This interview was originally published on March 11, 2024. 

The world after the apocalypse is gleefully weird and outrageously violent. If you’re an avid player of the Fallout video games, you know this. Now, Amazon is taking a stab at adapting the beloved franchise for the small screen. 

Recently, I had the privilege of watching a virtual press conference with the cast and crew of Prime Video’s Fallout adaptation, courtesy of Amazon. Participating talent included executive producer Jonathan Nolan (WestworldThe Peripheral), who also helmed three episodes; showrunners/writers Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Graham Wagner; director/executive producer of Bethesda Game Studios Todd Howard and stars Ella Purnell (Lucy), Aaron Moten (Maximus) and (briefly) Walton Goggins (The Ghoul). 

Check out what the conference participants had to say about the highly anticipated sci-fi series. 

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This press conference is edited for length and clarity. 

The Origins 

Firstly, the crew dove into what drew them to Fallout and how they adapted the popular video game franchise for the small screen. 

Jonathan Nolan: It started with Fallout 3, which devoured a year of my life. At that point, I was an aspiring young writer. It’s so ludicrously playable and fun. 

It’s such a rare and unbelievable thing—and I’ve done it twice in my career—to take something you love and get a chance to play in that universe. The first go-round for me was Batman, and this time, with Fallout. Todd [Howard] and I had lunch together about five years ago. We started talking about the possibilities of how you could [adapt] this incredible universe.

Lucy smiles as Overseer Hank looks over her shoulder in Prime Video's Fallout adaptation.

(L-R) Ella Purnell (Lucy) and Kyle MacLachlan (Overseer Hank) in “Fallout” Courtesy of Prime Video

Graham Wagner: It’s set in the world of Fallout, but it’s a new story after the events we’ve seen. The show is built on 25 years of creativity, thinking and building. We thought the best thing to do was continue that versus retreading it. Because that’s has worked with Fallout over the years. It’s traded hands, it’s changed, it’s been altered and it’s a living thing. 

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Geneva Robertson-Dworet: The themes of Fallout also drove us to want to adapt this with Jonah (Jonathan Nolan). We were 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 US and New Zealand. We often talk about how those countries are celebrated as wonderful, peaceful utopias and “What if everyone was like there?” The reality is not everyone is like those countries. But 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? They would be the same.

So, we saw the vaults as basically a mirror to that. This idea 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?

What Made Todd Say “Yes”?

Todd Howard: From 2009 on, people approached us over a 10-year period after Fallout 3 came out to adapt it for film or television.

We took a very cautious approach, and Jonah was somebody I was such a fan of. When I first talked to Jonah … his approach, right from the get-go, was in sync with what I was thinking. 

It’s been a great collaboration. For someone like me and the team at Bethesda, it’s a real blessing to see what they’ve done with it.

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Hearing From the Cast 

Then, Ella Purnell, Aaron Moten and Walton Goggins (who wasn’t present for the press conference but submitted a pre-recorded message) delved into their characters. 

Maximus stands next to a Power Suit in Prime Video's Fallout adaptation.

Power Suit and Aaron Moten (Maximus) in “Fallout” Credit: JoJo Whilden

Ella Purnell: Lucy is a Vault Dweller. What excited me about playing her was that she is so innocent, naive and privileged. 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 she has in the vault. Then, you put her in the Wasteland. What happens with that? 

Aaron Moten: I play Maximus. He’s part of the Brotherhood of Steel. What excited me was a bit of what Ella’s talking about — that starting place and where you go from there. A person who’s lived in the Wasteland for his entire life and has a certain type of moral ambiguity forced upon him, living in the world he lives in, and where you go from there. How do you hold onto what your unique, pure self is? How does that change, and how do you discover what you want?

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Walton Goggins: I play The Ghoul in Fallout. In some ways, The Ghoul is the poet Virgil in Dante’s Inferno. He’s the guide through this irradiated hellscape we find ourselves in in this post-apocalyptic world. The Ghoul is an iconic bounty hunter. He is pragmatic and ruthless and has his own set of moral codes. He has a wicked sense of humor. Much like me. He’s a very complicated guy. To understand him, you must understand the person he was before the war. His name was Cooper Howard, and he was vastly different than The Ghoul you’ve seen.

Throughout the show, his experience before the nuclear fallout, you will understand how the world was. He is the bridge between these worlds. 

What Stands Out as True to the Games?

TH: The authenticity they brought to it — “the obsessive.” We like to say we make the games that [make us] obsess over every pixel. Jonah and crew obsessed over every pixel of every frame just to make it authentic. The trick with Fallout is it has so many different tones. It goes between the serious, the dramatic, [the] action and some humor, with nostalgic music. 

The show weaves those different things together in a very unique blend that only Fallout can bring. They’ve done an awesome job.

The Ghoul smiles while wearing cowboy garb in a close-up from Prime Video's Fallout adaptation.

Walton Goggins (The Ghoul) in “Fallout” Courtesy of Prime Video

What Did the Crew Want to Nail?

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

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GW: This is a small thing. Chet (Dave Register) gets splattered in blood. They got the Brylcreem just right. I know that’s not as ambitious, but when they got the Brylcreem in his hair just right, I was like, “Nailed it.” I guess we could have done that on a smaller show. 

GRD: We couldn’t be more grateful to our incredible production designer, Howard Cummings, who poured his whole soul into this. Arriving on set every day was like Christmas morning. This is something Jonah has brought to all of his projects—this incredible eye for meticulous detail. Every detail has to be perfect. So much of it, we made physically. It’s not the effects. I was grateful for that. 

What Is Fallout About? What Sets It Apart in the Streaming World? 

GRD: It’s not just the incredible tone [but] this unbelievable blend of action, comedy and weirdness. These incredibly prescient themes, [with] factionalism the most obvious. When you play Fallout, you go from settlement to settlement or faction to faction. That was something we were excited to manifest with our heroes. 

GW: For me, it was the Brylcreem.

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JN: You also have the moment we’re in right now, in which the world seems to be ever more frightening and dour. [It was] an opportunity for us to work on a show that looks that in the eye and talks about the end of the world but does it with a sense of humor. There’s a thread of optimism woven into the show as well. 

GRD: Over the years, we’ve discussed many different post-apocalyptic projects we could do together, but this is the first one that was also fun.

Lucy stands outside as the sun sets, surveying a salvage yard in Prime Video's Fallout adaptation.

Ella Purnell (Lucy) in “Fallout” Courtesy of Prime Video

The Challenges of Playing Lucy and Maximus

AM: Every day on set was a new, fun challenge. It’s super exciting for an actor to show up to work and do outrageous things. We spend a lot of time doing things that are normal or have a mundanity to them.

So, trudging around the Wasteland with the power armor by my side is an experience in itself. Seeing our stunt performer, Adam [Shippey], in full garb and the seas of people and crew on set—that practical realness is exciting. 

EP: Exactly what Aaron said. It was so much fun working on this show. Every shoot is hard. Not every shoot is fun. No two days were the same. Every prop, costume, location and set was bonkers. One of the joys of working with Jonah is that he loves to do everything as much as he can for real. 

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You’re not working with that much green screen or dudes in green leotards. You get to work with practicals. So, you don’t have to imagine so much. It’s real, and you can really do it. [I was like] a kid in a candy store. 

How Do You Please Longtime Fans and Bring in New Audiences? Also, Why LA?

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

Thank you, Amazon, for the opportunity to attend this virtual press conference!

Fallout drops all eight episodes on Thursday, April 11, 2024, only on Prime Video

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Melody McCune
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