Culture

Hilary Swank leads a mission to Mars in Netflix's 'Away'

Hilary Swank leads a mission to Mars in Netflix's 'Away'”

Centered around two-time Oscar Winner Hilary Swank's mission commander, Emma Logan, her earthbound husband, Matt (Josh Charles), an ex-astronaut and NASA engineer, their teenage daughter, Alexis (Talitha Eliana Bateman), and Emma's global crew, Ram (Ray Panthaki), Emma's Indian-born second-in-command and mission co-pilot, Misha (Mark Ivanir), a Russian engineer, Kwesi (Ato Essandoh), a British botanist, first-time space traveler, and the crew's only outwardly religious member, and Lu (Vivian Wu), a stoic Chinese chemist apparently selected by worldwide agreement for the Mars version of Neil Armstrong (i.e., she'll be the first human to take a footstep on the red planet), Away opens not on Earth, but on the moon, with a space-suited Emma making final preparations for the history-setting, three-year mission to Mars and back.

"As writers of this show we all more deeply understand now what it is to be isolated", said showrunner Jessica Goldberg.

Emma and Misha must make their way around the exterior of their spaceship toward a large array of solar panels whose function is critical to the success of their mission - and their survival. On a larger scale though, the different astronauts on the missions all hail from different parts of the world, and the show's message of unity has never been as prevalent as it is now.

The Gist: The astronaut is Emma Green (Hilary Swank), who is the commander of Atlas 1, the first manned mission to Mars. He is the most experienced member of the crew and also has a big ego, but he secretly struggles with the personal sacrifices he had to make in the past to get to space.

Pulling off the scene required the collaboration of multiple departments. We added gravity in the crew quarters, but for the most part they're on wires.

We see in flashback to a few weeks before the mission launch. "It's just making me really, really hold onto the things that I have".

"I built everything that was needed for [Emma and Misha] on their physical journey", said Sandefur.

Right away, she was one of the first people I thought of. Why did you want to tackle a space drama?

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Our Take: With Swank, a two-time Oscar victor, and the ever-excellent Charles as the show's leads, that ball of emotions and sentimental moments are in good hands. So far Swank's scenes have been more of drama than action.

As we have seen in the preview, in the near future (the precise year is not specified) humanity is ready to take a new and important step, that is, to bring the first humans to the red planet.

The key to the scene was making sure everything - from the design of the spaceship to the decisions the astronauts are making - don't stray too far into the realm of science fiction. "Parenthood" showrunner Jason Katims is on board as an executive producer. Things that happen in the show are things that have really happened.

"I've always had an interest in this", said Sandefur. Darlene's boss, George Lane (Brian Markinson), wants Emma replaced by her backup, the commander of the lunar base, but Darlene insists that Emma can still do the job. It doesn't help that some of them seem to embody stereotypes related to their country of origin, especially in the case of the Russian Misha (Mark Ivanir) and the Chinese Lu (Vivian Wu).

For the Atlas itself, he took inspiration from the technology used by both NASA and SpaceX (though not necessarily their actual designs). Even the crew's quarters having artificial gravity is rooted in research and proposals that have been made for real-life space travel. Nearly every scene with zero gravity - such as those in the common room on the Atlas - involves stunt work with the actors being on wires. "That's not typically what we're solicited to do".

Hinderaker recalled an early conversation with a source from NASA about the concept of the series and asked how soon a human mission to Mars would be possible with the adequate funds and global cooperation.

"He said, 'Oh, we could go tomorrow, '" explained Hinderaker. We refer, for example, to the evocative and well-shot spacewalk sequences, which are among the best moments of the show, albeit with a fairly predictable outcome.



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