This Friday (14 July), the second season of Apple TV+’s Emmy and BAFTA-nominated sci-fi series, Foundation, will finally debut, transporting us back to the Galactic Empire where our band of exiles continue to grapple to save and rebuild civilisation. Joining the likes of Jared Harris, Lee Pace, Ben Daniels and Lou Llobell on the front lines is Welsh actor Dino Fetscher, who you might recognise from ITV thriller Paranoid, Channel 4’s sci-fi series Humans, or you may have caught his Olivier-nominated performance in The Normal Heart at the National Theatre last year. We sat down with Dino ahead of Foundation season two to hear all about the show, as well as dream roles, upcoming projects, and wanting to do a bit of everything.
Interview: Dino Fetscher On Starring In Foundation On Apple TV+
Hi Dino, how’s life going at the moment?
Hello! Life is good: I’m healthy, it’s summer in London, and I’m busy filming a lovely show for Netflix.
You’re about to star in Foundation on Apple TV+ – can you give us an elevator pitch for the show?
I’m sworn to secrecy so I really can’t say much other than: you meet us 150 years on from the end of the first series, where the Foundation faces a new, even bigger crisis. Expect more high-octane sci-fi fantasy adventure! I know I’m biassed, but this series really takes things up a notch, it’s very edge-of-your-seat viewing. I’m so excited to share it with the world.
Can you tell us about your character?
I wish I could go into more detail, but my lips are sealed until release! What I can tell you is that my character is fricking cool; he’s queer, a master of martial arts, serves high up in the Empire’s military, he’s deeply sensitive, wise beyond his years and possesses a big, feeling heart. He’s a very complex and nuanced soul who goes on a very exciting journey of discovery throughout the series.
How did you get into character/prepare for the role?
I love to immerse myself in as much research as possible. So I watched a lot of sci-fi, I read the Foundation books by Isaac Asimov, I studied lots about the army, military and air force. I love creating a very detailed back story, so I mapped his life story and key events up until my first scene in the series. I also worked very closely with my co-star Ben Daniels [who plays Bel Riose] to align all the specific details of both our worlds. I really like to work imaginatively with improv, so I did a lot of that too, alongside detailed text work. Ben and I were also fortunate enough to have a wonderful relationship with our writers and showrunner, David Goyer, so we had a lot of input on our characters arc within the series, which was very exciting.
Any standout moments from rehearsals or filming?
It was all a phenomenal experience. The sets and locations were just mind blowing – on a scale I’ve never experienced before. But I’d have to say, without giving too much away, that my favourite stuff was probably the fighting. My character is not one to be messed with… I got to have some pretty big scale action fight scenes, which I adored. It was a lot of hard work and months of rehearsing, but I just love getting really physical and learning new skills, so it was a dream. That said, I also have some really beautiful, tender scenes which were so wonderful to play – they were an absolute highlight. Getting to play both, within the same character was a real gift.
What is the cast dynamic? Who was your fave person to work with?
The cast was great. We had a lot of fun shooting this series all over Europe. It was a little tense at times because of COVID – but we still managed to have a blast. They’re such a talented bunch and made us feel so welcome. I was lucky enough to be cast opposite Ben Daniels once again, which was an utter delight. We became such good friends on a job we did at The National Theatre (The Normal Heart), so it was pure hilarity going from 1980s New York City to 47150CE space together. We basically cackled the whole shoot. Laura Birn who plays Dermezel is also a riot – Ben and I would always drag her into mischief, and of course lovely Lee Pace! He’s such a sweetheart.
You’ve also starred in the likes of The Normal Heart, Paranoid and Years and Years. What has been your favourite project to date?
That’s such a difficult question. I’ve relished every job I’ve done for different reasons; they’ve all taught me something new about myself and the world. But The Normal Heart holds a very special place in my heart. It felt like more than just a play – it felt much bigger than us. It touched people in a way that was truly humbling. It was a real honour to be a part of that production, and I’ll never forget it.
Banana was another really special one for me. It was my first big lead, my first TV series, and my first time working with Russ (Russell T Davies). I just love him – he’s just such a talent and a joy. And I loved playing Stanley in Humans; but who wouldn’t love playing a badass, sentient, fighting robot?
Any roles in the pipeline that you’re excited about? (If you’re allowed to tell us!)
I’m currently filming Fool Me Once for Netflix which is based on the novel by the wonder that is Harlan Coben. I play Marty, an up and coming eager-beaver Detective-Constable opposite the wonderful Adeel Akhtar. The show also stars Michelle Keegan, Joanna Lumley and Richard Armitage.
I’ve also just shot a beautiful short called Good Boy with Ben Wishaw and Marion Bailey, written and directed by the amazing Tom Stuart.
Who has been your favourite actor to work with in the past?
I couldn’t pick a favourite actor that I’ve worked with – that’s impossible – but I’m really enjoying working with Adeel on Fool Me Once because we have been given permission to improvise parts of scenes and it’s so fun. I love improv, and with Adeel it’s hilarious.
Which co-star did you learn the most from?
Every actor I’ve worked with has such a unique sense of play and approach to the work, so it’s really hard to say. I’ve learned so many different things from each and every person I’ve ever acted with. The biggest collective lesson that I’ve learned from my much more experienced co-stars, though, is the importance of garnering an abundant, childlike sense of play and an ability to not give a f*ck, while conversely still deeply caring. Being able to approach work with a deep sense of rigour and focus, without getting too serious, while having a proper laugh along the way, for me, is key. If you hold onto a bird too tightly, you will kill it. It’s the same with acting. Finding that balance is my constant work.
