Krys Marshall (L) and Joel Kinnaman will be seen in Season 3 of "For All Mankind," starting Friday. Photo courtesy of Apple TV+
NEW YORK, June 10 (UPI) -- Joel Kinnaman and Krys Marshall say their NASA astronaut characters, Ed Baldwin and Danielle Poole, aren't initially keen on the concept of privatized space travel in Season 3 of For All Mankind.
Set in the early 1990s, Season 3 of the alternate-history drama debuts on Apple TV+ Friday. It opens with Ed and Danielle attending a friend's wedding at a posh space hotel owned by Ed's ex-wife, Karen (Shantel VanSanten).
"He is cautiously skeptical. He doesn't think regular people should be shooting off into space because they don't have training," Kinnaman told UPI about Ed in a recent phone interview.
"Space tourism? Come on! That's like surgeon tourism. You can't casually do something as serious as this," Marshall said.
"The Helio thought process and their ideology is categorically different than the NASA ideology," she added, referring to the tech company that buys the hotel from Karen after a high-profile mishap.
"NASA very much believes in 'have a hypothesis, test it, have a hypothesis, test it.' The scientific method. Test it again and again and again until we can get it right, and the mistakes they make hurt. Lives are at stake."
Danielle has seen several pioneer friends die due to errors made in space, and it has made her wary of Helio's preoccupation with comfort, luxury and aesthetics instead of safety and troubleshooting.
"She knows what the consequences are when you are not prepared, when you make mistakes or when you rush." Marshall said.
"The Helio process is the exact opposite: 'Let's get it. Let's be the first, no matter what the cost.' They believe in meals catered by Wolfgang Puck, whereas the NASA folks are eating beige gruel. We've definitely got a different set of focuses."
Despite his misgivings about her latest adventures, Ed supports Karen through her transformation from housewife to successful bar owner and ultimately sky hotelier.
"Even though they are divorced and Ed has a new wife, Karen is still his life partner in so many ways," Kinnaman explained.
"He's always going to have her back," he said. "In the past 10 years, she has completely reinvented herself and come into her own.
"She was stuck in the shadow of Ed and the shadow of their grief over [their son] Shane and she understood that she needed to go a different path and to break free of the shackles that were her previous life.
"That could have been a great life, but it ended up being a prison."
Ed and Karen also still are grieving their friends, Tracy and Gordo Stevens (Sarah Jones and Michael Dorman), who died on the moon in Season 2, leaving behind two grown sons that the Baldwins and Poole look after.
"One of the most fascinating things for me as an actor for the third season was the relationship between Ed and Danny," Kinnaman said about the elder Stevens child (Casy Johnson), who is an astronaut, as well.
"In the fairy tale version of the world, Danny becomes Ed's son since Danny and Shane were best friends. Shane dies and then Gordo, who is Ed's best friend, dies," the actor said.
"Of course, Ed will take in his son as his son, but we don't live in a fantasy world in For All Mankind. It's more complicated than that. Danny just views Ed very differently and Karen even more differently," he said, referring to how Danny is in love with Karen and views Ed as a rival for her affections even though they are no longer married.
"It bodes for very good drama," Kinnaman said, about how the writers excel at unpredictable "sharp left turns."
Conflict also exists this season between Ed and Danielle, who are vying to be the first crew leader to lead a mission to Mars.
"They've sacrificed for each other and they love each other and then here [in Season 3], their ambitions are on a collision course," Kinnaman said.
"That competition doesn't bring out the best in either of them. But their relationship and their friendship goes a lot deeper than the specifics of this competition. He's lost his son, he's lost his wife, so what does he have left? His legacy."
Marshall disagrees, saying she thinks the rivalry pushes them to be the best versions of themselves.
"Their competition doesn't allow either of them to backslide," she said, noting how she and Kinnaman work this way together on the show, too.
"That is mirrored in our relationship .... We are these two people who are holding opposite sides of a rope like a game of tug of war. We are both pulling on it, and that tension is very tangible and makes for better storytelling."
While Ed's personal life might be a bit of a mess this season -- his latest new wife doesn't stick around for long -- Danielle is seen enjoying domestic bliss with a new husband and stepson.
"Our writers are really good about giving Danielle a lovely love life and snatching it away from her," the actress said, with a nod to the Season 1 Vietnam veteran husband she lost to suicide while she was on the moon's Jamestown colony.
"This year was similar. We finally see that she has healed her heart, and now is a wife again after being widowed and a step-mom after never having kids and then it is all going to be taken away from her again when she heads off to Mars," Marshall said. "Poor Danielle. She can't catch a break."
Taking a NASA crew to Mars -- and beating Ed for the honor -- is a pretty good consolation prize, the actress conceded.
"We get little glimmers of Danielle nerding out throughout the season," she said. "There is this fanatical admiration for space and so, as difficult as it is to leave behind her husband and son, she also feels very much like she has bigger fish to fry.
"She's also religious. We see her with the Bible and referencing the Bible. I think she feels like there is a higher purpose for her to go and to explore the universe and discover life on another planet.
"This is more important than her need to be comfortable at home in Houston."