As Jared Harris knows, Season 2 of Apple TV+’s “Foundation” begins a mere “130 years later,” amid the fall of the Galactic Empire.
In this epic adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s stories, a band of exiles journey to rebuild civilization. Harris, 61, stars as mathematician Hari Seldon whose psychohistory predicts the future of populations. He is able to see the changes that mean instead of a 30,000 year gap before a 2nd Empire rises, Hari predicts just 1,000 years. At last season’s end Hari, now a second digital copy of the original, hopes to forge a new civilization.
Although Asimov’s original trilogy was published in the 1950s, Harris wasn’t constricted by the author’s vision in creating his own version of the mathematical seer.
“I read all the Isaac Asimov novels. Hari disappears from the narrative after the second short story. So in terms of being informed by the books, as the series is tracking that progress, there is nothing in the books that talks about how people talk about him,” Harris said in a Zoom interview.
“I also looked at the great mathematical and scientific geniuses and formed an idea of who Hari was. I also looked at the great geniuses that existed in art because, as you know, genius has a specific mentality.”
In showbusiness you don’t need to be a genius to create a successful career but you need to work hard. It’s hardly accidental Harris, the middle of three sons of the revered Irish actor Richard Harris (“Camelot,” Harry Potter’s Professor Albus Dumbledore), starred in two titans of 21st century television: his Emmy-nominated work in “Mad Men” and his BAFTA-winning Best Actor for HBO’s Emmy-winning “Chernobyl.”
“I’m lucky enough to work with fantastic talents. It starts with the writers on the ground and the thing that they have in common is that they’re trying to tell the story through the demands and needs of the characters.
“David’s sort of superpower,” he said of the series’ co-creator David S. Goyer, “is that he’s able to spin fantastic plots, and they are absolutely fascinating. It’s a great facility to do this type of storytelling.’
And Harris’ input is encouraged: “We talk about the things that work for me and things that didn’t. There’s a willingness to take ideas onboard.”
Because Harris’ job is to become, at least on camera, a highly complicated character – and for months at a time, he knows, “You have to protect yourself. You have to find somewhere else to go during the day when you don’t need to be ‘present.’ But you can’t go so far away that you lose sight of what you’re doing.”
Season 2 of ‘Foundation’ streams on Apple TV+ July 14