‘Foundation’: How to turn the greatest science fiction literary saga into a television series?

Isaac Asimov’s book series just hit Apple TV. The series has managed to turn the more than 15 books that talk about philosophy, mathematics, and psychology into human stories. The director and the actors explain to us how they did it.


The challenge of Foundation it seemed impossible. In fact, several creators had given up trying because they considered it overwhelming. But at last a television series has dared to address the fascinating science fiction universe of Isaac Asimov, made up of more than 15 books, and which narrates the fall and rebirth of a galactic empire in a millennium, to the screen. It premiered last weekend on Apple TV, and leaves the viewer in awe of the universes to explore, but sometimes exhausted by the magnitude and relevance of the story. Its actors, Jared Harris and Lee Pace, and its creator David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, Blade) explain to us how they managed to turn this saga into a series in which they talk about philosophy, mathematics and psychology makes us think about our future as a species.

Series creator David S. Goyer envisioned this ambitious project as 80 chapters, in 8 seasons, although for now we will have to settle for the first 10, which are the ones who have just seen the light. But the series has not adapted the entire universe of the Asimov saga, which tries to write a history of the future, but the last 7 books of the saga, those referring to the Foundation. They remain outside, although they serve to illustrate and set the dynamics and territories of the universe of the series the Saga of the Robots and the Trilogy of the Galactic Empire.


Apple TV+

Jared Harris as Harri Seldon in ‘Foundation’

The premise of the series leads us to a galactic universe ruled by a family of clone emperors (Lee Pace) in which the mathematician Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) predicts its destruction, and proposes to the family of emperors to save civilization by creating a Foundation. Located in a remote place, they must safeguard the keys of civilization to refound the empire once it has been destroyed. However, the emperors accuse him of sedition and Seldon and his followers will be banished to the end of the galaxy, the planet Terminus, where they will try to carry out their project.

I am a big fan of Asimov, and when they told me about the project I was one of the skeptics who believed that it was impossible to carry it out “, explains actor Lee Page (Guardians of the Galaxy), who plays Brother Día, one of the three clone emperors.

“I thought it was too big of a story, it happened over a long period of time, and when I read the first three scripts when I was offered the role I thought, Wow, he’s done it. He’s found a way to do it! With accessible characters and with whom you can connect emotionally. It’s like Dave has found a way to cheat death, extend their lives. And it has led us to a story that could potentially last thousands of years, “he explains in an interview with SensaCine Lee Page.

Also Jared Harris (Chernobyl, Mad Men), who plays the mathematician Hari Seldon, was fascinated by David S. Goyer’s version: “I was struck by how David adapted the original material and how he turned it into this story. I understood from the first moment because it had remained such a great challenge for so many decades

And Harris adds: “Because the books are very philosophical and dramatic in nature. I think he did a fantastic job. Even including the philosophical research and the themes of the books but dramatizing them.. I was completely captivated by his ambition in the scripts, in the stories, and it is a huge story, with very, very big goals in mind. “

In order to adapt this entire universe, the director explains that he started from the most basic. “I tried to identify the issues that were most important to Foundation. I made a list, the team agreed, and the next challenge was to turn those books that were very philosophical, books about ideas and debates into something emotional (…) They had to become characters with their destinies. So I had to identify which were the most emotional themes and embody them in various characters “explains the creator of the series.

Thus came the character of Gaale, who is played by newcomer actress Lou Llobel, of Spanish descent. This character discovering the universe ahead of him, allowed the director to give the viewer someone with whom to discover the story

“The premise in the series was that it had to work for any viewer, you didn’t have to read the books first, or know anything about the future, or be a scientist, or anything at all, and Gaale doesn’t know anything about all of that. So we could have the experience of discovering the universe and the galaxy through his gaze and that we would introduce all those concepts and ideas through it “, explains the director.

Actress Lou Llobel, who plays a young woman of extraordinary mathematical ability with divinatory powers, comes from a flooded and isolated planet, and tells SensaCine – half in Spanish and half in English – that she has experienced it as “a once in a lifetime opportunity early in my career. “ Lou, 26, who came to the series after going through several castings, And that she has wanted to be an actress since she can remember, for which she assures that she has worked very hard, she has lived throughout her life in Zimbabwe, Seville, South Africa and London – where she moved at the age of 18 to fulfill her dream – she explains that has more in common with his character than it might seem. And he explains it:

My story is a bit like that of Gaale who had to leave his home, which was isolated and lost from the world, and traveled to the center of the universe, to the place where everyone wants to go, to do something important with his life.

FILMING SET IN TENERIFE AND LANZAROTE

The series illustrates several of the planets and universes that Asimov reflected in his extensive literary work. To capture them, the series has traveled to several European countries: Iceland, Ireland, Malta and the Canary Islands in Spain. Thus they created for example Synnax, the floating world from which Gaal comes, in immense water tanks in Malta, or the isolated and volcanic planet Terminus, in Iceland, Lanzarote and Tenerife that fell in love with the actress Leah Harvey, who plays Salvor Hardin. : “

Lanzarote and Tenerife are beautiful islands and I feel very lucky because I had the opportunity to experience spectacular moments. Like the golden hour, when it is sunset, there were so many colors … I have seen many sunsets in very beautiful countries but as these I have never seen the same, it was wonderful, “says the actress in an interview with SensaCine.

But what everyone agrees on when they talk about Foundation is that it is set in a very, very distant future, but it is talking about the present, as its creator David S. Goyer explains: “The great challenge was to illustrate the here and now of history. Because it is not a series about the future, it is a series about our concerns and concerns. It is a series about Mee Too, Climate Change, I could not even imagine that it was a show about the pandemic, but it turns out that it is, it is a series about the conflict between science and politics, science and faith … And it is also about what we would be willing to sacrifice as individuals and as a society so that our children can have a world tomorrow. They are all very fundamental questions that we ask ourselves every day, which we have to face, “he concludes.


Apple TV+.

Lee Pace playing Brother Día, the clone emperor of ‘Fundacion’

Lee Pace, who plays the almighty Brother Day, agrees with him:

I’m a huge fan of Hyperion, Dune… They all talk about what happens to humans when you slightly change the circumstances around them and this makes sense to investigate them. Because the stories also speak of what happens to us here and now on Earth. Although the characters live on very distant planets in the very distant future, they are actually talking about us on a species level. It’s about what our values ​​are, “concludes Pace.