‘Extrapolations’ Has Star-Studded Cast, Including Meryl Streep as Humpback Whale

Meryl Streep in 'Extrapolations'
Meryl Streep in Apple TV Plus’s ‘Extrapolations.’ (Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

Climate change drama Extrapolations debuts on Apple TV Plus March 17, and offers a standout cast to viewers. Meryl Streep, Sienna Miller, Kit Harington, Daveed Diggs, Edward Norton, Diane Lane, Tahar Rahim, Yara Shahidi, Matthew Rhys, David Schwimmer, Keri Russell, Marion Cotillard, Forest Whitaker, Murray Bartlett, Tobey Maguire, Heather Graham, Judd Hirsch and Michael Gandolfini are in the cast. 

There are eight episodes, and Scott Z. Burns is behind the show, which is set in the future and details how climate change has altered life on Earth. 

Three episodes are out March 17, and then new ones turn up on Fridays. 

The pilot, set in 2037, is called “A Raven Story.” As nations fight over the fate of Earth, Rebecca (Sienna Miller), Marshall (Daveed Diggs), and Junior (Matthew Rhys) see their plans go up in smoke. The second episode, set in 2046, is called “Whale Fall.” Meryl Streep voices a humpback whale.  

Extrapolations is a bracing limited series that introduces a near future where the chaotic effects of climate change have become embedded into our everyday lives,” goes the Apple TV Plus description. “Eight interwoven stories about love, work, faith and family from across the globe will explore the intimate, life-altering choices that must be made when the planet is changing faster than the population. Every story is different, but the fight for our future is universal. Are we brave enough to become the solution to our own undoing before it’s too late?”

Scott Z. Burns’ credits include An Inconvenient Truth and Vinyl. At a TCA Press Tour session in Pasadena, Burns suggested the series may get people to think a little more about climate change. “There's a lot of art that’s been made that seems to suggest we're all going to die, and I don’t know if that's true or not,” he said. “I tend not to believe that we're all going to die but what I know for sure is that before we answer that question, we're all going to live. And that's the question I wanted to answer, and it's sort of the ride that I wanted to invite everybody on was, what's it going to be like to live to that decision? What are the decisions we're going to have to make?”

At TCA, Diggs said he found “the messy middle” nature of the series and how it depicts climate change very intriguing. “Getting to tackle a big, important thing that's hard to talk about by telling stories about people living their lives is always the kind of thing you want to be a part of, and it's a very difficult thing to do,” he said. “Once I got the scripts and saw, oh, these are people living in the times essentially that we're living in, and that’s what we're watching. That was kind of the thrilling part to me, that it was making something very big, very small and personal.” 

Reviews for Extrapolations have been mixed. The Hollywood Reporter said (opens in new tab), “The tone is set for the rest of the series: serious, heavy and mostly lacking in nuance. The urgency of its message is self-evidently important enough that no expense has been spared in delivering it. The cast is star-studded and the production design lavish. But all this gravitas comes at the expense of the human characters who should be at the center of its stories, turning the series into a well-intentioned but mostly dry series of discussions.” 

Extrapolations is executive produced by Burns, Michael Ellenberg, Gregory Jacobs, Dorothy Fortenberry and Media Res’ Lindsey Springer. Fortenberry said the limited series would not have come together without the backing of Apple and Media Res. “Apple and Media Res really had our backs when we swung for the fences,” she said. “When we came in and were like, ‘OK, so it’s this giant timespan, and also a million countries, and also movie stars, and also science,’ and at every point, however ambitious we wanted to be, we felt backed up by having people say, ‘OK, what do you need?’ ” ■

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.