Halle Berry isn’t the only high-profile get in Extant, CBS’ futuristic drama about an astronaut who returns pregnant after a year-long mission in space. The drama is produced by Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment. Here, Spielberg talks about discovering the script, and the drama’s futuristic elements that aren’t entirely out of the realm of possibility, before the show premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When you read the script for Extant, was your first thought, “Hey! Mickey Fisher bogarted parts of A.I. and Minority Report!“
STEVEN SPIELBERG: No, not really. My first thought was what a tremendous concept for a series about a woman who discovers that her baby isn’t her own and then goes in search of the truth and what part of that offspring belongs to her genetically. The subplot and the other characters were really compelling to me. I never thought it was any kind of homage to my other science-fiction movies. I was really, really pulled into Molly’s story and her relationship with her husband and what happens when you get pregnant and have to come home and you don’t know who the father is or what the father is.
Was Extant always the title?
It was. I liked it. Nobody suggested that we change it. I thought that was very brave of CBS not to, you know, ask us to come up with a less esoteric title.
Mickey Fisher is a first-timer! Did he fall from the sky or what?
It’s wonderful. By the way, that’s how a lot of really good writers are born. We all come from the sky. We just come from different parts of the sky.
Was Gravity out when you were developing this? Did you realize there was a market for females in peril in space?
No. I read the script long before I knew about Gravity or had ever seen Gravity.
Had you ever met Halle Berry before?
No, I don’t know her socially at all. I met her on the night she won her Oscar.
Will you read every script of Extant?
Yeah, I read every script that my television company Amblin Entertainment develops. I’ve read every script on Extant and I’ve sat in the writers’ room occasionally to just sort of brainstorm. I don’t break the stories.
So what will Molly’s baby look like?
Molly’s baby is part of what makes Extant a compelling mystery story. And I think that will remain mysteriously shrouded until it, you know, has its walk‑on.
Speaking of futuristic stories, do you have a sense of pride in Minority Report and how it accurately predicted that advertisements will target individual consumers? I’m recalling those scenes where Tom Cruise would walk into a Gap and a video ad would address him by name.
I’m so proud, but it’s a twin-edge sword. I’m really, really proud of all of the inventions that my team and myself came up with that made Minority Report a story of the near future. But I’m also angry at myself for not getting patents on all of my ideas because otherwise I could have owned Facebook and iPhone. If only I had the foresight to figure out hey, this could really be in our future … not just in the future of sci-fi but in platform technology, where your fingers do the walking through the world of information. Science-fiction writers today are telling stories about tomorrow. A lot of the technologies are not outside the realm of possibility. And I think it’s interesting to see so much of what science-fiction writers dream up coming to pass not a hundred years later, but seven or eight or 10 years later.
You don’t indicate what year it is in Extant.
We don’t name the decade at all. The cars have the appearance of a very near future but not a distant future. We wanted to make sure that it’s a world that audiences can relate to, a world they can dream about having in maybe a decade or so, but also a world that is not off-putting because it looks impossible.
For more on Extant, pick up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands now.