Halle Berry and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in season 2 of "Extant" (CBS)

Halle Berry and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in season 2 of “Extant” (CBS)

*During her 25-year film career, Oscar winner Halle Berry has played a plethora of characters from junkies to villains, ingénues to schizophrenics. It’s not easy playing such complex roles—particularly when you’re in just about every frame. So, who could blame an actress who wanted to lighten it up just a tad and spend more time at home with her expanding family?

When Berry was pregnant with her second child by new husband Olivier Martinez, she knew that logistically, her working options would be limited. TV seemed like the perfect solution. She could work at home and spend more time with her son Maceo, 1, and daughter Nahla, 7.

In theory, that was a reasonable expectation. But shooting a 48-minute drama series like Berry’s futuristic CBS drama Extant takes time—a lot of it. Welcome to 15-hour days and 4 a.m. call times.

“It is a whole lot of work,” Berry said during the network’s press conference to promote its summer slate. “I mean I’ve never worked so hard in my life as I did last year. And, I was nursing. My baby was three months old so I was doing drive-by nursings every two hours and I was over my head—the amount of scenes we shoot in a day and the things I had to memorize. I thought I would see my family more and I barely saw them!”

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Halle Berry and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in season 2 of “Extant” (CBS)

It didn’t help matters that Berry, who plays Molly, an astronaut with a robotic son and another child she somehow conceived during a solo space mission, is not only the star of the show but one of the executive producers as well. And that’s not just a courtesy title. She’s a very hands-on EP who has created what her new co-star Jeffrey Dean Morgan says is a very “collaborative” environment.

Translation: Actors spending a lot of time discussing the direction of their characters.

When the show returns July 2 with so much change afloat, Berry will likely be as busy, but at least she won’t be nursing a newborn. Craig Shapiro and Liz Kruger have been hired to “reboot” the show; we’ll see a lot less of Goren Visnjic, who played Molly’s husband John; but we’ll see a lot more action and sex. Translation: Berry and Morgan, who plays a futuristic cop, will likely be wrinkling some sheets.
Molly will also be more accepting of robo-boy Ethan, the son that her husband apparently built with spare parts.

“I think Molly did struggle last year,” Berry said of her relationship with Ethan. “She wanted a child of her own. So accepting a robot as that didn’t seem like something Molly could do.”

Apparently Molly now realizes that robots need love, too, and will pursue a more “human” relationship with Ethan. The bond between mother and son is a role that Berry has experience playing in films like Monster’s Ball, Losing Isaiah and in Kidnapped, a movie she recently wrapped. Now it’s something she’s experiencing in her personal life as well.

“Now that I have a son, I really do see the difference in the relationship than I have with my little girl,” Berry said. “There’s a special relationship that mothers and sons have.”

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Halle Berry and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in season 2 of “Extant” (CBS)

It’s one thing to engage a fellow actor, but it’s quite another challenge to embrace some of the other characters on set. Some we see, some we don’t.

“Do I believe in aliens? Well, before this show I was a little girl and looked up at the sky and thought, my gosh, there has to be something else out there,” Berry said. “I do believe there’s something else out there. I’m not so egotistical to think that we’re the only ones in this vast universe and this show makes you think about it on a daily basis.

“I hope one day—I live long enough to find that answer. I don’t know if I will but maybe my kids will.”

 

“Extant” premieres its second season on Wednesday, July 1 10/9c. Watch a promo below:

Miki-Turner-professional-headshotMiki Turner is an award-winning photojournalist, author and professor at the University of Southern California.