How Did Jonathan Nolan Decide To Make Fallout Series About An Emsemble Instead Of A Single Protagonist; See Here

Nolan shared that one of the initial challenges with the series was its resemblance to a role-playing game.

Published on Jun 13, 2024  |  10:16 PM IST |  35.6K
Walton Goggins, Aaron Moten, and Ella Purnell in Fallout (PC: IMDB)

There is a list of difficulties that Jonathan Nolan faced when he was turning Bethesda’s incredibly popular Fallout video game into a show: one of the most significant ones is that the world is too vast, and the other one is the choice of actors.

Unlike other video games that have been adapted to live-action films, Fallout is a role-playing game where the player will make choices that will change the course of the film. To do this, Graham Wagner and Geneva Robertson-Dworet, the creators, and showrunners of the show used an ensemble cast. This decision ensures that every viewer can find a character on the screen that resembles them hence providing a picture of the experiences of the players of the game.

Jonathan Nolan: Adapting the game's role-playing spirit with an ensemble cast

When Jonathan Nolan was asked about the sort of actors he wanted for the Fallout characters and how they would fit into the world of the movie, he said this of the role-playing aspect of the game which was being adapted into the movie.

In the interview, one of the questions asked from Jonathan Nolan was about the future of show and its connection with the video game. Fallout contains a role-playing element where the player creates a character by themselves, which can either be similar to them, or completely different, and the process can take up to an hour. Nolan revealed that Lisa Joy, his partner in making the show come to life, was not acquainted with Fallout, so they played the game several times during the production of the show. He emphasized the joy of making characters but noted that there is no set hero in Fallout. The main characters are whoever the player wants them to be. As small as it may seem, this became an issue for the series as each player’s experience with the Fallout game is different; one could have created a character with qualities of a hero while someone else can choose their digital avatar to be an antagonist instead.


Thus, Nolan’s approach demonstrates the task of adapting the game that is based on the principles of a player being able to select the gender, occupation, and morality of his/her avatar, for a television show. The majority of the decision was to use an ensemble cast in order to cover as many people’s experiences and personalities as they take into the game, thus making sure that a lot of people would watch and like it for the true nature of the Fallout Universe show.

Jonathan Nolan's Fallout series embraces an ensemble cast to capture the game's spirit

The fallout series was confirmed in July with Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s Kilter Films and Bethesda Game Studios pencils. Nolan directed the first three episodes, with Todd Howard, the producer of the game at Bethesda Game Studios, who had directed several games in the series, coming in as the executive producer along with Nolan and Joy. The series showrunners were Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Graham Wagner in January 2022 and the casting of the series started in February with Walton Goggins and in March with Ella Purnell.


The much-anticipated new TV show was launched on Prime Video on April 10, 2024. Most of the reviewers and audience gave their stamp of approval with a positive reception. It was also said that the performances of Purnell, Moisés Arias, and Goggins were noteworthy, as well as the writing, visuals, production design, and the fact that for the most part, the series remained true to the comics. Some thought it was one of the best video game adaptations that have ever been made on screen. As a result, the series got a second season later that same month it had initially aired.

Nolan also stated that the process of translating the game’s specific element of role-playing into television drama was the most problematic. Thus, in Fallout, the characters are developed by the players which causes the differences in the game and quests. This aspect was perhaps the biggest hurdle in the adaptation because there isn’t one clear main character. Instead, the protagonist can be anyone, belonging to any of the factions, because of the choices that they make. To this end, the series shifted to an ensemble cast format that ensured that each of the characters would appeal to the various types of players in the video game. It was an effective way to maintain the essence of the show that corresponds to the theme of the Fallout series and interests the general public.


ALSO READ: Fallout Episode 7 And 8: Recap and Full Spoilers For Season Finale

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