Leah Harvey (On the Road, Small Island) stars in Apple TV +'s highly-anticipated Foundation as Salvor Hardin. After starring in Emilia at The Globe Theatre and wrapping production on Tuesday co-starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Harvey landed their "big first job" as the Warden of Terminus, where Dr. Hari Seldon's (Jared Harris) Foundation is located. The fate of an entire galaxy rests on the beliefs of this one man. 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. Harvey recently joined Bleeding Cool for a bit of a chin wag to discuss representing young black women on the show, the overall concepts of Foundation, and how the costume helped their transformation into Salvor Hardin.
You play Salvor Hardin in this adaptation of the "Foundation." How familiar were you with Isaac Asimov's original story before you got the role?
Leah Harvey: I hadn't actually read any of the books before I was auditioning. While I was auditioning I started reading it and really enjoyed the books. My family actually were fans. My Nan was a big fan of Isaac Asimov. It was in my blood. I think it was meant to be.
Can you tell me a little bit about Salvor Hardin? What is their role in the story?
LH: Salvor is the warden of Terminus where the Foundation, the organization, is. Salvor's job is basically to look after everybody, make sure everyone is safe. So she works outside a lot. She kind of goes around the perimeter of the city and makes sure everything's working well, kind of head of security. She's really determined to look after everybody, that's kind of her main drive.
Can you discuss the differences between your Salvor and the character in the book?
LH: The core concept of Salvor's is pretty much the same. She leaves such an impression on the Foundation that she's mentioned for years to come. That's something that definitely happens in the book. I love the adaptation of it. I'm really glad that I get to represent young black women in the show and just show that we can be really cool and just deal with problems like everybody else.
How would you describe the overall story and the concept of "Foundation"?
LH: It's really hard to describe it because it's so vast, and that's kind of the point. I would say Foundation is the idea that we as people need each other in order to get through crises. In this show you see people who you will fall in love with, you see them dealing with problems. You see moments of joy, moments of sadness, struggles with power. It's also visually beautiful, the way it's been put together. We've worked really hard on it and I think, I hope people enjoy it.
The show is beautiful to look at and the special effects & set designs are gorgeous on the screen. What do you think fans are going to react the most to when they see it?
LH: I think when fans see the big scale of some of the scenes that we're doing, I think that's going to put across the fact that we've worked really hard on it and that, like, we're really determined to bring a really great show to people, for people to enjoy some of the stuff is just honestly amazing, like some of the landscapes that are hardly touched with VFX, but so perfectly touched with the effects that you don't even notice it. And I love those moments. They're great.
Did you shoot on green screens or in a virtual environment like with "The Mandalorian"?
LH: When we first started this job, I thought that was going to be the case, but then we kind of discovered that we hardly ever had blue screens, and green screens or tennis balls to look at. As much as we could, it was so real, especially on location. All the props were there, all the buildings were there. That was incredible. It made our job so easy to imagine where we were. It didn't take much to kind of think I'm on a spaceship.
Can you just tell me a little bit about your costumes?
LH: The costume design is so good. Honestly, I was so lucky to have the costume. I have these really cool copper jackets. I didn't realize this, Kurt and Bart, the costume designers, (placed) copper in the material. I didn't realize that was even possible. I wear that in the first episode. The costume was so integral to creating the role. As soon as I put it on, I would transform and suddenly have an American accent and be the character, which is funny to think about. When I think back on it now, I kind of think it's a bit odd, like to suddenly change personality, but that's what we do, I guess.
"Foundation" has such a diverse cast, what was the mood on the set?
LH: We had such a great time. David [S. Goyer], the showrunner, creates really lovely environments for us to work in. It's actually quite a big cast. There's a lot of us there and we're all on different planets, different worlds, and times. So we got to watch each other do our thing. Everyone was really supportive, especially of myself, Cassian [Bilton], and Lou [Llobell], it was our first jobs, 'big' first jobs. We very much felt looked after by everybody and it was a proper family. It's become a proper family and I'm really thankful for them all.
Full interview here: