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Walton Goggins Turns on the Charm in the First Fallout Trailer

Series co-creator Jonathan Nolan: "You gotta make yourself happy, and I've made myself very happy with the show."
  • Walton Goggins in Fallout (Photo: Amazon Studios)
    Walton Goggins in Fallout (Photo: Amazon Studios)

    TV has been at odds with video games since the days of Atari, and the battle for eyeballs has never been more pitched than it is now. The advent of streaming has caused the two industries to play nice while also competing for consumer attention, with gaming companies offering space on their consoles for folks to stream the likes of Max, Disney+, and Prime Video (among others) while, in turn, streamers like Netflix look to break into the gaming business for a piece of that sweet multi-billion-dollar action. (Meanwhile, Microsoft and Sony continue to finesse their cloud-gaming services. Physical media, tragically, continues to be on notice.)

    The fact is, it's still a pain to convince hundreds of millions of gamers to put their controllers, keyboards, and mouses (mice?) down long enough to watch the latest TV hotness. A middle ground has been struck with Fallout, the first collaboration from the seemingly happy marriage between Bethesda Softworks and Amazon Studios, who hope their live-action adaptation of the post-apocalyptic role-playing game will become a streaming juggernaut this April. Information about the series has been under wraps since it was first announced in 2020, with its teaser trailer, released on October 23 ("Fallout Day" to those who know), being especially withholding for audiences not already well-versed in all things Fallout.

    That's about to change. Released during a global press conference on Wednesday, the latest trailer, which spans a visually packed two-and-a-half minutes, reveals tantalizing new morsels of information from the upcoming 8-episode season. Set to the eerie clicks of a Geiger counter and rife with pistol-packing ghouls, organ-harvesting Mr. Handys, and one Power Armored knight putting an uppercut to a Yao Guai (mutant bears, for those of you keeping score), it sure looks like every dime in Amazon's undisclosed budget has been put on screen. However, if Fallout is to be a success, it's not just impressive visuals and a name brand that will put real-life Vault Dwellers in front of their sets. (Though, first impressions? They can't hurt.)

    That sticking point was very much in conversation during the press conference on Wednesday, which included Fallout co-developer Jonathan Nolan, Bethesda executive Todd Howard, showrunners Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Graham Wagner, and stars Ella Purnell and Aaron Moten, all present to unveil the trailer. In it, we see Purnell as the series's primary Vault Dweller Lucy. Described by the actor as "innocent, naive, and privileged… essentially a newborn baby," Lucy's decked out in the blues and yellows of the Vault-Tec jumpsuit as she ventures out into the hostile nuclear wastes of Los Angeles. (A new location set in the game world of Fallout; completionists, take note.) Her iconic duds seem to put a target on her back.

    Among Lucy's various misadventures, she bids farewell to her Vault Overseer father (played by Kyle MacLachlan), encounters an incredulous, sun-scorched trader ("I thought all you dipsh*ts were dead!" she cackles), as well as a rogue Mr. Handy robot set on politely removing her internal organs and a mysterious and strangely charismatic ghoul bounty hunter played by Walton Goggins. (What's a ghoul in the context of Fallout? You'll want to read this.)

    Goggins, who supplied a video message for the conference, described his character in appropriately dramatic fashion. "In some ways, [he's] the poet Virgil in Dante's Inferno… He's the guide, if you will, through this irradiated hellscape that we find ourselves in." As a "pragmatic, ruthless" bounty hunter, The Ghoul — Cooper Howard in the Before Times (so-named for Bethesda's head honcho) — will show naive Lucy the ropes in typical Goggins fashion. ("He has a wicked sense of humor, much like me," Goggins chuckles.)

    As the trailer hints, the storyline of Fallout will feature flashbacks that showcase life in this world before the bombs went off. According to Goggins, Howard will be "the bridge between both" the past and present, where we'll visit what appears to be his Hollywood days before radiation and fate turned him into an immortal gunslinger. (A black-and-white sequence in which Goggins addresses the viewer à la The Twilight Zone and glimpses of the actor decked out in a singing cowboy getup akin to Tom Mix suggest Cooper was a struggling actor when the world met nuclear annihilation.)

    A clearer picture of Moten's Brotherhood of Steel squire, named Maximus, also takes shape in the trailer. "A moral ambiguity was forced upon him," Moten says of his character, who dons the franchise's iconic Power Armor of the Brotherhood and, later in the trailer, is paired up with Lucy. This suggests Maximus' loyalties in this broken world are shaky at best; as Moten puts it, his character is learning "how to hold onto your pure self." (Maximus does appear to be on some sort of vengeance quest; why did he join the Brotherhood in the first place? "To hurt those who hurt me," he says.)

    As people who appreciate both mediums know only too well, the overall quality of game-to-TV adaptations can go either way. (The present binary between "good" and "not so much" is HBO's The Last of Us and Twisted Metal on Peacock.) How can Fallout stand head-and-shoulders above the other ambitious, expensive streaming events while also making game fans happy? That balance will likely elude Fallout, but that's not stopping Nolan, Howard, Robertson-Dworet, and Wagner from realizing their best show.

    "I don't think you really can set out to please the fans of anything, or please anyone other than yourself," says Nolan, who evoked his experience working on the Dark Knight films for Warner Bros. "I think you have to come into this trying to make the show that you want to make, find the pieces that were essential about the games, and try to do the best version of those[...] It's kind of a fool's errand to try to figure out how to make people happy."

    For his part, Nolan, an avowed Fallout player ("Fallout 3 almost derailed my entire career," he laughs), is excited to play a role in the next phase of this franchise. "You gotta make yourself happy, And I've made myself very happy with the show."

    That's one gamer who'll be setting their controller down long enough to watch Fallout, and from the look of things, it’s a safe bet he won't be alone. The tenuous harmony between gaming and streaming continues apace.

    Fallout Season 1 premieres April 11 on Prime Video; previously, the premiere date was reported as April 12. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Jarrod Jones is a freelance writer currently settled in Chicago. He reads lots (and lots) of comics and, as a result, is kind of a dunderhead.

    TOPICS: Fallout, Amazon Prime Video, Aaron Moten, Ella Purnell, Jonathan Nolan, Walton Goggins, Video Game Adaptations