’Fallout’s Ella Purnell Incorporated the Game’s Choices Into Lucy’s Story

’Fallout’s Ella Purnell Incorporated the Game’s Choices Into Lucy’s Story


The Big Picture

  • Lucy’s evolution mirrors player growth in
    , with her making crucial decisions and facing consequences, just like in the game.
  • Ella Purnell immersed herself in
    research to understand the series’ iconic imagery, adding depth to her portrayal of Lucy.
  • Lucy’s choices, from weapon upgrades to major decisions, have weight in the series, reflecting the importance of player decisions in the game.

One of the greatest challenges in making a good video game adaptation is translating the world and its feel to a medium that no longer allows player control. Prime Video’s Fallout series faced the same hurdles with bringing to life the post-apocalyptic, retrofuturistic reality featured in Bethesda and Interplay’s beloved role-playing titles. As players progress through the wasteland of the games, set over 200 years after a cataclysmic nuclear war, they become more adept survivors with new perks, weapons, and more while making decisions in the story, gathering companions, and completing a variety of sidequests. With Lucy being a vault dweller and stand-in of sorts for a player character, Ella Purnell faced an uphill battle in incorporating the Fallout gameplay loop into her performance.

During a Collider Ladies Night interview with Perri Nemiroff ahead of Season 1’s premiere, Purnell was asked about the little nuances and backstories she developed for Lucy on her own and how they were woven into the final product. Her main goal when preparing for the series was to do plenty of research. Although series creators Gram Wagner and Geneva Robertson-Dworet insisted she didn’t have to delve into the games herself, she said it was important to her to feel what fans of Fallout felt when it came to the series’s iconic imagery, from the Vault-Tec jumpsuits to Pip-Boys, power armor, and everything in between:

“I love research. It’s probably my second favorite thing. When you asked me that question earlier, I was gonna say research. I will make playlists, I will imagine what they like to wear, what kind of perfume they would wear, all of these annoying, pretentious actor-y things, but I kind of love them even if they’re completely useless. I guess that was playing the game for me. Jonah, Geneva, and Graham, they all told me, ‘You don’t have to play the game. You really don’t need to. It’s not mandatory by any means.’ And I did anyway because I wanted to feel the full weight of what all of this meant. I wanted to feel the gravitas of that moment when I first tried on the vault suit, and knowing how special this was, and what a big deal, what an honor it was to be able to do that.”

Throughout Fallout, viewers will see Lucy’s evolution on the surface, going from an eternally optimistic vault dweller with all-American gumption to a more hardened and experienced survivor capable of taking on the wasteland’s threats and peculiarities. Her growth is meant to mimic that of a player as they get better and improve their character. What skills and weapons the player builds around are entirely in their control, just as what direction they take in the story is, to an extent.

Viewers can’t control what Lucy does in the series, but Purnell wanted to incorporate even small choices that players experience, like picking up a new weapon, into her performance. The bulk of Lucy’s story is also based around choice, from her initial decision of whether to leave Vault 33 to whether or not to help Michael Emerson‘s Wilzig in Episode 2 while trying to find her father. Purnell hopes that the extra hesitation in each decision, big and small, from her main objective to her arsenal, echoes how important everything a player does in this world can be:

“I think one of the examples I can give you is that one of the themes of the game is choices. The choices that you make change your character’s trajectory, and leveling up weapons is another big thing. So there’s this moment where Lucy, the pacifist who only ever uses a tranq gun, is given the decision, ‘Is she going to level up her weapon?’ And it wasn’t really a big scripted beat. It wasn’t a big scripted moment, but for me, the context of knowing this is something from the game that could be a really big deal, allowed just a little extra second of thought, a little extra second of hesitation, of temptation. ‘How is
choice right here going to affect my future?’ Who knows if it’s going to make a better performance or not, but it sure is fun.”

Purnell shares the screen with Aaron Moten and Walton Goggins in Fallout Season 1, which is now available in its entirety on Prime Video. Check out our review here for our thoughts on the series.


In a future, post-apocalyptic Los Angeles brought about by nuclear decimation, citizens must live in underground bunkers to protect themselves from radiation, mutants and bandits.

Release Date
April 11, 2024

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