An adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series is coming to Apple TV+ and is rapidly adding cast members. Jared Harris (Chernobyl) will play Hari Seldon, “a mathematical genius who predicts the demise of the empire.” This week brought more casting news, some of which may be surprising to book readers. Several major characters will gender-swap, adding more gender and racial diversity to the show. Let’s dive into what we know so far about the upcoming Foundation show on Apple TV.
Cover Art for the Foundation Trilogy by Michael Whelan | Image via Skydance
The Foundation Show Gender-Swaps Several Major Characters
Lou Llobell is a relatively unknown actress, who has only one acting credit to her name. However it is a genre credit, as she recently played her first role in another space adventure with Voyagers. Llobel will play Gaal Dornick, a gifted mathematician and ‘psychohistorian’ who follows in the footsteps of the famous Hari Seldon. In the Foundation novels, this character is male, so Llobell’s casting will gender-swap the character.
Photo by Alastair Batchelor via IMDB
Leah Harvey will play Salvor Hardin, the mayor of Terminus City. Terminus is a major planet in the Foundation series, and Hardin is an important figure throughout the books. Salvor Hardin is the character who says the famous Asimov quote: “violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” This is Harvey’s first major role, although she has played bit parts in films like Fighting With My Family, and the TV movie Search and Destroy. Hardin is another gender-swap, and a fairly major one for the series to make.
Photo by Michael Shelford via IMDB
Foundation Adds Some New Characters And May Draw From Prelude
Now we have some interesting character additions. It looks like the show might draw from some of the other novels such as Prelude To Foundation to flesh out some of the characters. And a few new characters are in this list, indicating potentially larger story changes.
Lee Pace (The Hobbit) adds another ruler to his list of roles. Pace will play the galactic emperor, known as Brother Day. In the novels, this character is known as Cleon. But the show changes the name from the novel’s classical reference for a more mysterious title. The show also appears to be adding some family members for the emperor that did not appear in the Foundation series.
Terrence Mann will play Brother Dusk. He is “the eldest living member of the ruling family.” This might be the patriarch of the empire, and Brother Day’s father. Cassian Bilton will play Brother Dawn. He is “the youngest living member of the ruling family and next in line to be Brother Day.” It sounds like he will be Emperor’s son, although it is unclear if these characters existed in the Foundation series at all.
Laura Birn (A Walk Among The Tombstones) will play Eto Demerzel. Another gender-swapped role, Demerzel is “the enigmatic aide to the Emperor of the Galaxy.” This character features heavily in Prelude To Foundation, and is important to other Asimov novels. It is very likely they will expand the role of this character, and build upon the mystery surrounding them.
Isaac Asimov | Image via Wikimedia Commons
Foundation Is A Pivotal Show For Apple TV+
Apple TV+ may not have the catalog (or the Baby Yoda) of Disney+ but the new streaming service is taking strides to add more content. With other sci-fi originals like the Ronald D. Moore helmed For All Mankind, the streaming service is definitely trying to draw in more genre fans.
The Foundation series has been influential on a generation of science fiction. Many attempts have been made to adapt the series over the years, but none have ever gotten far. The series is often viewed as too massive in scope and too theoretical in philosophy to translate well to screen. The fact that the late author’s daughter – Robyn Asimov – is involved with the series does bode well. Only time will tell if Apple TV+ will do this hallmark sci-fi series justice. If they do, it would be a major boost to the credibility of the streaming service.
Still, we don’t yet know when the Foundation show will air on Apple TV+. It has a cast and a showrunner in the form of David S. Goyer, but no release date yet.
(Featured Image via Harper Voyager UK)
Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.