In TNT’s thrilling new spy drama Legends, premiering Wednesday August 13, Martin Odum knows everything but the truth. He’s the FBI’s best Deep Cover Operations (DCO) agent, and has an uncanny ability to create separate and believable mannerisms, dialects and complex backstories, called legends, for each job. He can transform himself from a vengeful Southern anarchist, to a Serbian extremist, to a corrupt Chicago police officer, and actor Sean Bean, who plays Odum, is impressed by his character’s dedication. “Martin takes it very seriously, down to the details of what he eats, what he drinks, what he wears, women he might go out with. It’s all part of the job.” With this commitment to the ruse, and support from his team, Odum infiltrates and tries to stop groups who are bent on causing terror and mayhem. But when a mysterious stranger suggests that Odum isn’t the man he believes he is, he realizes that he’s so deeply immersed in fictional personas that he can no longer tell where the legends end and he begins.
Bean, best known for his roles in Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings, usually plays characters who exude power, masculinity and a gritty, roguish nature. As Odum, Bean plays a gruff antihero, but his legends can be a stark contrast. Some are polished, funny or quirky, and it’s a treat to see Bean so multifaceted. “On occasion, I’ve had to switch accents and mannerisms mid-scene,” says the charming Englishman. “You have to change everything and it’s very effective when it works — when you’re actually seeing someone change character right in front of your eyes — rather than seeing a character in one scene, and a different character in another.”
Odum’s legends are diverse, each having been created for a particular situation or crisis and Bean’s favorite legend is a bit surprising because it comes as such a departure from the characters that Bean normally portrays. “There’s one called Sebastian Egan, He’s quite colorful, kind of a comic character,” says an unusually mirthful Bean. “He’s a quick-witted journalist who writes for a magazine called Joust, — an invented name, it’s kind of a good name, isn’t it? It’s kind of an avant garde, very thought-provoking magazine.
“He’s pretty flamboyant anyway, wearing colorful suits, pink shirts, handkerchiefs, a nice boater on his head. He’s very well spoken — Peter O’Toole is a character I was thinking of — or the guy who wrote Cat on a Hot Tin Roof [Tennessee Williams]. Sebastian Egan is very flamboyant and I think people will like him a lot. He’s quite jolly.”
The opportunity to become a chameleon and play a variety of characters is what drew Bean to Legends. “I’ve not really seen anything done like this — maybe on film — but I have not seen it done on television. Where an actor has played multiple roles as well as the role he’s playing … it’s quite unique.”
Joining Bean on the all-star cast are Ali Larter (Heroes) as a fellow operative, Morris Chestnut (American Horror Story, Nurse Jackie) as a DCO charmer, Tina Majorino (Grey’s Anatomy, Napoleon Dynamite) as the DCO’s tech newbie and Steve Harrie (The Practice, Awake) as the director of the DCO task force.
Legends comes from the producers of Homeland and 24 and is based on a spy novel by Robert Littell, so expect suspense, plot twists and a frenetic pace that will leave you breathless. Martin Odum may not quite know who he is, but Legends has a clear identity of an intriguing spy drama that is a must-watch for adrenaline junkies.
Legends > TNT > Wednesdays, beginning August 13 at 9pmET