Extrapolations Star Tahar Rahim Says Series Creator Scott Z. Burns Is Intelligent and Concerned
“When I first read episode six, which is one of my main episodes in Extrapolations, I felt like this part was gold,” beamed Tahar Rahim (The Serpent) of starring in Apple TV+’s bold, timely, and sublime new limited environmental drama series. Extrapolations feels like “event programming” at its bests. It’s been a while since something with this much depth, great acting, and exceptional research came along. Best to dive in and experience it with sobering perspective.
The wonderfully executed outing takes viewers into the near future where climate change is wreaking havoc. Now embedded into people’s everyday lives, the ripple effects of climate change are shown via eight interwoven stories about love, work, faith, and family from across the globe. Written, directed, and executive produced by Scott Z Burns (Contagion, The Bourne Ultimatum, An Inconvenient Truth), it explores the personal, life-altering choices that must be made when the planet changes faster than the mindset of the population. It boldly asks: “Are we brave enough to become the solution to our own undoing before it’s too late?”
There’s a star-studded cast to savor here. Packed to brim, in fact. In addition to Rahim, Meryl Streep (Don’t Look Up, Let Them All Talk), Sienna Miller (Anatomy of a Scandal), Kit Harington (Game of Thrones), Daveed Diggs (Hamilton), Edward Norton (Glass Onion), Diane Lane (Y: The Last Man), Yara Shahidi (Grown-ish), Gemma Chan (Eternals), David Schwimmer (Friends), Cherry Jones (Transparent), and Judd Hirsch (The Fabelmans) should turn heads.
But wait—there’s more: real-life couple Keri Russell (Cocaine Bear) and Matthew Rhys (The Americans) take on two diverse roles. Toss in The Last of Us’ Murray Bartlett—always in fine form— Tobey Maguire (Babylon), Adarsh Gourav (The White Tiger), Marion Cotillard (Annette), Forest Whitaker (Godfather of Harlem), Eiza González (Ambulance), Michael Gandolfini (The Many Saints of Newark), and many others, and Extrapolations delivers plenty of an eye candy.
And a haunting, thought-provoking, engaging ride. Rahim, who plays two characters in Extrapolations, shared more with MovieWeb.
A Timely Environmental Story
Extrapolations is executive produced by Burns, Michael Ellenberg, Gregory Jacobs, Dorothy Fortenberry, and Media Res’ Lindsey Springer. The series marks another partnership for Apple TV+ and Media Res, joining The Morning Show and Pachinko. Rahim takes on two roles—his big reveal unfolds in episode six in what’s bound to spark plenty of (good) social media commentary. But viewers will also catch the actor early in the limited series, where his character, Omar Haddad, is confronted with a life-altering choice amid the surreal and chaotic impact of climate change.
“I must thank Scott Z. Burns, because I had a great experience in Extrapolations,” Rahim said. “When I first read episode six, I felt like this happens once in a lifetime—to play a character like this. Then I realized what the whole show was about. I didn’t have the opportunity to read other episodes—I just read two of them. So, I’m really excited as the audience is, to watch it and discover it.”
“For me, doing something for your art is great,” he added. “But when you do your art, and you’re bringing it up to another level, which is being, hopefully, helpful, and useful to our planet in this case, that’s rare. To help the audience understand a little bit more about what’s happening and what could happen in the future regarding climate change, I just felt blessed. I really wanted to be part of it—like crazy.”
Extrapolations doesn’t hold back. This a gripping drama with many moving pieces, and characters pushed to the limits. A brutally honest if not unrelenting look at the effects of climate change and the impact it creates—not just on the planet but emotionally and mentally—Extrapolations is loaded with research that informed the story.
Writer Scott Z Burns, whose previous works include hard-hitting, thought-provoking outings such as The Report and An Inconvenient Truth, says he’d been crafting the idea for the limited series for some time.
“When I worked with Al Gore and director Davis Guggenheim for An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore would meet scientists who were supportive of that film, and they would always talk about turning this [the climate crisis] into stories,” Burns said. “I carried that around with me for more than a decade, thinking about how do you tell so many climate stories where you see some sort of post-apocalyptic world? Dorothy, Michael, and I have always talked about what if we bring the event horizon closer and tell people stories that they can’t push away and say, ‘Oh, well, that’s, that’s not in my lifetime.’ And the event horizon, as it turns out, for everybody is different. It depends on so many variables in your life, which as a storyteller is very exciting.”
Rahim says he was intrigued by his characters and hopes audiences find the limited series captivating.
Bringing the Gripping Drama to Life
“Scott Z Burns wrote the show, but he was directing episode six, too,” Rahim noted. “He gave me a lot of freedom. And as a writer, when you have some lines that don’t feel right, he can write it instantly. So, he’s a great director for actors, always open to suggestions. I needed somebody like this with me to be able to go through this character, because it’s a bit messy.”
“In episode six, my character has an illness caused by climate change,” he went on. “Somehow, he fixed his heart, but not his brain, so he’s losing his memories. His [day] job is to roleplay different persons. So, I had to play four to five different characters in the story, who speak five different languages—French, Arabic, German, English, and Spanish. That was challenging but very exciting.”
In nearly every new scene in that episode, Rahim admitted he feared he wasn’t going to be able to pull it off. “Then I became excited about it,” he said. “And the emotional journey of this character—I can’t really spoil it—but he’s so stuck to his past. So, over the course of the story, we wonder, will he meet somebody who will help him?”
What’s unique about Extrapolations is that each episode takes place at a different time spanning a 33-year period from 2037 to 2070. The planet’s temperature and sea levels are rising. Meanwhile, crops are in peril, forests burn, and once tranquil coastal communities are pretty much gone. The writing and direction keep the focus on people, however, illuminating dramas, traumas, risks, and relationships. There’s plenty of trippy modern gadgetry that should entice viewers, too. The series takes place, after all, in the future when environmental collapse isn’t on the horizon. It’s happened.
Viewers will also be intrigued by the impressive research sprinkled into the mix. That never weights down the outing. Rather, it’s given in digestible chunks. All of it, Rahim notes, wouldn’t be made possible without Burns’ shrewd insight. “The man is clever, intelligent, and concerned.”
Extrapolations premieres exclusively on Apple TV+ on March 17.