After successful projects like The Handmaid’s Tale and The Looming Tower, Hulu is back with an astronaut drama, The First, set to be released on September 14. While Natascha McElhone plays Laz Ingram, the C.E.O. of Vista, a space-travel company, starring opposite her is two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn. The plot centers around a mission to colonize Mars, and the astronauts and scientists involved in it. Although Sean Penn has made brief appearances on TV on shows like Friends and Two and a Half Men, this is going to be his first major role on TV. Penn stars as one of the main astronauts, Tom Haggerty, who assists Laz with said mission.
Series’s creator Beau Willimon, known for House of Cards has avoided the cliché of a powerful and intimidating female lead and instead has made Laz more human, and a little awkward, despite being a strong character.
I love Beau’s bravery of putting a central character in the piece who has a lot of authority and power, but doesn’t necessarily carry that. – Natascha McElhone
The eight-part limited series is set in New Orleans in 2031, and also stars LisaGay Hamilton, Oded Fehr, James Ransone, and Hannah Ware, who play a team of scientists on this ambitious quest. It is not only going to deal with the struggles of the astronauts sent to Mars, but also the communicating team on earth, their families, their hardships, a sci-fi series with a more humanistic approach than most.
McElhone has read a bunch of books in preparation for her role, delving deep into space-travel related research. The actors even met and had discussions about it with real astronauts. McElhone even seems confident about her knowledge on space-travel now and has mentioned of going on a space-exploration with friends. “I feel fully equipped now,” she said with a laugh.