Last Light Interview: Dennie Gordon on Child Actors and Legion

ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke with Last light director Dennie Gordon to adapt the thriller novel into a limited series. Gordon discussed working with young actor Taylor Fay and what it was like working on the Marvel series Legion.

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“In the series, petrochemist 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 his worst fears are coming true and his family is separated at this defining moment. His teenage daughter, Laura, is home alone in London, while his wife, Elena, and young son, Sam, are in Paris. In the midst of this chaos, each family member will sacrifice everything to find each other despite the distance and the dangers that separate them.”

Spencer Legacy: What was it about the Last Light novel that really appealed to you?

Danny Gordon: I just thought it was so insightful. When something is in the zeitgeist and you feel like this is a story that needs to be told now, today, it just spoke to me. It’s a theme that we all care a lot about and we wanted to hurry and get the story out. It checked all the boxes for me. It was exciting, it had a huge heart, it had the potential for huge action, which I love to do. It was for me the chance to run 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 moment Matthew Fox said yes, we were off.

There are many 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 sight and then the light slowly went out for him. He slowly stepped into the darkness, and that thematically was so important to the show. Finding Taylor was incredibly difficult, [and]such a tall order: an actor who could play blind, an actor who could speak very decent English – he’s from Manchester. So it was not his natural dialect that he performed. I just love that he was a natural child. He had such a huge heart. I met a lot 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 courageous way. There were some scenes where he was so in the moment… he was just so present. Sometimes I’d 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] excited to introduce him. He will work a lot if he wants to. He might rather be playing football, but he’s a wonderful actor.

You have 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 pretty wonderful to be able to tell a story that’s 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, which is really important. I just love the limited series form and the ability to hopefully not overstay our welcome and tell the story in a way that leaves the audience wanting more.

I am very curious about your work with Legion. It’s such a unique show. How was directing an episode of it 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 trip to get into the mind of Noah Hawley. It was really fun to do something so different. We were doing all these crazy genre things. We made black and white silent films. From a visual effects standpoint, it was just non-stop. It was packed. It was really a great experience. I love the way the episode turned out.

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