‘Extant’s’ Jeffrey Dean Morgan: Season 2 is ‘Moonlighting’ in a Future World

Fans of CBS’ “Extant” might be in for a surprise with the season two premiere, and we’re not just talking about star Halle Berry’s hairstyle. In fact, Jeffrey Dean Morgan — who joins the cast of the futuristic thriller this year as a cop whose methods are a bit old school — went so far as to tell members of the press that this year was a reboot.

Morgan spoke to Variety about the part that got him back on broadcast television, making believable science fiction dramas and the similarities between himself and his character (note: It’s not a coincidence that the character’s named JD).

You play a character who is in the future but, because of his career choice, is still rooted in the past.

He’s a throwback. He’s a guy who’s going kicking and screaming into the future, much like myself. I’m a bit of a luddite. And then he meets Molly [Halle Berry], who is an astronaut and is telling him this story of aliens and robots and all of these sorts of things that are way beyond JD’s level of thinking. It’s going to take awhile for him to believe a word she says.

You’ve called this season a reboot. What do you mean by that?

It’s a different show. I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t watch last year. They told me not to. When they called me to do this, I didn’t want to work, I needed a break. But they kept calling. They were like here’s the deal, it’s a new show and we want you to think of it like that. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and I read the script and I liked the character. They wanted to bring an edge to the show and a sense of humor to the show. And my character fit that bill.

The wanted a relationship aspect as well. They throw my and Halle’s characters into this fire and they just sort of sit back and see what happens. What you’re dealing with is these two people getting to know each other under these extreme circumstances, which has been really fun and interesting. I love her and I think JD has a certain affinity toward her also. We’ve got sparks flying all over the place and we’ll see where that goes.

There is a little bit of a buddy cop dynamic going on in the beginning.

A little bit of let’s go on the road and solve crimes? The buddy cop lasts for a minute. We do find ourselves teamed together, but we’re not doing an episode of some kind of procedural. That’s not going to be the deal.

For all you adults out there, it’s more of a “Moonlighting” type deal thrown into a future world. My character’s a little bit irreverent and doesn’t put up with a lot of s—. Molly’s a character who comes from this background of science and stuff and she’s been lost in her capacity of how to deal with real people as well. They’re going to butt heads quite a bit. He thinks she belongs in the loony bin.

What you worry about is sometimes shows about science fiction get too smart for themselves and there’s too many things out there and people change the channel. If you outsmart your audience, you’re going to lose them. JD’s going to be the guy who is going to help us figure out what the hell is going on.

Especially when you’re doing a summer series with 13 episodes, the key is to hit them hard and hit them fast.

Is summer TV different in your mind?

I haven’t done network television since “Grey’s Anatomy” and that was a long time ago. This is kind of my first foray into it. I’ve done cable stuff and films for the last 10 years. This is a little bit different. The format’s different and the rules are different.

It’s surprising. I’m still learning about it all. I’m on episode nine and I’m still “I can’t do what? why?” I knew cussing might be an issue, but some stuff … But you’ve got to learn as you go and the pedigree of the people involved was enough to pique my interest.

Extant” returns (or depending on who you’re asking, premieres) July 1 at 10 p.m. on CBS.

More TV

  • Bristol, CT - March 13, 2017

    Mina Kimes Helps ESPN Kick Off 'Daily' Podcast

    Mina Kimes is preparing to take ESPN into a new frontier. The sports-media giant has launched a “SportsCenter” for Snapchat and tested baseball telecasts for kids. Now it’s hoping to set up shop in another media venue. Starting tomorrow, the Disney-backed company launches “ESPN Daily,” a weekday morning podcast that aims to tap its vast [...]

  • MIA Wrap

    Rome MIA Market Wraps With Stronger U.S. Presence, Boosts Italy's Industry Standing

    Rome’s MIA market for TV series, feature films and documentaries wrapped positively Sunday with organizers boasting a bump in attendance just as some 2,500 executives departed in an upbeat mood after four days of dealmaking and presentations of mostly European fresh product, which elevated Italy’s global standing in the industry, especially within the TV sector. [...]


    Showrunner Stefano Voltaggio on Netflix's 'Zero' About Black Youths in Italy (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix recently announced a new Italian original titled “Zero” that will mark the first Italian series centered around the present-day lives of black Italian youths. “Zero” is based on several books by young writer and TV music show host Antonio Dikele Distefano, who was born in Italy from Angolan parents. The project was originated by [...]

  • Content-is-King

    Top TV Execs Tackle New Distribution Landscape in Rome

    ROME – In an increasingly complex TV market, with a host of new big-ticket streaming services preparing to enter an already crowded arena, both buyers and sellers are rethinking some of the fundamentals of the TV business as they grapple with the best way to reach global audiences. A host of top producers, network executives, [...]

  • MIA-MARKET-2019_Europe-Producers-Club_4

    European Producers and Broadcasters Debate How to Weather Streaming Storm

    ROME – The impending rollout of Disney Plus, HBO Max, and other new streaming services promises a new era of uncertainty—and opportunity—for broadcasters and producers in an industry already disrupted by the likes of Netflix and Amazon. At a panel hosted by the European Producers Club Friday afternoon during the MIA market in Rome, executives [...]

  • Kevin-Beggs

    Lionsgate TV Chairman Kevin Beggs on Streamers and TV’s ‘Platinum Era’

    ROME – Over the course of two decades in the industry, Lionsgate Television chairman Kevin Beggs has witnessed the ups and downs of a business that has frequently found itself confronting both dizzying new possibilities as well as existential threats. But these days the veteran exec, who oversees the development of all scripted and non-scripted content [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content