Foundation’s Kubbra Sait on Apple’s New Series and the Transition to Hollywood

Spoilers

The first-ever on-screen adaption of Issac Asimov’s beloved, award-winning science fiction novels is coming to AppleTV+. In June, TV Fanatic revealed that Foundation premieres on September 24, with three of the ten episodes ready to stream globally. 

Foundation has an ensemble cast full of familiar and fresh faces, from Emmy winners Jared Harris and Lee Pace to up-and-comers such as Lou Llobell and Leah Harvey. 

TV Fanatic recently got the chance to chat with actress Kubbra Sait about her role as Phara in the series. Known as a TV Host and Emcee in her native India, this is her first time breaking into American media.

Congratulations on the new show! What attracted you to Foundation?

I was called in for an interview by Tess Joseph in India. It was a global casting for the role of Phara, [meaning that she] could be anyone. The audition process was tight-lipped, but the fun was in guessing what I was auditioning for.

It kind of sunk in that I was even in the running when I was called for a screen test helmed by [showrunner] David Goyer in Ireland. I haven’t wanted anything more at that exact moment.

I guess [what attracted me] was that very experience of learning lines for a job of this stature. I don’t think I fully realized what I had been a part of until after eight months of filming I heard the words: that’s a wrap on Phara.

Is there anything you can tell us about Phara? It doesn’t look like she was an original character from Issac Asimov’s original short stories.

Phara is badass. She is nothing like me, and she has a look I’ve never experienced before. Her scars are her story; she is a dream to be. She’s also a challenge.

She isn’t a character in the books, which made it an explorative journey. Her planet has a native language, which was created for this show. It was a charm to wear her boots.

Is it daunting coming into an adaption of such a beloved science fiction series like Foundation?

Daunting, I don’t know. Excited, you’ll ask, and I’ll scream a big resounding “yes!”

I look at it from the perspective of literally a new foundation of a brand-new journey.

Sometimes you need to allow things to happen to you; that is where I have found myself finding my potential.

How did you prepare for the role of Phara? Was it hard filming during the pandemic?

Phara, as a character, is inward. She’s brutal and scarred. Half my job was done with the incredible lines and rich writing; most of [the other half of] my job was done with the costume and prosthetics.

I am not the kind of person who dwells on the process of the character. It’s magical when you feel you’ve hit a note; it’s the best you can do at that moment. I am an actor who trusts my directors and co-actors; it’s never about me or Phara alone. It’s the magic of the scene in its entirety.

My co-actor Leah Harvey is a dream to work with. She is so grounded and a learner of the craft; she has studied the performing arts. It’s fun to learn and grow with people. Working with David Goyer is a dream [as he is] royalty of the genre.

Each member of the crew is bearing an advanced level of knowledge — it’s made the journey of Phara easier than I imagined.

Were you a big science fiction fan before being cast as Phara, or is this your first venture into the genre?

This is my first venture into the genre, [though] I have heard I might blow into the universe after this job. Maybe it’s all true!

In the words of Issac Asimov, “To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise.

Foundation is the result of me improvising in my career.

You’ve already worked on a show produced strictly for a digital platform — how is Foundation different from your experience filming Sacred Games?

The biggest difference for me personally was tapping into the social orientation and work ethics of the West.

Yes! I’ve had the good fortune of working with some incredible filmmakers in the East; any process becomes easier when you do more of it. This was my first outing in the West; I got this job purely based on auditions, so I couldn’t be more thrilled. 

So, excitement with a hint of nervousness got me through filming and the pandemic.

As a familiar face in Indian media with many accolades, what are your feelings about crossing over into American media? 

This is a new feeling. I’m waiting for it all to sink in. When I know exactly how I feel, it’ll be time for our next interview.

You’re a part of an ensemble cast full of familiar faces in Foundation — if you had to choose any famous television ensemble to be a part of, who would it be?

I am a fan of Breaking Bad, This Is Us, The Crown, [and] recently The White Lotus, The Morning Show, and Ted Lasso

It would be a dream to work with actors who are so delightfully present with their craft. I am still learning names in the West; I need IMDb Pro to support me in this journey.

You’ve done everything from acting, hosting television, and speaking all over the world on a multitude of topics! Do you have any aspirations to bring your hosting skills to American television, or do you wish to pursue strictly acting?

I am in love with Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Kimmel, Trevor Noah, and Lily Singh. I am a decent speaker and becoming a decent listener. When the opportunity presents itself, I aspire to have my talk show in the West. 

I loved listening to your TEDxTalk. You’re so well-spoken and full of wisdom. Any advice to any readers hoping to chase their dreams?

My TEDxTalk was just the beginning of sharing my sojourns. My only advice — be yourself and don’t try being or encapsulating other people’s journey. Be you. Be unique. There is no finish line in the race to uniqueness.

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Check out the trailer for Apple TV+’s Foundation below and stream the first three episodes on September 24 to see Kubbra Sait in action.

Caylynn Demings is a staff writer for TV Fanatic, who you can follow on Twitter.

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