Wondercon 2018: Interview with Legion Composer Jeff Russo

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The first episode of FX’s second season of Legion has premiered, marked by incredible visuals, brilliant writing, and music. Music forms a key component of the show’s aesthetic, its backbone, and especially its world. Legion’s executive producer and showrunner Noah Hawley and composer Jeff Russo are both musicians and people who understand the importance of music bringing the world together. It’s something important to remember in the wake of that incredible number from the second season’s premiere.

The Marvel Report spoke to Russo about this work on the Legion season 2 and music in general. The composer is incredibly also works on Star Trek: Discovery and we discussed the nature of composing such polar opposite shows, bringing worlds together, and the nature of collaboration.

TMR: Can you pick a favorite cohesive experience between two of the shows that you’ve talked about today?

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Jeff Russo: One of the things music can do is glue a show  together. It’s a story of a piece, of a narrative. With Legion, a show which is batsh*t crazy, we tried to glue it all together. The idea with the score was, so we have a show with this character who has no idea if the world he exists in is real. Was Lenny real? I don’t know if that question has been answered yet. Was his experience at Clockworks real, was his childhood real? You never know. The idea was, “Let’s invite the audience to feel the same thing.” I never wanted to play music that made you feel weird. It was about trying to play it straight. Weird, but straight. There’s no hallucination sound, no reality sound.

Let’s play the emotions, the interconnectivity between the characters. Characters are the thing that keep a story going. I can glue them all together by playing what the character feels on screen and not what the character is doing on screen.

TMR: How do you approach working on such a crazy show?

JR: [Compared to Star Trek: Discovery] I have to work with blinders on. We were breaking new ground with Legion, we’re not really like the comic…There’s nothing in the Marvel Universe like it after all.

TMR: One of the things that Siddhartha Khosla (composer of Marvel’s Runaways) talked about was collaborating with actors on set. On Power you have a producer who’s a musician. Do you want to collaborate with anyone behind the camera? Is it easy for you?

JR: Collaboration is all I’ve ever known. Being in a room writing horn lines for Star Trek: Discovery is really unusual to me.  Showrunner Noah Hawley and I collaborated with this upcoming season of Legion. My collaboration with Noah has been one of the highlights of my career.

Clearly the collaboration is paying off. If you haven’t caught up on the beginning of Legion season 2 watch the clip above to see what you are missing out on. It features David Haller’s (Dan Stevens) dance battle marked with Russo and Hawley’s characteristic out of the box style. The show continues to challenge viewers perceptions of what is real and what isn’t in an amazingly stylish visual medium.

Be sure to catch Legion on FX Tuesdays at 10 pm.

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