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'Lost in Space' star Mina Sundwall says isolation expedited kids' maturity

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'Lost in Space' star Mina Sundwall says isolation expedited kids' maturity
"Lost in Space," starring Max Jenkins (L) and Mina Sundwall, returns Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Netflix

NEW YORK, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Mina Sundwall says the kids are alright, but growing up fast, when Season 3 of the family sci-fi adventure series, Lost in Space, premieres Wednesday on Netflix.

The show follows Maureen Robinson (Molly Parker) and her husband John (Toby Stephens) as they lead a group of survivors -- including their kids Penny (Sundwall,) Judy (Taylor Russell) and Will (Maxwell Jenkins) -- on a dangerous journey to colonize a new planet after a cataclysmic event on Earth.

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It is loosely based on the 1960s TV show of the same name and Johann David Wyss' 19th-century novel, Swiss Family Robinson.

Season 2 of the latest incarnation of the tale ended with the children and their parents off course, on separate spaceships with dwindling resources and fleeing killer robots.

"There is a time jump, so it's been a year of them having to face these challenges of living on their own without the support system of John and Maureen, which is the support system of their parents, but also the support system of a Navy Seal and a rocket scientist," Sundwall told UPI in a recent phone interview. "It really expedited their maturity."

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Because Judy is the ship's captain, she is responsible for 97 children, which takes its toll on her and strains her relationships with her siblings.

"Penny and Judy go head-to-head because it is difficult as a teenager who is finding her independence to take orders, especially from her sister," Sundwall said.

"Because they have been in the same place for a year, they've fallen into a routine when we first see them, which I think is quite interesting because it is rare that the Robinsons are ever in a routine."

The kids are trying to make the best lives they can for themselves while they work toward reuniting with their parents and ultimately reaching their final destination of a habitable planet in the Alpha Centauri system.

"They just want to go home. They're done," Sundwall laughed.

The actress began to work on the show five years ago when she was 15. Playing Penny has allowed her to explore drama, comedy, action and just about everything in-between. She said the experience has taught her a lot about how to develop a good work ethic, collaborate with a team and care about the details of the story.

"It was the biggest set I've ever stepped on with [special] effects I'd never done and stunts I'd never seen done in front of me," she said. "It's been really special to grow up as the character is growing up."

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Jenkins, 16, also got the chance to evolve at the same rate Will does on screen.

"We wanted to show that Will Robinson was just like a normal kid," Jenkins said in a phone interview.

"We wanted to take him on that hero's journey. In the first season, he starts out as a scared little kid and then, through every crazy, wild event that our writers have written for us, he finishes the series as a young adult."

Will is under a lot of pressure to solve the technological problems that arise at the beginning of Season 3. Having to answer to big sister Judy doesn't make his life any easier.

"He's making his own decisions and dealing with those consequences," Jenkins said.

"They aren't really connecting on the same level as they did when they had their parents to be leaders," Jenkins added. "He has a hard time asking for help. He has a hard time opening up to his family about his problems. He thinks it's up to him to save the world."

Appearing together for a joint Zoom chat, Parker, Stephens and Serricchio told UPI they are satisfied with how their characters wrapped up in this final season.

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But they are holding out hope there might be more missions for the Robinson family in the future.

"I certainly have mixed feelings about getting to the end of this story," Parker said.

"It doesn't feel as if these people's lives are over. I think we leave them in a place where there is an incredible amount of potential for adventures to come. I love working with this group so much. [Ending] was bittersweet, for sure."

"I think what's good is leaving an audience wanting more and I think that this does that," Stephens added.

Serricchio would love to see his spaceship mechanic, Don West, and his pet chicken, Debbie, get a Lost in Space spinoff.

"We don't know enough," Serricchio said. "I want to know where this guy is from. I want to know his background."

Stephens thinks the Robinsons' tale has endured for as long as it has because it is steeped in emotional authenticity, with the resourceful Robinsons' frontier adventures a metaphor for everyone's family's journey through life.

"Not only do we go through the bumps of just normal things happening, but also all our children growing up and becoming their own people," he said. "It is really aspirational. They all have their faults, as we all do, but they are all trying to be better people."

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