Legion Season 3: Navid Negahban on The End of Shadow King

We break down the Legion season 3 ending (or is it the beginning?) with Shadow King actor Navid Negahban.

The following contains spoilers for the Legion season 3 finale.

In the end, Legion died as it lived: by being totally trippy.

Still, despite the presence of time travel, time gods, and timeline altering circumstances, this Legion season 3 finale (and series finale at that) was a bit more straightforward than most probably would have expected.

All David Haller wanted to do was go back in time and fix things. Easier said than done, sure, but you’ll find that most time-centric wishes are easier to accomplish when you have a Time Lord (or Lady in this case) on your side. After poor Switch perished from the temporal pressure David forced her into, she ascended to sit at the right hand of her father and serve as a sort of time cop. Before officially accepting the position, however, Switch decided to make David’s grand dream come true.

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David gets to go back to being baby David again and get a second chance at life where he hopefully won’t become a murderous, egomaniacal monster. Not only that, but everyone else gets to go back in time for a second chance, including Syd, the Summerland team, and even David’s one-time mortal enemy: Amahl Farouk a.k.a. The Shadow King.

We spoke with Shadow King actor Navid Negahban about what he thinks Farouk would do with his second chance and what it was like to be apart of a franchise that melded X-Men, Noah Hawley’s unique storytelling sensibilities, and time monsters.

The following has been edited and condensed for clarity.

DEN OF GEEK: When we spoke back in the winter, one of the things you said about Amahl Farouk was: “I think you might discover what made him to end up being the hero that you think he is. You’ll discover a little bit more about his journey and who he is.” So with that in mind, now that we’re at the end here, what parts of his journey were you referring to?

NAVID NEGAHBAN: Seeing the result of his younger self’s actions. When you get to see your future, you realize the mistakes that you have made and now you’re getting a chance to redo them. You have an opportunity to make better choices. You change – change your mind, correct your mistakes.

What was it like kind of dealing with the time travel aspect this year and incorporating it into your performance?

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Even when I was reading the script I had to go back and look at it again before filming. Okay, what has happened, what are we doing right now and how’s it going? That was when the formula presented itself and I was able to decipher the plot. You just go along with it. 

We also presented younger Amahl, in some snippets here and there. That was a beautiful, amazing challenge for me because we didn’t want to use any kind of make-up (to differentiate between the two) and we just wanted to show the behavior of the person, especially because Amahl has been around for a very long time. Time has no effect on him. So we just had to figure out how to manipulate the behavior of the character in order to show that growth and Amahl Farouk’s inner self.

One of the things that makes it interesting as well is that both the Farouks, young and old, are existing simultaneously in the finale. What is it like to act alongside yourself?

It was a pain in the ass acting with myself. Both actors were very selfish! (laughs) That was actually the most technical aspect of it. It was amazing because we had to find the eye-line then we had to have another actor who is going through the same motions. But it ended up not 100 percent working so I had to lock my eye-line then play both characters back and forth. I had to literally run back and forth couple of times in order to get the placement to figure out where the other me is and then we would shoot it. So every time that we were shooting I would jump back and forth to play both roles.

What was it like acting in that scene with Harry Lloyd? Particularly with him playing such an iconic character in Charles Xavier

It was fun! Harry is an amazing actor. It was so wonderful. We had fun shooting the scenes. He is a hundred percent there. He is a giver so it’s very easy. And he was very patient, especially because he knew that I’m going back and forth on these two different mindsets and he was very giving and generous. It was so great having a scene with the professor.

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As is often the case in Legion, I’m not sure I always like fully understand what’s going on. But it seems to me that the ending means everybody gets a restart. Not just David and Syd, right?

Yes. Everybody has a restart. (Amahl Farouk) gets a second chance and gets a lesson in life on how not to be. That is the moment where the older Amahl gives the glasses to the younger Amahl and shows him all the pain he will cause if he doesn’t change his behavior. That’s an important moment in Amahl’s journey. He is now teaching his younger self how not to be. 

What do you think Amahl Farouk would do with his second chance?

I think that he may be using his abilities to make the world a better place. I don’t know. If you’re asking me as the actor, I’m not sure. But if you’re asking me as Amahl what Amahl would do, I would have freed the king, I would have freed all those slaves and made the world a better place there. I would try to be a guiding light as Amahl.

So much of pop culture is dominated by superheroes and mutants. Would you want to act more in roles like this where you’re playing super human individuals?

I fell in love with this character. So yes if anothwe character grabbed me then why not? Do you have a character in mind?

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it’s kind of hard to top the Shadow King. That’s about as powerful as it gets right off the bat. It’s not like you can just go back to playing like, I don’t know, Hawkeye or whatever after that.

No, that’s it. That’s what I’m saying. If Amahl Farouk or the Shadow King keeps going and there is any other project that includes him yeah sure that would be fascinating. That would be amazing. Especially because this was the very first time that anybody has portrayed Amahl Farouk and the Shadow King. Being the face of Shadow King and then being able to incorporate all the languages that I knew into the character, I don’t know. If you find any other characters that’s more interesting than Shadow King let me know.

What’s your favorite moment from playing the Shadow King for the past two years?

One of the most beautiful moments was when I held baby David in my arms. And that baby was amazing. It was a moment that we could create and it was perfect the way that the baby was drawn to me and the way we interacted with each other. 

further reading: Legion Comics Reading Order

There were so many other good moments as well. I had fun with Aubrey when we were in the desert together and she was practicing how to speak Farsi. She was stubborn and she said, “ No, if you are in my head and if you speak Farsi, I should be able to speak Farsi, so teach me something.” That was an amazing moment.

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Also that scene that I had with David at the pool and the conversation that we had. Part of that what Shadow King was talking about was so close to my journey. I grew up during the war. I was a refugee in Germany. Noah wrote that speech after talking with me about my journey. So that was very close to my heart.

Did you expect the ending at all? And did you like it once you found out how it was going to end? 

I loved it. It was fascinating. Show me one person who doesn’t want to get a second chance. To me that’s the message. It’s all about getting a second chance. The other thing that I’ve got from it is that sometimes we are so busy in our everyday lives that we are not really paying attention to our kids; we’re not really paying attention to the next generation.

So let’s make a better future. I mean, that is the message if you watched the whole series. And all the seasons when looked at – all these underlying messages: how to be more true to yourself, how to be more true to each other, how to help each other and how to care for the person next to you. That is just very interesting. I don’t know, maybe I’m just talking too much. I’m just a dreamer, I’m just a crazy dreamer. In my world everybody is smiling everyone is having fun.

I mean, I think dreaming like that is in keeping with the Legion‘s themes and aesthetics.

My dad used to tell me, “You cannot change the world.” I said, “Dad, I don’t want to change the world. I want to change myself.” If they want to join me, they’re more than welcome.

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Alec Bojalad is TV Editor at Den of Geek and TCA member. Read more of his stuff here. Follow him at his creatively-named Twitter handle @alecbojalad