Jared Harris Reveals the Mind-Bending Magic Tricks of Foundation

"If the answer to 'How do they do that?' is 'Well, they just did it in a computer,' it robs the magic that you want to feel"

Jared Harris Foundation
Foundation (Apple TV+)

    Jared Harris is one of our great veteran actors with a wide range of experience, which means he knows a little bit about green screen work. “The tricks or tips of acting with nothing is it’s very important that you are all on the same page about what you are looking at and where it is located,” he tells Consequence. “If it moves — when does it move, how fast does it move, where is it going? Because there’s nothing worse than when people’s eyelines start shooting around like, you know, cats with lasers on their heads.” He laughs. “That completely ruins it.”

    Once everyone’s looking in the same direction, he continues, “then it’s an imaginative process. You know, you try and imagine what it is.”

    Fortunately, it’s not as big of a concern as you might think, when it comes to his work on Apple TV+’s Foundation, based on the books by Isaac Asimov. In the show, Harris plays Hari Seldon, a mathematician whose equations can accurately predict the future, which he discovers to be a bleak one. It’s Hari’s efforts to save civilization as the galaxy knows it which kicks off the story — an aspect of the show which remains true to Asimov’s work.

    Harris says that when taking on a character like Hari, who originated elsewhere, he has to develop a connection with the role “from the beginning. That’s part of the conversations that you have with the showrunner, with the directors, with the people involved. When you’re talking to the costume designers and the makeup and all that sort of stuff, they want you to establish ownership of the role because they need you to understand the role in a deeper and more significant psychological sense than they have the time to do, if you like. And your understanding can start to inform their choices as well, because they kind of cross-pollinate those conversations.”


    One of the most exciting aspects of the series is that while it’s a massive sci-fi epic set across hundreds of years and different galaxies, the green screen use is minimal. “Obviously the stuff that’s in space, that’s got to be CGI,” Harris says. “But one of the goals that [the producers] had when they were setting out was that they wanted the world to feel real and tactile, which meant that they wanted to build as much as possible to have practical sets.”

    From his tone, it’s clear he prefers that. “I think you can tell when you are watching actors that are essentially in a giant sort of green screen box, where there’s nothing real that’s there. Somehow you can feel it, you know, when you’re watching it. I think it’s more enjoyable for the viewers, because if the answer to ‘How do they do that?’ is ‘Well, they just did it in a computer,’ it robs the magic that you want to feel.”

Latest Stories