‘Fallout’s Director Is Making the Series He Wants as a Game Fan

Mar 7, 2024

The Big Picture

‘Fallout’ is based on the video game series, set 200 years post-apocalypse, and focuses on societal divisions and survival tactics.
Showrunners Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Graham Wagner focused on creating a new story that fits within the ‘Fallout’ universe while addressing social commentary and emotional depth.
The adaptation maintains authenticity while weaving together different tones of action, drama, humor, and music to appeal to both fans and new audiences.

From executive producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, along with co-showrunners Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Graham Wagner, and based on the popular video game series, the eight-episode Prime Video series Fallout is set 200 years after the apocalypse in a world that still separates people by what they have, what they do not have, and what they’ll do to protect it or get it. When a vault dweller named Lucy (Ella Purnell) must venture out into the wasteland, she finds a world that is equal parts weird and violent and must quickly learn to navigate her way through.

After previewing the trailer for the series that will be available to stream on April 11th, Nolan, Roberston-Dworet, Wagner and Bethesda Game Studios’ Todd Howard, along with Purnell, Aaron Moten (who plays Maximus, a member of the Brotherhood of Steel) and Walton Goggins (who plays The Ghoul, a mysterious bounty hunter with his own unique moral code), spoke at a press conference to give some insight about the upcoming video game adaptation. They talked about being fans of the game universe, the handshake deal that started this journey, the opportunity to create your own version while remaining authentic to the original material, the social commentary inherent in the story, doing as much of it practically as possible, the importance of blending the tone and themes in just the right way, and why it’s better to make yourself happy than to try to please the fans.

Fallout In a future, post-apocalyptic Los Angeles brought about by nuclear decimation, citizens must live in underground bunkers to protect themselves from radiation, mutants and bandits.Release Date April 11, 2024 Seasons 1 Streaming Service(s) Prime Video

‘Fallout’ Started With a Handshake Deal that Turned Into a New Story in the Popular Universe
Image via Prime Video

Question: Jonah, can you talk about the origin story of this series? How did you get here? What made you take on this incredible challenge of adapting this game to series?

JONATHAN NOLAN: It started for me with Fallout 3, which devoured about a year of my life. I was an aspiring young writer, at that point. It almost derailed my entire career. It’s so ludicrously playable and fun. Seriously, the games are just incredible. It’s such a rare thing and such an unbelievable thing, and I’ve gotten to do it twice in my career, to take something that you love and get a chance to play in that universe and to create your own version of that universe. The first go around for me was Batman and this time with Fallout, a series of games that I absolutely loved.

About five years ago, Todd [Howard] and I went and had lunch together, which was a bit of a fanning out moment for me, and just started talking about the possibilities of how you could take this incredible universe [and turn it into a TV series]. One of the things that’s so powerful about the Fallout series is that every game is a little different, with different characters, a different setting and a different look into this extraordinary universe. And so, we came out of that lunch with a handshake deal that we were gonna try to make this work.

Geneva and Graham, this series is not based on a specific game. We’re living in the world of Fallout. Can you talk about that approach?

GRAHAM WAGNER: It’s set in the world of Fallout, but it’s a new story that comes after the events we’ve seen. The show is built on 25 years of creativity and thinking and building, and we thought the best thing to do was to continue that versus retread it because that’s what has worked with Fallout over the years. It’s traded hands. It’s changed. It’s been altered. It’s a living thing. We felt like we ought to take a swing at trying to build a new piece on top of all of that.

GENEVA ROBERSTON-DWORET: What tied into the themes of Fallout is also what really drove us to want to adapt this with Jonah [Nolan]. We were really especially drawn to the social commentary inherent to the idea of these vaults. Graham is a citizen of Canada, I’m a dual citizen of the U.S. and New Zealand, and we often talk about how those are countries that are celebrated as these wonderful, peaceful utopias. And the reality is that not everywhere is like those countries. What would it mean if those countries were to open their borders and let everyone in and everyone could have a better life? They would change, right? We saw the vault as basically a mirror to that. What if we create a vault that is very peaceful and wonderful? But what does it mean that not everyone gets to live there, and people suffer on the surface?

Todd, what made you say yes to this adaptation? What do you love about this approach?

TODD HOWARD: Over a 10-year period after Fallout 3 came out, from 2009 on, people would approach us to adapt Fallout for film or television, and we took a very cautious approach. Jonah was somebody where I was such a fan of the movies he did and the TV he was doing, and I actually had someone reach out. When I first talked to Jonah, he felt like someone I had known for a long time. He had obviously played the games a ton, and his approach, right from the get-go, was in sync with what I was thinking. This is a creative endeavor, and having partners that you trust, that can really bring something new to it, and make it both authentic to the world of Fallout and present that for the screen in a new way, it’s been a great collaboration. It’s just a real blessing to see what they’ve done with it.

Related The ‘Fallout’ Series Will Be an Entirely New Story Within the Franchise What is Vault 33? Who are the series leads? Director and EP Jonathan Nolan and stars Ella Purnell and Aaron Moten discuss.

Ella and Aaron, what intrigued you most about Lucy and Maximus?

ELLA PURNELL: Lucy is a vault dweller. What excited me about playing her is that she is so innocent and so naïve, and obviously very privileged, as well. It was exciting for me to start in that place. She’s essentially a newborn baby. She hasn’t had any real-life experiences. All she knows is what she was taught and what she’s read in books that she has in the vault. It’s limited. And then, you put her on the wasteland, and what happens with that? That was a really exciting place for me to start.

