Dan Stevens explains how he prepared to play a powerful mutant in FX's 'Legion'

Actor Dan Stevens stars in FX's comic book series "Legion."

Actor Dan Stevens stars in FX's comic book series "Legion."  (Copyright 2017, FX Networks. All rights reserved.)

Dan Stevens' Hollywood star is shining brightly lately.

The 34-year-old English actor, who first made his grand debut as doomed lawyer Matthew Crawley in the historical period drama “Downton Abbey,” is slowly making his mark as a supernatural hero. He just appeared as the Beast opposite Emma Watson in Disney’s live action blockbuster “Beauty and the Beast,” which has since waltzed past $700 million worldwide in box office sales.

But film isn’t the only thing Stevens is conquering these days. On television, he stars in the FX series “Legion” alongside Aubrey Plaza. The show is based on the Marvel comics. He plays David Haller, a mentally deranged man who discovers he’s actually a powerful mutant.

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“It’s been wonderful. David [in ‘Legion’] is absolutely a delicious role," Stevens told Fox News. "It really is the role of a lifetime from the start. I’m thrilled that we’re going to move forward with a new season next year.

"There’s something about the long form narrative with a character like this where you really get to go to quite some interesting places with some interesting people. It’s been a lot like home for the few months of this year and I’m really looking forward to getting started for next year.”

The season finale of “Legion” aired on Wednesday, and it has already garnered praised by critics for Stevens’ ability to capture the complexities of battling a mental illness. The DC Comics film “Suicide Squad,” on the other hand, received mixed reviews by some in 2016, claiming it exaggerated symptoms of real-life disorders.

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It’s no wonder Stevens took the challenge very seriously and made sure to do his homework.


“There were a number of different sources, I guess, that I took ideas from,” he explained. “I read on different mental [illnesses] and spoke with people who live with different mental conditions, specifically schizophrenia. I also spoke to a psychiatrist who treats the condition. I took inspiration from a lot of different places, really."

Stevens said he also took inspiration from the original comics.

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While David discovers he’s been misdiagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, he must still learn to control his telepathic powers, thanks to being the son of “X-Men” professor Charles Xavier. But according to Stevens, it’s only the beginning to really understanding his character’s quest for sanity.

“I think there are still many, many elements…waiting to be explored on David’s mental makeup…you feel like he’s got a grip on things, when actually he’s got a grip on one or two things, but the rest is very much up in the air,” said Stevens. “And there are a lot of things flying around up there. And I think one of the interesting narratives from this season was the idea of we are the stories that we tell ourselves.

"So, this idea that you’ve been told for years you’re schizophrenic, that really defined him for the majority of his life… I think there’s a lot of interesting elements still to play with. I don’t think he’s not on this concrete ground as it might seem at the end of this season.”

Season 2 of “Legion” returns in 2018. However, Stevens will stay busy this year starring opposite Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis in the sci-fi drama “Colossal.” He'll also appear in the romantic comedy "Permission" with Rebecca Hall and become iconic English writer Charles Dickens in “The Man Who Invented Christmas.”