One of the most versatile and compelling leading men from the stage, television, and screen Lee Pace (Guardians of the Galaxy, Pushing Daisies) stars in Apple TV+'s highly anticipated Foundation as Brother Day. The fate of an entire galaxy rests on one man's beliefs in Dr. Hari Seldon (Jared Harris). Will his conviction save humanity or doom it? Based on the award-winning novels by Isaac Asimov, Foundation chronicles a band of exiles on their monumental journey to save humanity and rebuild civilization amid the fall of the Galactic Empire. In direct opposition to Dr. Seldon is Brother Day. Recently Pace took time out from a hazy post Met Gala morning to chat with Bleeding Cool's Jimmy Leszczynski about Foundation, how David S. Goyer has finally figured out how to adapt this massive story, and how his character, Brother Day, fits into the story.
How familiar were you with Isaac Asimov's original Foundation before you got this job?
Lee Pace: I had read the first book; I'm going to say about a year and a half before I talked to someone about the series. When they told me they were doing it, I was like, there is no way you're going to be able to make a show about Isaac Asimov's Foundation. It's too big. There are too many characters. It takes too much time. It's unfilmable in a way. There's no way you can dramatize this story. I was like; there's no way y'all are going to be able to pull this thing off. And then, about a year later, they approached me to talk about Cleon. I read the first three episodes, and David Goyer cracked it. He figured out a way to center the story around these characters that managed to cheat death in very different ways. So potentially, we've got these characters that can take us through the thousand years that it takes if Hari Seldon's, not prophecy the calculations, the math comes to be true, and the empire does fall. We've got the characters that can take us through the time that it takes for that to happen.
You don't want to die, so you keep cloning yourself to extend your reign. Can you describe in a little more detail, specifically Brother Day and how he fits in the story?
LP: The role I play is Brother Day, and I try to be very clear about that. I'm playing Brother Day and not the Emperor of the Galaxy or Cleon because what I'm playing is a role that several men will inherit for a period of time in their life. And that role is the Emperor of the galaxy. That role is someone who is an autocrat, who has control over the entire Milky Way galaxy and the trillions of people that live inside of it. They decide, you know, who can live and who dies, and they decide who prospers and who suffers. It's mind-boggling in scope and abstract that he believes that he has cheated death, that he can live forever and keep this imperishable permanence happening for all time. What interests me about the characters, because I will play this series of men who inherit that position, is that. The story kicks off a personal journey for each of them where they start to become aware of their sentience and individuality. So Brother Day is always looking towards Brother Dawn and saying, these are the lines. This is the blocking; here are the costumes; these are the props. This is how you will be the Emperor of the galaxy when you inherit that power. Brother Day is also looking towards Brother Dusk and saying, you made a lot of mistakes. When I inherit this position, I will be greater. I will distinguish myself. I will be the Cleon that we were meant to be.
So there is this budding sense of individuality that distinguishes each of these men as they take on this role. It's those differences in them that really interest me. You know, it's about them discovering their sentience, discovering that they're not a God. They're a man. They're a man who holds this office of a God. I think it's kind of like a riddle in a way. I'm very cautious about what I say in these interviews because it is a riddle. I don't want to solve it for anyone. I want to be very clear to the audience that this is just my kind of interpretation of it. So take it with a grain of sand. I'm proud of my work and stand by it. But I want people from their own walks of life to come to our show and have their own conclusions about what power means. What is math worth? It can count the minutes, but does it do it accurately? Measure the changes that have taken place within those minutes? Just to spirituality more effectively, investigate that territory; we're trying not to provide conclusions about what it means to be a human. We're just kind of opening the investigation.
Brother Day is malevolent, evil, kind of happy about it, or perhaps even unaware that he's the bad guy. Do you think there's any comparison to Ronan the Destroyer?
LP: No, I really don't. I mean, I don't see I mean, I mean there will be comparisons made, (but) that's not one that I'll do. I don't see a difference because what I see in him is someone who is; they want the same things. They want mankind to survive. They want to keep peace and prosperity throughout the galaxy. The problem is, to a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The only thing they know how to do is violence. All they know is that as long as they can hold the monopoly on the violence, as long as they can keep their extraordinary technology, you know, keep it and keep control of it, keep control, that's really what it's about. It's about the limits of control. They think if they have control over mankind, mankind will prosper.
But that's a fantasy, just like the idea of immortality is a fantasy. I think that becomes clear with a character like Salvor Hardin (Leah Harvey), who always sees other options other than violence to solve a problem. Those characters very much exist in contrast to each other, even though one is on Trantor in his little bubble of empire. And one is way out in the wildest part of the galaxy imaginable. So, yeah, I think he's yeah, he's dangerous. I think it plays into what Hari Seldon's math has discovered, which is causing the empire a great deal of anxiety. I would like to say watch how these Cleons respond to that information in a different way. Dusk, Day, and Dawn all respond to this. I hesitate to say prophecy, it's math, and he's found with mathematical certainty that this empire is falling. Watch these three individuals respond to that in very different ways.
Full interview here:
Based on the award-winning novels by Isaac Asimov, Foundation is a thrilling and emotional saga that chronicles a band of exiles on their monumental journey to save the fate of humanity amid the fall of the Galactic Empire. When revolutionary mathematician Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) predicts the impending demise of the empire, he and his loyal followers venture to the far reaches of the galaxy to establish The Foundation in an attempt to rebuild and preserve the future of civilization. Enraged by Seldon's claims, the ruling Cleons — a long line of emperor clones — fear their unrivaled reign may be weakening as they become forced to reckon with the potential reality of losing their powerful legacy forever.
Foundation stars SAG Award winner and Emmy Award nominee Jared Harris as Dr. Hari Seldon; Emmy Award nominee Lee Pace as Brother Day; Lou Llobell as Gaal Dornick; Leah Harvey as Salvor Hardin; Laura Birn as Demerzel; Terrence Mann as Brother Dusk; Cassian Bilton as Brother Dawn; and Alfred Enoch as Raych.
Led by showrunner and executive producer David S. Goyer, Foundation is produced for Apple by Skydance Television with Robyn Asimov, Josh Friedman, Cameron Welsh, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Marcy Ross, also serving as executive producers.