The Space Shuttle Endeavor served as the perfect backdrop for the Monday premiere of the CBS sci-fi drama “Extant” as guests including series star Halle Berry flocked to the California Science Center for a screening of the pilot episode.
“Extant,” created by Mickey Fisher and co-produced by CBS Television Studios and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television, marks Berry’s first major TV role since the 2005 telefilm “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Berry plays Molly, an astronaut who returns home from a 13-month solo mission in space and tries to reconnect with her husband (Goran Visnjic) and young son (Pierce Gagnon).
Though she is no stranger to shooting action scenes after playing the titular superhero in “Catwoman” and, most recently, reprising her role as Storm in “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” the Oscar winner admitted that her return to TV did pose a few new challenges.
While walking the red carpet with husband Olivier Martinez, Berry told Variety, “This just goes at a faster pace. We shoot like six to eight pages of dialogue a day, where in film you’re lucky if you do one or two. So the pace, I think, is the hardest part for me to short of catch up to.”
Since her character spends many scenes floating about in a spaceship while completing her mission, Berry said she also underwent a fair amount of training in order to prepare for the demanding role.
“I did astronaut stuff,” she explained. “I went on a zero-g gravity flight, talked to astronauts, went to NASA. I did as much as I could.”
Berry’s co-stars had nothing but praise for the actress and the whole team behind “Extant,” including Louis Gossett Jr., who plays her father on the show.
“We hit it off pretty well, so I became her father before we even started working,” he said, adding, “We hit it off on a daily basis. I’m daddy. It just touches me to the heart when she calls me daddy, even off the screen.”
Gossett even went so far as to compare the cast and crew of “Extant” to the newly-crowned NBA champions, telling Variety, “It’s a better team than the San Antonio Spurs at CBS – Les Moonves, Halle Berry, Steven Spielberg.”
Set in a futuristic world, “Extant” deals with scientific advances and space discoveries that bring up questions about human nature and the possibility of other intelligent life existing in outer space, which co-star Michael O’Neill said may not be so far fetched.
“When you think about where we’ve come from in the last 50 years or 60 years in our space exploration, I don’t think it’s improbable that in the next 60 or 80 years we’ll see contact,” O’Neill said. “On some level, somewhere, sometime, somehow, I just feel like there are many mansions out there and we’ll find out what’s living in all of them.”
Sergio Harford, who plays a mysterious character that Molly encounters while on her mission, echoed O’Neil’s sentiment, saying, “I’m a firm believer in anything is possible. We are just a little speck in a big old universe. It’s kind of scary when you really, really think about it, and this show will have you thinking about certain things.”
Malia Obama recently made headlines after it was reported that she worked as a production assistant on the set of “Extant,” but most of the cast members said they were unaware that the eldest first daughter was involved with the show.
Later in the evening, Berry and co-stars Visnjic, Gagnon, Camryn Manheim, Tyler Hilton, Brad Beyer, Harford, Grace Gummer, Annie Wersching, Hiroyuki Sanada and Maury Sterling made their way into the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion for the screening.
After the premiere, Berry greeted guests and posed for pictures while attendees enjoyed an assortment of classic movie candies as well as miniature desserts including key lime pies and chocolate chip cookies served with shot glasses of milk.
“Extant” premieres July 9 on CBS.
(Pictured: “Extant” star Halle Berry is flanked by CBS’ Leslie Moonves and Julie Chen.)