Halle Berry Explains What 'Extant' Means

The star of the new CBS summer drama talks to THR about the peculiar title, while some of her co-stars are less sure about its meaning.
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Halle Berry at the premiere of "Extant"

Extant has caused some confusion among castmembers.

From executive producer Steven Spielberg, CBS’s new science fiction drama about an astronaut (Molly Woods, played by Academy Award winner Halle Berry) who returns from a solo outer space mission inexplicably pregnant has its actors guessing at the title's meaning.

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When asked about the significance of "extant" at the June 16 premiere at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, some castmembers admitted they had no clue. “I kind of wonder the same thing. I should probably know that answer,” said Annie Wersching, who plays Femi Dodd, a rival of Molly's scientist husband, John Wood (Goran Visnjic).

"It’s such an unusual word, not one you hear bandied about," acknowledged Michael O'Neill, who plays the head of the international space exploration agency Alan Sparks. In the beginning of his acting career, the first piece of advice he received was to start with the title of the project, which prompted O'Neill to look up the definition of "extant" early on in the filming process.

Louis Gossett Jr., who plays Molly's alcoholic father, took a stab at the definition without consulting a dictionary: “Extant is the creation of a new being," he guessed. "[Molly] goes to space and comes back pregnant. She’s an extant.”

Not quite, according to Berry herself. Stunning in a tight-fitting metallic dress, the star gave a slightly different explanation for the show’s title.

“It means to be in existence,” Berry told The Hollywood Reporter. “The name is great because that’s what our show is about is fighting to stay alive.”

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Series creator Mickey Fisher agreed, adding that there’s an element of survival, too. O'Neill found a similar dictionary definition: "Survive, that’s what we’re trying to do."

Set in a futuristic world where bathroom mirrors turn into digital touch screens and robotic kids are the norm, including Molly and John's son, Ethan (Looper's Pierce Gagnon), the series centers on the quest for survival after an alien species attempts to take over the earth.

"At the end of the day, we are going to be fighting for humanity to exist," Berry added. "I don’t think there could be a better title actually."

Extant premieres July 9 at 9 p.m. on CBS.