“The trajectory is just never one that you can predict… as a performer, you kind of have to surrender to that”: Krys Marshall on season three of For All Mankind
Apple TV+ original sci-fi series For All Mankind – one that has been with the streaming platform from the very beginning of its launch – is back for a third season, and this time it’s more than just the moon they’re exploring. Set in an alternate universe where Russia makes the first moon landing, sparking a series of new events that accelerate space science and technology, Season 3 pushes time forward by ten years and reintroduces the audience to the same characters with a renewed sense of purpose. For All Mankind also boasts a star-studded cast including Joel Kinnaman, Shantel Van Santen, Jodi Balfour and Krys Marshall.
Expanding the world of For All Mankind beyond just the moon is not an easy feat, as Marshall (who plays Danielle Poole, stiff competition for Kinnaman’s Edward Baldwin) will tell you. The Upcoming caught up with her in lieu of the third season’s release this June to discuss everything she learned about space through working on the show, her thoughts on the development of her character across the series, and what to expect from Danielle and Edward in this new season.
What’s your favourite part about returning to this series, and this cast and crew in particular?
I think my love for this show is probably equal parts the story that we tell – which is so beautiful, so out of this world, pun intended – and the people. We jokingly call ourselves FAMily – For All Mankind family – and that’s a 100% the case; whether it’s getting together for birthday parties and barbecues, or texting each other “what are you going to wear to this thing?”, we’re just really, really close. And I think that that closeness that we have with each other translates into the work: it’s so much easier to be daring, to be bold, to tell these really complicated and very vulnerable stories, when you know that you’re surrounded by folks who have your back.
Without any spoilers, how would you describe where Danielle Poole is at the beginning of this season?
In the beginning of season one, our introduction to Danielle is a girl who is so shy; she walks into this astronaut candidate classroom and can barely even get her name out when she introduces herself to Tracy. In season two, we see Danielle is broken in many ways – she’s just lost her husband to suicide and she has not been back in Jamestown in many years. We’re watching Danielle kind of begin to find her footing, and, throughout that season, reclaim her time. At the start of season three, we see the evolution of that Danielle. She was in many ways a little caterpillar in season one, and now she’s a full-fledged butterfly. We see a woman who is strong, confident and a leader in NASA. She has been the commander of many, many missions since we saw her last in season two, and she is very much Ed Baldwin’s best friend, but also his stiff competition.
How do you feel as an actress, seeing that journey? Do you relate to her journey or the development that she’s been through?
That’s exactly how I feel – I feel like Danielle is much like me when I came into this experience. I’ve never been on a show that was running for this long before, so I – Krys – learned so many new things. It wasn’t easy to play, but it was easy in many ways, because Danielle and I shared that experience. And so now, I’m coming into the third season feeling like I have the home court advantage. I now get to see guest actors, or actors who play smaller roles, come along and I get to shepherd them and say, “Hey, welcome to For All Mankind, we’re so happy to have you here.” I think seeing Danielle sort of rule the roost has been really cool, and it’s also been my experience as an actor.
There are very large time gaps in time between each season. Do you find it difficult trying to piece things together when returning to the series and stepping into a character whose journey for the past decade hasn’t been seen?
This show is unlike any other show in that very rarely does an actor get to play someone in their 20s, and then 30s, and then 40s. I barely recognise myself from ten years ago; I’m just constantly evolving. There is a lot of work when you receive the first episodes of the new season, trying to figure out what happened from when we last saw her in 2×10, to when we see her for the first time in 3×01. Our writers are amazing, and what I love about what they do is that they don’t tell a linear story. When we last see Danielle at the end of season one, she’s back in Houston and reconciling things with her husband. No one expected – I certainly didn’t – that Clayton would’ve killed themself in the time between season and two. I assumed that she’d be on top of the world at the start of season. The trajectory is just never one that you can predict, and I think, as a performer, you kind of have to surrender to that and know, “I can’t control what happened in the time between. All I can do is get the script when I get it and start to fill in the blanks.”
How do you prepare for the move into a new point of Danielle’s life, while maintaining the essence of her that many have known and fallen in love with in the previous seasons?
There’s always a little bit of fear when you come back in – like, “Oh man, do I still have it? Do I still have the accent? Do I still have the movement? Is she still in me?”. Of course, you get the script and you work on that. One of the things that I love about our show is that we always do table reads. Many shows don’t have the time to do table reads, but we make time to do table reads. Once we’re all back together in that space – for the last year it’s been over Zoom, but even with just Zoom – when you hear the other performers, you get to be in that energy, and when you start feeding off of one another, it’s just like riding a bike. It comes back pretty quickly.
This series, of course, takes place in an alternate universe, but there are parts of real-life history that remain intact. Do you do any research before coming into a new season – into the history of that decade and any relevant events?
There’s so much research that you can do, but then there’s so much that you also can’t do. In our story, Teddy Kennedy becomes president which never happened in real life [because of a] series of events. There are some things about our world that you can research, of course – the political players that are involved, and how politics played into the space program – but then there’s so much that you can’t research; like, in our world, the Beatles are all alive and well, John never got shot and they’re still on tour. But what we can do and what we can research is a lot of the science and the technology. I owe a lot of that responsibility to our technical advisors, Denise Okuda and her husband, and also Garrett Reisman, who is a former NASA astronaut himself. Those guys are amazing and they help make sure that, no matter what we do, the science of it all makes sense and that the research is always solid.
Speaking of the science, do you feel like you’ve learned a lot about space science and its history during this project? Has it affected your real-life views on modern space exploration?
I’ve learned and I’m also totally, still, completely overwhelmed. I think it’s almost like the more you learn, the more you realise what you don’t know. I think, before starting this show, I thought I had a general idea of how the world worked. It’s no secret that in our series we make it to Mars. One of the things that we talked about with the VFX team is about building our sky. I said in my interview in a podcast, “But why can’t we just use some of the stuff that we used from the moon – can’t we use some of that CGI?”. And they said “No, because the moon does not have an atmosphere, whereas Mars does have an atmosphere that’s very similar to Earth’s atmosphere.” These are the sort of things where, like, I just hadn’t thought about it until then and there, and you’re playing the story and we talk about how there’s wind on Mars and there’s weather systems on Mars, and that doesn’t happen on the moon. And so, yeah, I’ve learned a tonne, yet I also still feel like a little baby when it comes to my understanding of how the universe works.
You talked earlier about Ed and Danielle’s dynamic. How’s your chemistry with Joel Kinnaman?
Joel’s great. We have a really fun friendship; it’s filled with competition and there’s rivalry there. We became pretty close when we were doing the Hi Bob episode in season one. Joel, Michael and I spent.. I think it was like 16 days, shooting in this set that was four walls, roof and ceiling, and couldn’t have been more than 150 square feet. It didn’t require much acting because we were in a cramped space; we became friends fast. I adore Joel – I really love working with him. I think one of the things I admire about him is that he is incredibly committed to this work, and takes his work very seriously, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He really knows how to have a good time, and he’s a very giving scene partner. Joel’s dynamic with me is very similar to Ed’s dynamic with Danielle – and we’re going to see more of that dynamic be challenged throughout season three.
For All Mankind: Season Three is released on Apple TV+ on 10th June 2022.
Watch the trailer for For All Mankind: Season Three here: