‘Foundation’ on Apple TV+: Everything We Know

Apple TV may set the sci-fi genre on the path to greatness or to ruin with the premiere of its new series Foundation. The studio is adapting a series of classic sci-fi books by author Isaac Asimov in one of the most ambitious projects of the prestige TV era. While it is expected to debut soon, there is still plenty of mystery surrounding Foundation.

Foundation is one of the most influential science fiction stories ever written. It was a major inspiration Dune, Star Wars, Star Trek and The Expanse, among other space-faring stories. It is set in a far distant future when humanity has thoroughly colonized the entire Milky Way galaxy, and Earth itself is just a distant memory. It chronicles the fall of a great Galactic Empire and a small, concerted effort to mitigate the damage of that fall.

Foundation was one of the first projects announced by Apple TV when the company began its streaming service, and it has taken a while to come to fruition. In that time, news of the production has been scarce, but we have collected the updates and announcements here.

Apple TV ‘s latest teaser suggests that Foundation will be released sometime by the end of 2021. That leaves fans time to get acquainted or re-acquainted with the material, and to familiarize themselves with the style and approach of the adaptation. Here’s what we know about Apple’s Foundation series so far.

Release Date

Foundation is expected to premiere on Apple TV in the summer or fall of 2021, based on the streaming service’s latest general teaser trailer. Since no exact date has been set, it seems most likely that the show will come out in the fall.

This is also backed by a report by Lovin Malta, which published an interview with writer and showrunner David S. Goyer back in January. Goyer was already looking ahead to filming future seasons in Malta — assuming the show was renewed.

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Trailer

A teaser trailer for Foundation was released in June of 2020, leaving fans to wait over a year for more scenes from the iconic world of Asimov. From the looks of it, most of the shots in the new teaser up above were borrowed from this long trailer.

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Cast

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(Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

The full cast of Foundation seems to have been announced and credited on IMDb by now. The major players in the story include Jared Harris as Hari Seldon, Lou Llobell as Gaal Dornick, Leah Harvey as Salvor Hardin, Lee Pace as Brother Day, Cassian Bilton as Brother Dawn, Terrence Mann as Brother Dusk, Laura Birn as Demerzel, Daniel McPherson as Hugo, T’Nia Miller as Halima, Pravessh Rana as Rowan and Kubbra Sait as Phara.

Those 11 stars are currently credited for appearing in all 10 episodes of the series. Others appear in as many as 7 or as few as 1 episode throughout the season. Given the nature of Foundation, these kinds of brief and scattered appearances are inevitable.

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Creative Team

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(Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Foundation has a full staff of writers to adapt Asimov’s novels for the screen. Goyer is credited for writing on the series, as are several other big names in the sci-fi genre like Josh Friedman — who wrote the 2005 adaptation of War of the Worlds — and comic book writer Saladin Ahmed in his TV debut.

Five directors are attached to the series so far — Alex Graves, Roxann Dawson, Jennifer Phang and Rupert Sanders. Goyer — known for writing The Dark Knight, among many other things — is the EP and showrunner, with a huge team of other notable producers. One is Asimov’s daughter, Robyn Asimov.

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What Will Season 1 Cover?

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(Photo: Courtesy of Apple TV )

One of the first questions a Foundation fan is likely to ask when you tell them the story is being adapted is: “how?” Foundation is not like other novels with linear character arcs producing internal and external growth and change. It started as a series of short stories depicting the gradual fall of a Galactic Empire, and a secret society’s 1,000-year-long plan to mitigate that fall. The first book alone covers about 160 years’ worth of Galactic history.

This obviously does not lend itself well to TV, where viewers will want to spend more time with characters and studios will want to book A-list actors for entire seasons, not fleeting glimpses in a Millennium-long arc. So far, Apple TV has not commented directly on how it is approaching Asimov’s timeline, but it appears that the first season will be set mostly within the first half of the first book.

The biggest clue for this is that Llobell is credited for appearing in all 10 episodes of the series, even though her character only makes a brief appearance in the opening chapter of the first book. However, Harvey is also credited with appearing in all 10 episodes even though her character and Llobell’s character never meet in the book, so there could be some changes to keep Gaal around for decades in order to make this work. It could be that they’re introducing Salvor Hardin earlier as well.

Either way, there is no one credited yet as Hober Mallow, indicating that Season 1 of Foundation will stick to at least the first 60 years of the historical period Asimov calls “FE.”

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Character Changes

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the TV series has changed some characters’ genders and races — presumably to increase the diversity in the story where possible without changing the narrative in any meaningful way. In the books, Gaal Dornick and Salvor Hardin are both presented as men. In fact, only one female character even speaks in the first book, and not particularly favorably.

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These tweaks are unlikely to impose any real changes on the narrative and should serve to increase the realism of the story, in a galaxy with trillions of people trafficking between planets. In his lifetime, Asimov proclaimed himself a feminist, so it’s unlikely that he would have a problem with these changes either — although this report by LitHub details some of Asimov’s failings in that regard.

Foundation wrapped production in April. It is slated for release sometime in the fall of 2021 on Apple TV .

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