Kurt Russell in Monarch as an older Lee Shaw

‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’ Gave Kurt Russell and Wyatt Russell a Chance to Do Something Interesting Together

The show Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is bringing us the casting of Kurt Russell and Wyatt Russell as the same character. It makes for an interesting twist to the use of a father/son acting duo in a project together and it’s fascinating to see the Russell boys in something like this together. Talking with the creative team behind the show at New York Comic-Con for the show at the press conference, it’s clear that they were just as excited for it too.

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When I said that while the monsters in the Godzilla universe are legendary in themselves, this cast is also important and, in the words of executive producer Matt Fraction “are also a different legendary.” Before agreeing that they’re all also obsessed with the casting of the Russells too. But I used that to ask how to bring in actors like Kurt and Wyatt Russell so that when you have these human characters, that help to draw in the audience and make us care for the bigger moments within the world of Godzilla, you still make the humans grounded and real in a way that are so very important against monsters like the ones in the Legendary catalog.

Showrunner and executive producer Chris Black spoke first, talking about how they knew that they had to focus on the human side of things. “I think we said early on that we couldn’t make a show that’s jumping up. It had to be a show about people that happen to live in a World War monster,” Black said. “So the focus was always on what’s the human story we want to tell. It’s about this family and a multi-generational family saga. And we were lucky enough to get Kurt and Wyatt to come in and play that character that spans generations and links those two stories together. But I don’t wanna make it sound like the monsters weren’t important because they are certainly an absolutely critical and fun part of what this world is, but if we couldn’t tell a story driven by these human characters that people wanted to watch the show would…”

Fraction chimed in, taking over from Black to talk a bit more about Kurt and Wyatt Russell’s involvement in the series, saying “And to work with Kurt and Wyatt, we knew we had, just as actors, they were right away talking about how to build the character. Even internally. I don’t know if it was ever like a conscious thing, but we would start to refer to Wyatt’s character as Lee and Kurt’s as Shaw. And to watch the two of them to watch Lee become Shaw and to see that Shaw used to be Lee, they worked on it together. And they both brought so much passion and so many ideas to the table.”

Two actors, one role

Wyatt Russell as a younger Lee Shaw in Monarch
(Apple TV+)

He went on to talk about how they would read each other’s scenes to get a better understanding of who this character used to be and who he was to be come. “Kurt would read Wyatt scenes. Wyatt would read Kurt scenes and then they’d swap notes and kind of meet in the middle,” Fraction said. “So they were always on the same hymn sheet.” Black even said that they “would give script notes on each other’s scenes” while working together.

The most fascinating part of the situation for me came from the adjustments made to bring the character to life throughout time. Fraction said that if someone changed in Wyatt Russell’s performance for Lee, they’d let Kurt Russell know and vice versa and the two would swap information to keep the character as well rounded and versed as possible. But, according to Black, one of the things that might have appealed to them was the idea of not being offered just another father and son role. “They were really intrigued by playing this idea. Because apparently from what I heard,” Black said. “They had been offered roles before to play father and son. That wasn’t that exciting. But the idea of ‘no, you’re the same character in different time periods’ was something that they had never been presented with before that they were excited about.”

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters hits Apple TV+ on November 17th!

(Featured image: Apple TV+)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.