*It’s never a good sign when actors don’t understand the title of their own television show.
At the June 16 premiere press conference for “Extant” – Steven Spielberg’s upcoming CBS drama starring Halle Berry as an astronaut (Molly) who returns from a solo mission mysteriously pregnant – no one could give a definitive answer when asked about the significance of the title.
“I kind of wonder the same thing. I should probably know that answer,” said Annie Wersching, who plays Femi Dodd, a rival of Molly’s scientist husband, John Wood (Goran Visnjic).
“It’s such an unusual word, not one you hear bandied about,” acknowledged Michael O’Neill, who plays the head of the international space exploration agency Alan Sparks. In the beginning of his acting career, the first piece of advice he received was to start with the title of the project, which prompted O’Neill to look up the definition of “extant” early on in the filming process.
Louis Gossett Jr., who plays Molly’s alcoholic father, took a stab at the definition without consulting a dictionary: “Extant is the creation of a new being,” he guessed. “[Molly] goes to space and comes back pregnant. She’s an extant.”
Not quite, according to Berry herself. The star gave The Hollywood Reporter a slightly different explanation for the show’s title.
“It means to be in existence,” she said. “The name is great because that’s what our show is about is fighting to stay alive.”
Series creator Mickey Fisher agreed, adding that there’s an element of survival, too. O’Neill found a similar dictionary definition: “Survive, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Set in a futuristic world where bathroom mirrors turn into digital touch screens and robotic kids are the norm, including Molly and John’s son, Ethan (“Looper’s” Pierce Gagnon), the series centers on the quest for survival after an alien species attempts to take over the earth.
“At the end of the day, we are going to be fighting for humanity to exist,” Berry added. “I don’t think there could be a better title actually.”
“Extant” premieres July 9 at 9 p.m. on CBS. Watch the trailer below.