AARON MOTEN: I play Maximus. He’s part of the Brotherhood of Steel. What excited me was that starting place and where you go from there. He’s a person who’s lived in the wasteland for his entire life, and he has to have a certain type of moral ambiguity that is forced upon him, living in the world that he lives in. It’s about where you go from there, how you hold onto what is your unique, pure self, how that changes, and how you discover what it is that you want.

Walton, what do you have to say about your character and his role in this world?

WALTON GOGGINS: I play the Ghoul in Fallout. The Ghoul is, in some ways, the poet Virgil in Dante’s Inferno. He’s the guide, if you will, through this irradiated hellscape, that we find ourselves in, in this post-apocalyptic world. He is an iconic bounty hunter. He is pragmatic. He is ruthless. He has his own set of moral codes. And he has a wicked sense of humor, much like me. He’s a very, very, very complicated guy, and to understand him, you have to understand the person that he was before the war. He had a name. His name was Cooper Howard, and he was a vastly different person than The Ghoul that you’ve seen so far. Over the course of the show, through his experience back in the world before the nuclear fallout, you will understand how the world was. He is the bridge between both these worlds.

Todd, what do you feel this series got completely right in its adaptation of the games?

HOWARD: The authenticity they brought to it. When we make the games, we like to say that we obsessed over every pixel. And Jonah and crew obsessed over every pixel of every frame, just to make it authentic. The trick with Fallout is that it has so many different tones. It goes between the serious, the dramatic, action, and some humor. There’s nostalgic music and dramatic music. What the show does really well is it weaves those different things together in a very unique blend that only Fallout can bring.

The ‘Fallout’ Creative Team Knew They Had to Nail the Series’ Tone

Geneva, Graham and Jonah, was there any one specific thing that you felt like you had to nail?

NOLAN: We talked a lot about the power armor and the tone. The tone was a big thing. I think the tone was maybe the most challenging and the most intimidating thing for me. Working with Geneva and Graham, we knew that we were gonna be in a really good place with that incredibly ambitious story on a technical level. The scope of the world and the power armor, in particular, was one of those things where you go, “How on earth are we gonna do that?” But we got there.

WAGNER: You can see it in the trailer, but when Chet gets splattered in blood, I saw that they got the Brylcreem just right. When they got the Brylcreem and his hair just right, I was like, “Nailed it!” I guess we could have done that on a smaller show, but that’s an important detail.

ROBERSTON-DWORET: We couldn’t be more grateful to our incredible production designer, Howard Cummings, who just poured his whole soul into this. Truly, arriving on set every day was like Christmas morning. Something that Jonah has brought to all his projects is just this incredible eye for meticulous detail. Every detail has to be perfect, and so much of it we made physically. It’s not vfx. I was really grateful for that.

How would you guys describe what Fallout is, especially for an audience that isn’t familiar with the property?

ROBERSTON-DWORET: It’s not just the incredible tone, with this unbelievable blend of action and comedy and just weirdness, but there are these incredibly prescient themes, with factionalism being maybe the most obvious. When you play the game Fallout, you go from settlement to settlement or from faction to faction, and that was something that we were really excited to manifest with our heroes – Ella being the vault dweller, Aaron being the Brotherhood of Steel member, and Walton being the character where nobody really cares about the ghouls in the wasteland, but in a way, that makes them the most empathetic.

WAGNER: For me, it was the Brylcreem.

NOLAN: You have a moment we’re in right now, in which the world seems to be ever more frightening and dour, and this is an opportunity for us to work on a show that gets to look that in the eye. We get to talk about the end of the world, but do it with a sense of humor. There’s a thread of optimism woven into the show, as well. For us, it’s a bit of an expiation to be able to work on this every day.

ROBERSTON-DWORET: We’ve talked about so many different post-apocalyptic projects that we could do together over the years, but this is the first one that was also fun.

Every Day on Set for the ‘Fallout’ Cast Brought New Challenges
Image via Prime Video

Ella and Aaron, as actors, you get to do a lot in this. What did you find fun in the challenge of this world?

MOTEN: Every day on set was a new, fun challenge. It’s super exciting, as an actor, to get the opportunity to show up to work and do outrageous things. We spend a lot of time doing things that are normal or mundane, and we spend a lot of time doing that at work. So, to get to trudge around the wasteland with the power armor by my side is an experience in itself. And getting to see our stunt performer in the full garb, and seeing the seas of people and crew on set as they part for him, that practical realness to it is really exciting.

PURNELL: It was so much fun working on this show. Every shoot is hard, not every shoot is fun. This one was just so fun for an actor. No two days were the same. Every prop, every costume, every location, every set was just bonkers. One of the joys of working with Jonah is that he loves to do everything, as much as he can, for real, so you’re not working with that much green screen or dudes in green leotards. You get to really work with practicals. You don’t have to imagine so much because it’s real, and you can really do it. It’s like being a kid in a candy store, honestly. It’s so much fun.

Related ‘Fallout’ Showrunner Says They’ve “Barely Scratched the Surface” With Season 1 Showrunner Graham Wagner says the team is taking it slow and steady bringing ‘Fallout’s craziness to television.

Jonah, video game adaptations are not new. How do you please the fans of the game while also bringing in new audiences?

NOLAN: I don’t think you really can set out to please the fans of anything, or please anyone other than yourself. I think you have to come into this trying to make the show that you wanna make and trusting that, as fans of the game, we would find the pieces that were essential to us with the games and try to do the best version of those that we can. It’s a fool’s errand to try to figure out how to make people happy in that way. You’ve gotta make yourself happy, and I’ve made myself very happy with the show.

All Season 1 episodes of Fallout will be available on Prime Video on April 11.

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Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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