked on it and that kernel that I spoke about earlier was there that just seemed right for a TV show. So that was the jumping off point and that’s how we did it. I haven’t seen About a Boy but sometimes you use a little bit of it and it is a jumping off point like ours or sometimes it really is a continuation of the movie. So it’s good to have underlying material I think. They feel like they’re hedging their bets if they do that.”

What, if any, similarities do you see between this series and Kings?

Chris: “Thanks for bringing up Kings. I loved Kings, it was a fantastic series. [It had] that same thing, boy becoming a man, that burden that’s been put on his shoulders to carry the fate of mankind that’s resting on his shoulders. Is he going to run from it or is he going to follow his destiny? I’m really attracted to that sort of story. Both of those stories just- I’ve loved it. It just feels very, very Kings for me and it’s got a similar theme.”

What have you learned since you started filming this show?

Vaun: “Wow, so much. Just putting words in people’s mouths and hearing how they sound live and hearing how specific characters and actors bring very intricate and distinct styles and humanity to each character, that’s one of the most interesting things that I’ve learned about how to calibrate that. Also, just the realities of filming a show and how fast we move. It takes your breath away. The speed with which everybody’s working on these TV shows, it’s an endurance run and you really realize quickly what works, what doesn’t work, what can you film, what can’t you, what is affordable, what is just something that we would love to do but we can’t because it’s not practical since we can’t find the location for it. It was a total immersion in the reality of making TV, all the millions of little choices you make on a daily basis to make it happen. But as I said earlier, the learning curve has been wonderful. It’s been an amazing experience.”

Chris: “I think we’ve all, as a cast, come away learning about ourselves and our character. We just couldn’t wait to read the next episode. It was the writing and from the pilot it just gets so crazy. I think we were all so invested in it, as a cast we were just so in love with the writing. But it was some crazy hours and some long days because the material was so good and the writing’s fantastic. The scenes that we got to do together, we really took something from it and I think we all felt uplifted and encouraged. It was an amazing experience.”

How far in advance did you know what was going to happen for your characters?

Chris: “We had a lot of changes that were happening. We usually get about a week with an episode so it was very much like sneaking into the makeup trailer or the AV trailer because you know someone’s got the next episode. You want to read it and they’re not releasing it yet. Even getting to episode, the very end episode and the real finale – I want to know what happens next. It really leaves the audience with a lot of questions and a lot of where are we going to go next. I just can’t wait.”

Vaun: “Full disclosure, Chris was the actor with the stickiest fingers of all. He’d be sneaking around, getting those new drafts before anybody else.”

It sounds like a lot of planning went into this series. What’s ahead and how much do you have planned out for this season and beyond?

Vaun: “When I wrote the pilot I spent about six weeks working on a series document that broke down the first three seasons in detail and then another three seasons after that in more macro. One of the main spines through the series is Alex’s journey and the stages that he goes through each season. I’ve got loads of ideas, loads. We have all kinds of stories to tell for many seasons for Dominion.”

Edited for space and content.

Dominion premieres Thursday, June 19th at 9/8c on Syfy.

VIDEO

Preview:

PHOTOS

All photos credited to Ilze Kitshoff/Syfy.

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