In an exclusive interview with Villain Media, Jodi Balfour, Sarah Jones, Sonya Walger, and Krys Marshall talk about their Apple TV+ drama, For All Mankind. Find out what happens when a group of female astronauts decide to stamp their own marks into the course of history.
The alternate reality/space drama is created by Ronald D. Moore, Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi. Imagine a world where the global space race never ended; in which the USSR beats the US to the moon. Now NASA astronauts, engineers and their families find themselves in the center of extraordinary events.
Before the seventh episode premieres on Apple TV+ November 29th 2019, the cast of For All Mankind take part in a roundtable discussion. Here at Villain Media, we enjoy speaking with actors/actresses about their craft and the process they take to bring a character to life. Join us as we discuss the essential question, “How did For All Mankind change you as an artist?”
Ellen Waverly (Jodi Balfour) pursues her love of flying and adventure. Instead of participating a “dignified” profession worthy of her social status, much to her parents’ chagrin, Ellen (Balfour) is gifted as a pilot. Ellen’s her true talent is reading the people around her and getting the best out of them.
How did the experience working on For All Mankind change her? Balfour responded, “I don’t know if it changed me as an artist, but it certainly taught me a whole lot as a human being. One of my favorite things about acting, is the acquisition of knowledge. It’s learning things prior to a job I didn’t know. Up until 2019, I didn’t know a thing about space significantly. I was so ignorant. It wasn’t a major interest for me beyond what we learned in school. I didn’t know much at all.”
“Just to make sense of the world we’re occupying on the show, what’s coming out of my mouth sometimes, I generally like the divide between the things the character knows, what I myself don’t know. All of that has been fun and absolutely fascinating! It’s an exciting thing I have to do for my job!”
Tracy Stevens (Sarah Jones) struggles with her role as an astronaut’s wife. At times, there are sacrifices required to male. Underneath her demure exterior, Tracy (Jones) has the ambition and toughness to peruse her own path.
Jones mentioned how the camaraderie and support has been special, “I don’t know if that necessarily changed me as an artist, but I cherish it tremendously. I think it enhances the idea that when you are within a cast of people that are kind, respectful, and supportive of each other, there’s more room to take risks. And that’s much more exciting and fulfilling on the job!”
“I think there were some notes in Tracy’s storyline and my personal life that were borderline eerie. I was like “All right! Are the writers tapping into my phone? What’s going on here?’”
Jones said, “Exploring that and coming at it honestly as I could, left me pretty raw at times. I don’t know if it changed me, but I pulled it off. If the ones watching it, feel the rawness as well, then it’s something I’ll continue doing. I suppose having an outlet, a sort of cathartic, healthy outlet, where I have to get paid at the same time, is quite a blessing.”
Molly Cobb (Sonya Walger) is an astronaut candidate who finished among top of her class. As one of three astronauts, Molly (Walger) has been selected for the Apollo 15 mission.
Walger responded, “Well, I never had to do wirework in a spacesuit before! I think it may have changed me physically! [Laughs] It changed me in that way. I never had to do anything as physical as this role. Taking on that challenge and meeting it, finding ways to deal with it has been really great! I had to dig deep. I have genuinely not loved some of it. But I loved at the end of the day feeling like ‘Wow! I did that! And I didn’t spend a day wearing heels, holding a clipboard, and nodding while a man spoke beautifully at me!’
“I spent a day swinging from a rope, pretending I’m on the moon. And that’s an amazing opportunity as a woman of 45, in this stage of my career!”
Marshall added, “With flying colors by the way!”
Walger continued, “Bless you! I think in that way, the show has changed me and opened my eyes to what I’m capable of doing. ”
Danielle Poole (Krys Marshall) is an excellent engineer. She also happens to be an astronaut candidate.
Mashall answered, “For me, I think the show changed me so much; definitely as an artist, and also as an actor in the industry. I think the last two to three years have been real topsy-turvy for the industry, for both women and entertainment people behind-the-scenes. Actually, this is the first time I ever felt like my voice truly held weight.”
“In my past experiences, they were all lovely productions but I never felt I could speak up to something I didn’t like, to a scene that didn’t speak true to my character. I think that is a testament to the environment that our showrunner and producers created. I think it’s about the way our cast engages with one another. We have an amazing group of directors who have created environments where it’s okay to speak up and say, ‘Hey you know what! Can we talk for about this for the next 10 minutes? I don’t feel good about this.’”
Mashall continued, “For me, whether this show carries on for seasons on seasons, what I take from this experience has been empowerment. I’m allowed to step into that power and say, ‘This feels good; this doesn’t.’ And for that, I am forever grateful for the experience and for the show.”
An all-new episode of For All Mankind can be seen on Apple TV+.
[Writer’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Links are highlighted in bold.]