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What you need to know about sci-fi epic Fallout

What you need to know about sci-fi epic Fallout

Get ready for Fallout, an epically ambitious new sci-fi series on Prime Video that’s as gripping and immersive as the classic video game it’s based on

By Chris Miller, Feature Writer

California, 2296. It’s 219 years since a nuclear apocalypse devastated the planet. For a small, privileged portion of the population who survived in luxury underground vaults, life is comfortable, orderly and mostly normal. For those who live on the irradiated surface, survival is a violent struggle in a lawless landscape with limited resources.


So when the vault-dwellers decide to leave their bunkers and find out what’s going on above ground, the stage is set for a conflict between the wildly different factions… This is Fallout, the new sci-fi series based on the bestselling, award-winning video game.


The eight episodes of the first season, streaming from Thursday 11 April on Apps > Prime Video, aim to capture the huge scope, twisted tone and unpredictable storytelling of the much-loved game series. With impressive talent behind the camera, smart casting and eye-boggling effects, it promises to be an experience every bit as immersive, captivating and downright weird as the game it’s based on.


Here’s what we know about Fallout the series.


Its sci-fi credentials are impeccable

Executive producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy were the creative force behind another dystopian sci-fi series, the Emmy-nominated Westworld; Nolan also co-wrote the screenplays for The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar, all directed by his brother Christopher. Fallout’s showrunners are Geneva Robertson-Dworet, co-writer of previous video game adaptation Tomb Raider as well as Captain Marvel, and Graham Wagner, a writer on coding-nerds-as-heroes comedy Silicon Valley.


Nolan, Robertson-Dworet and Wagner are all fans of the game – Nolan has joked that his addiction to Fallout 3 delayed the production of The Dark Knight Rises – and their enthusiasm got Todd Howard of Bethesda Game Studios, director/producer of numerous instalments of the game series, to sign on as an executive producer.


The show went the extra mile for an authentic look

Some of Fallout was filmed in New York studios but for realistically post-apocalyptic scenes, the production also shot at an abandoned mining town on the coast of Namibia. “I’ve never shot somewhere so remote, where literally the only things there are hyenas,” Nolan says. “It’s an incredibly beautiful and strange place.” Other scenes were shot on the country’s wild beaches and on a wrecked ship that took hours to reach by helicopter.


And while there’s inevitably CGI on screen, some of Fallout’s most impressive effects are practical, such as the town of Filly. “We employed a large and talented team of welders to create a steel structure that looked like it was all falling down, but built safely,” says production designer Howard Cummings. “Set decorator Regina Graves actually got all the real scrap metal we used – doors, windows, signs, jet fuselage and rubbish. Using the real deal really sold the look.”


There’s also a giant mutant salamander thing called a Gulper that’s all too real. “We wanted to build that practically,” Nolan says. “I brought something into the world that should be erased because it’s so disgusting, but I’m also perversely very proud of it.” 


The class struggle is future-dystopian but still real

“It’s a story of have and have-nots,” says Robertson-Dworet. “I’ve always really liked that the games are such an elegant metaphor for that.”


As one of the lucky few who survived in a comfortable vault (known as the “Vaulties”), Lucy (Ella Purnell) is wide-eyed and naïve when she ventures to the surface but she’s also plucky and capable. Some of those above ground, like Maximus (Aaron Moten), have set up militaristic communities based on strength and firepower. And then there are the Ghouls, irradiated humans whose lifespans have extended at the cost of horrifying physical decay.


With everyone reliant on the same limited resources, we see things from varying points of view, as each group realises the compromises required to ensure everyone’s continued survival. The Vaulties find that their cherished morality was a luxury that doesn’t apply universally; Maximus begins to discover that strength isn’t everything. It may be a hellish dystopian environment but the everyday trade-offs and adjustments are familiar to us all.


Walton Goggins is the secret weapon

He’s rarely the star, but character actor Walton Goggins has brought his smooth-talking charisma to roles in everything from crime dramas like The Shield and Justified to offbeat comedies Vice Principals and The Righteous Gemstones, as well as a string of films including Django Unchained, Ant-Man And The Wasp and Tomb Raider. Here he invests that swaggering charm into two characters: Cooper Howard, the before-times movie star advertising vaults to an exclusive clientele; and The Ghoul, one of the decaying mutants clinging to life, a ruthless monster relying on his wits to survive.


The extensive, painstakingly-applied prosthetic mask helped Goggins nail the character but the swagger and magnetism are the actor’s own. But he’s part of a terrific cast that met the challenges of this intense, inventive sci-fi series. Click on the actors in the image below to find out more…


When does Fallout start on Prime Video?

All eight episodes of Fallout will be streaming on Thursday 11 April in Apps > Prime Video).


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