TV HAS become the new playground for Hollywood’s big-screen actors. With Kevin Spacey having a ball playing dirty politics in House of Cards, Julianna Margulies impressing with her legal prowess in The Good Wife and Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight creating a buzz in the dysfunctional, dark and twisted drama Ray Donovan, it is no wonder the gravitation continues to gain momentum.
Now Halle Berry is flexing her acting muscles as astronaut Molly Wood in Extant, in which sci-fi and the supernatural merge.
After spending over a year on a solo mission aboard the Seraphim, she returns home to her robotics engineer husband John (Goran Visnjic) and their humanoid son Ethan (Pierce Gagnon). The reunion is far from joyous though as Molly has to explain her mysterious pregnancy.
Berry says this role was a no-brainer for her.
“When I read it, it read to me like a movie. The character was rich, she was complicated, she was someone I instantly related to on some level. I loved the world that was created. It was the perfect balance of super-natural sci-fi and character-driven,” Berry shares.
“I thought some of the best stuff was on television today and I think as artists, as actors, we have to go where the work is, where the good characters are who move us, who inspire us, who want to make us do what we do.”
Viewers will see Molly deal with adjustment issues.
“The first show is about coming home, reconnecting, and then Molly finding out that she didn’t come home alone. She left a little robot boy that her husband created before she left because they had infertility problems and it’s about trying to reconnect with that robot. But she struggled in connecting with that robot even before she left.”
Over time, though, Molly’s relationship with Ethan evolves.
Berry points out: “Certainly, by the end of this season, it won’t be resolved. But Molly will be closer to understanding Ethan and closer to maybe finding a way to love him and understanding what loving a robot would mean. And I think Ethan’s development by the end of 13th show will be light years from where he started, so that will make Molly beckon all kinds of questions: is he learning like a human and, if that’s true, then is he learning to love like a human? And I think if Molly can wrap her brain around the fact that he could possibly love her, then I think she could love him. And those are the questions we are going to have to wait and see get answered.”
Of the actors cast as her family, she says: “Having Goran Visnjic play my husband is just great. I’ve been a fan of his. I saw him in Beginners and I knew then he was someone who is largely talented and someone whom I, at some point in life, would love to work with. I think he is a perfect John. He is the perfect balance of brainy and brawn. He is very sexy, yet he pulls off being this scientist who is very cerebral. He is very much a family man. You believe that about his character, too.
“Pierce Gagnon is only eight years old, but he is a ‘Boy Wonder’. He is highly intelligent and for him to be doing a series like this, it just kind of fits for him, too. He is all about the robots and understanding the mechanics and the robots. He is a fine little actor. I mean, he is playing a robot and he does all the little things that make you believe that he is not a real boy.”
With Steven Spielberg’s name attached to the series, viewers can expect the sci-fi quotient to be exhilarating. Although the technological aspect is crucial for the futuristic ambiance, the human issues also get to play a key role in the storyline.
“Every episode has a human quality. There’s a family who are fighting to relate to each other, who are loving each other, who have conflict with each other. There are two parents trying to raise a child. My character is dealing with a pregnancy, so our family is dealing with a real pregnancy and what does that mean? So, every show, I think, we fire on all those elements. There’s a mystery, you know, what is this entity, where did it come from, what does it want?”
Amid the tension at home, there are other problems that influence the Woods’ lives, like John’s struggle to get funding to keep his prog-ramme alive and, at the same time, gain the respect of his peers and the society at large.
The actress offers: “Well, you know what’s great about this series? There are no villains. There are no characters who are bad. Even the entity, I don’t look at that as being bad. It’s just different. We don’t understand it. There are some characters who have their own motives for doing the things they are doing, but does that make them bad?
“I’m always one to try to find the humanity in every character and once you do that you can’t just say something is good or bad. That’s too black and white and I think, as people, we are all shades of grey.”
Looks like our X-Men actress is about to create quite a Storm with her latest TV exploit. Talk about finding the perfect fit!
• Extant, M-Net (DStv channel 101), Wednesday at 9.30pm.