What’s your dream role?
I don’t necessarily have one specific dream role, more dream projects and dream collaborations that I’d love to do. I absolutely adore Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams and would love to do one of their plays one day. I’ve always dreamed of doing something on Broadway – that’s definitely an ambition of mine. I think Mike White, the creator of The White Lotus, is such a brilliant artist; I’d love to work with him. I’d love to work with Luca Guadagnino – his Suspiria and Call Me By Your Name are two of my favourite films. I think he’s brilliant.
In terms of specific roles, though, I’m really attracted to a huge plethora; characters that are deeply complex and flawed really draw me in and are such fun to play, because you can keep peeling back the layers and surprising your audience. I work very physically, so motion capture stuff is also something I’d love to do. I also have always wanted to shoot something in a water tank – I think that would be so much fun! As you can tell, I want to do it all! My favourite part of this career is the variety and contrast of worlds in which I get to play.
What’s a genre you’d like to try or do more of?
Again, it’s the variety I love, but I would love to do more comedy. My role in Fool Me Once is quite comedic and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve always loved improv and I trained in it after drama school, so when I’m allowed to be silly and go off-piste, I’m in my element.
I definitely want to do more fantasy, too! Foundation is a taste of that, but I’m talking more pure fantasy – I’m obsessed with witches, werewolves and demons, etc. For context, I was a hardcore Buffy, Charmed and Harry Potter fan as a kid.
Do you get to spend much time at home?
It depends on the job. Sometimes I’m away for months at a time, but at the moment I’m filming in Manchester, so I’m back almost every weekend, which is lovely.
Do you live in the town or the country? Which do you prefer?
I’m from Cardiff, then moved to London when I was 20, and have been here ever since – so I am a bit of a city boy. I love cities; I love being able to spontaneously go to the theatre or random event with mates at the drop of a hat. Being queer plays a big part in that – a lot of us flock to the big lights, where we feel safer, where we are more accepted.
That said, when I’m amidst nature, I truly feel at peace – especially when I’m close to water. Wild swimming is one of my favourite things in the world. A weekend away in the countryside leaves me feeling so recharged and calm – I need to go more often.
What’s your relationship with social media like?
Alright, but definitely precarious at times. It’s something that is very useful for my work and for connecting with friends, family and fans, but it can also be a blackhole of procrastination, self-comparison and anxiety. I am definitely guilty of using it as a numbing device at times when I’m really strung out – and it never helps. It’s something I am always constantly re-assessing, if I’m being honest. That said, it can be a really wonderful tool for discovering new artists and connecting to the world.
How do you find balance in your personal and work lives?
It can be really challenging when you’re filming across several different countries, or when you’re doing a play and have massively anti-social hours, but I always try to carve out time for myself and the ones I love amidst the madness of a job. I’ve had to learn to say ‘no’ to things a lot more. Sometimes I struggle with that, because I am naturally a very social soul but, if I over-do it, I end up very depleted and totally exhausted. Pre-planning my week is a big tool in helping me to find a good balance and prevent me from feeling overwhelmed.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I’m lucky in that I have always wanted to be an actor, for as long as I can remember. It’s been one thing that’s really helped me stick the course during the rough times; there’s been nothing else I’ve wanted to make a life out of. So, even during my darkest hours, changing careers has never been an option.
If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?
You’re enough, you belong here, have a laugh and don’t take it all so bloody seriously.
How can we all live a little bit better?
Something I’ve started doing recently, when I get stressed about the small stuff (that I always mistake for big stuff), is watching videos or reading about space. It reminds me of how infinitesimally small we actually are and helps me put things into perspective. Essentially, we are just microbes floating around space, on one teeny-tiny grain of sand on an infinitely giant, sandy beach, so why am I so stressed about that bus I just missed? Most things don’t matter at all, so let’s just have a good time, be kinder to one another and smile more.
Anything fun in the pipeline – professionally or personally?
I’ve a couple of really exciting things that I am attached to at present; one of which is a gorgeous film that hopefully starts shooting in autumn of this year, but I can’t say any more at present. In my personal life, I’m going to New York on holiday in September with my boyfriend; he’s never been, so I’m really excited to take him.
I’m tuning into… Yellowjackets on Paramount+
What I’m reading… The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka
The last thing I watched was… Speak No Evil by Christian and Mads Tafdrup
What I’m most looking forward to seeing… Untitled F*ck Miss Saigon Play by Kimber Lee
Favourite film of all time… It’s a toss-up between 28 Days Later by Danny Boyle and Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth
Band/singer I always have on repeat… At the moment probably Fall Out Boy and Kelly Clarkson
My ultimate cultural recommendation… Hampstead Heath ponds in London on a sunny day
Cultural guilty pleasure… Britney Spears ‘Slave 4 U’ dance-break choreography – I’m not sure if that’s counted as a ‘cultural pleasure’, more of a party trick, but hey ho
What’s next for me is… I’m filming Fool Me Once for another month, then I have a little break and start filming on a new exciting project in autumn!
Foundation season two arrives on Friday 14 July. Catch up with season one on Apple TV+.