Lee Pace is a fan of science fiction.
Deciding whether to join the cast of “Foundation” was a no-brainer.
“I had read the first book of the ‘Foundation’ series,” Pace says. “So when I heard it was being made into a series, my first thought was, ‘That’s impossible. There’s no way they’re going to be able to tell this story in a visual dramatic format.’ But then they approached me about playing Cleons, and I was proved wrong. (Writer) David (S. Goyer) cracked it. I think he figured out a way to create characters that span the story.”
The Apple TV+ series is based on Isaac Asimov’s book series and chronicles a band of exiles on their monumental journey to save humanity and rebuild civilization amid the fall of the Galactic Empire. It premieres Friday, Sept. 24.
The series also stars Jared Harris, Lou Llobell, Leah Harvey, Laura Birn, Terrence Mann, Cassian Bilton and Alfred Enoch.
Pace is excited to share the story with an audience because the series is different from the books.
“It’s a different pleasure than reading the books,” he says. “I think the story of watching the series unfold is a different one. It’s ‘Foundation’ at its core.”
Pace is playing the Galactic Emperor himself, leader of the Cleons, a “long line of emperor clones” who fear their dynasty may come to an end. His character’s name is Brother Day.
Jumping into the character proved to be exciting for the award-winning actor.
“Well, one of the things I find most interesting about this Brother Day is that it’s not a role that I’m playing,” he says. “I’m playing a series of men who play the role of the Emperor of the Galaxy. It’s, like, he’s not just one man. I will be playing, you know, a few, as they kind of cycle through the years.”
Pace says that in the series, there’s this fantasy that they are all the same man, but he’s the emperor of the galaxy who has control over trillions of lives.
“He’s got a monopoly on the violence in the galaxy,” he says. “There’s that fantasy. And then there are these individual men who inhabit that role. And as a child, they’re kind of brought up, they’re taught the lines, they’re taught the blocking of Empire, and then they inherit this extraordinary amount of power. And I think what happens in our show is that Hari Seldon, (played by Harris), you know, calculates his math, shows him with mathematical certainty that the Empire is falling. And he goes about setting the foundation on the far corners of the galaxy that will kind of give the humans a chance to survive the Dark Ages that come. But, you know, the characters that I play are trying to stop that change from happening. We’re trying to keep this imperishable permanence. They’re trying to keep alive the prosperity, the consistent growth of the galaxy. And that’s not possible. You can’t stop things from happening. I think they’re gonna fight like hell to keep it, but I think we can expect to watch them suffer.”
Pace says one of the biggest obstacles in bringing Brother Day to life was working on mirroring Mann, Bilton and Cooper Carter.
“We worked on this mirroring our gestures,” Pace says. “(We worked on) the cadence in our voices, so that we could feel our way through what this bizarre little family is. I could say that’s an obstacle, but I think that’s really the meat of the character.”
Production for the series took place in Ireland, Germany, Iceland, Malta and Spain. It began in November 2019 and then had to stop during the pandemic.
“We started and then stopped and came back together again, but I was never not thinking about (the series),” Pace says. “The hours I spent in my barn doing yoga, thinking about the Emperor of the Galaxy, is really laughable. But I never feel like I’ve got enough time to get the character right. So I was happy to have more time to kind of think through who the character is and what he’s facing, what the situation is and trying to get that character as far away from me as possible.”