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Fallout Director Jonathan Nolan and Co-Creator Graham Wagner on the Prime Video Series


Fallout Director Jonathan Nolan and Co-Creator Graham Wagner on the Prime Video Series


Is the 1970s video game Pong the inspiration behind such epic hits like Oppenheimer, Tenet, Westworld, and now, Fallout? Stay with us here, and picture the scene: Filmmaker brothers Christopher Nolan (Oppenheimer, Tenet) and Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises, Westworld) as kids playing Pong from a video console plugged into their television set. God knows it must have triggered something. Flashforward to the late 2000s, and brother Jonathan becomes a major fan of the Fallout 3 video game, right around the time he was supposed to write The Dark Knight Rises for his director brother. The creative balls were set in motion.




The result may very well be Fallout, Prime Video’s highly anticipated live-action version of the massively popular video game. Jonathan Nolan is executive producer and director (of the first three episodes) of the slick, action-packed post-apocalyptic drama starring Ella Purnell (Yellowjackets), Aaron Moten (Emancipation), Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks), and Walton Goggins (Justified) as The Ghoul. By his own admission, Nolan is blown away by the evolution of video games.


“Chris was talking the other day… about the fact that movies are really only about 100 years old as a storytelling medium, which is f***ing wild to me that my career now spans a quarter of that medium,” Jonathan Nolan told MovieWeb in an exclusive interview. “But with video games, if you’re our age, you’ve seen the whole thing right from the very beginning.

“It’s like, how crazy would it be to have experienced the entire lifespan of the novel, right?” he added. “But here we get this incredible privilege to be able to watch this art form develop [into] something so rich and sophisticated. It’s kind of amazing.” That it is. And so is Fallout. Jonathan Nolan and series co-creator Graham Wagner (The Office, Silicon Valley) share their take on video games and the rise of their twisted-and-fun new series. Read on. Watch the video above.



Unpacking the Power of Video Games and Fallout

Fallout

Fallout

4/5

Release Date
April 10, 2024

Seasons
1

Studio
Amazon Studios, Kilter Films, Bethesda Game Studios

Read Our Review

Along with co-creator Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Captain Marvel), Wagner and Nolan set out to create a vibrant new series that remained faithful to the source material—from its offbeat vibe and quirky post-apocalyptic characters to its sense of epic adventure. When asked what he’s most proud of about Fallout, Nolan said:

“I’m probably most proud of… hopefully, our ability to take one of the hallmarks of the games, which are these unique, beautiful, explorable environments. I mean, that was one of the things about watching video games grow up. I remember… think it was OutRun, the driving game… and I remember there were mountains in the distance, right? And it’s a terrific game, but you could never get to the mountains, right? You always talk to yourself, like, ‘What’s over that horizon? I’m loving this game, but I just want to get to those mountains.
Fallout is
a game where, if you can see it, you can get there. And it’s one of those.”


“I had rolled into one of those games fairly early on where you get to the top of a tall building, and you can kind of see the entire environment,” he added. “So, the huge challenge for us, but one of the things I was proudest of, was here are these games in which you have these epic vistas—this vision of a world that’s been completely transformed, then all the way down to every object that you can pick up [and] read the journals that people have left behind—the comic books, from the sublime to the particular. Every detail of this world is explorable. So, to give the audience that feeling of a universe in which you can simultaneously feel the grandeur of it, but also the detail of it, was something that I’d happily take credit for.”

Capturing the Vast Scope of Fallout


Nolan is quick to point out the talented crew, many of which were gaming fans, particularly production designer Howard Cummings, whose hard work added richness and detail to the eight-episode first season.

“We knew that one of the only things that we could really offer here when you’re taking away so much variability from the games… we knew we could add reality,” Nolan said. “So, we packed a bag, we dragged ourselves down to the Skeleton Coast in Namibia, out to the western salt flats of Utah, dragged our cast and crew with us, and just did our large-format filmmaking.”

Wagner and Robertson-Dworet streamlined Fallout’s narrative so that the story revolved around three individuals navigating the complexities of the irradiated new world from above and below ground—fallout shelter dweller Lucy (Purnell), military gofer Maximus (Moten), and mutated outlaw, The Ghoul (Goggins).


4:39

Related

Fallout’s Walton Goggins Unpacks The Ghoul and The White Lotus Season 3

The Justified star also shares a bizarre onset mishap that sent him to the doctor and teases checking into Season 3 of The White Lotus.

On that note, Graham Wagner told us, “We wrote The Ghoul with Walton in mind—that was also an ambitious move. The entire time, we were just sort of asking ourselves, ‘Well, what’s a show I’d watch?’ You know, it’s a very basic exercise of making television versus television I’d watch, which is like 5 percent of it… the idea of Walton Goggins as a deranged old cowboy wandering the wasteland was a pretty appealing starting point. You just want to make the job exciting to show up to every day. The fact that he said yes was the second thing that was very surprising, and we’re very stoked about that, obviously.”

When asked about framing the series around three characters, he added: “We talked a lot about [how] The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly did the same thing, which is… you could access the Wild Wild West through three very different characters.”


Graham Wagner on The Office Reboot

Graham Wagner became part of the creative team of The Office during the latter half of the hit series, which ran for nine seasons on NBC, bowing in 2013. When asked about his thoughts on the recent developments of a possible reboot of The Officeheadliner Steve Carell reportedly tossed around the idea of a movie instead of a new TV series, but nothing has been made official—Wagner shared that he was:

“Happy, sad, I don’t know. Yes, I’m happy for the sake of television. I mean, I was there only on the last season. I felt like I arrived in the part for the Vietnam War where they were pushing the helicopters off the planes. So, it’s not really something I had an ownership over at all. But I’m excited. I hope those guys bring half-hour comedies back. That would be great.”


Jonathan Nolan Packs It All Into Fallout

Meanwhile, EP/director Jonathan Nolan takes us back to how Fallout 3 became such a guilty pleasure for him in the late 2000s, paving the way for the slick sci-fi dystopian drama that just landed on Prime Video. He shared:

“I used to love taking a bit of a brain cleanse in between projects. And the late 2000s was a moment in which I started to feel as a filmmaker, that when people would ask me, ‘What was your favorite movie of the year? What was your favorite show of the year?’ As often as not, my answer would be a game. Gaming really started to take, and it’s crazy for me to watch the entire evolution of an art form, you know, from my life…starting with Pong all the way up to something as sophisticated and elaborate as
Fallout.


But in any given year, he went on to say, video games became “more subversive, more interesting, more surprising.” That was his experience with Fallout 3. “I just needed a brain cleanse in between projects,” he added. “We’ve been working pretty steadily. And I just got sucked in by the incredibly expansive, immersive world of the game, but also, the tone of it is so weird. It’s so unique. It’s dark, it’s violent, it’s funny, it’s goofy, it’s political, satirical, subversive. It’s all the things that I like in one package. And that doesn’t usually work, right?”

He continued, discussing the exploration of Fallout, “It’s not usually all things to all people, but for me, in these games, especially with the degree to which you can explore them, you really could pack all these wonderful things in there. So, we’ve tried to in this series.” That they did. Catch Fallout, now streaming on Prime Video.


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