Shantel VanSanten talks about exploring the unresolved emotional side of her character, Karen Baldwin, in For All Mankind Season 2.
The first season of the acclaimed Apple TV + original series For all mankind put his main partner Ed and Karen Baldwin through the emotional wringer. While balancing the family demands that Ed be a prominent figure in the Space Race, the astronaut’s family lost their young son Shane in a tragic accident while Ed was stationed on the moon. Picking up nine years after Ed’s return to Earth, For all mankind Season 2 shows the couple still together, but not without their marital challenges in the face of their unresolved grief as the shadow of the Cold War looms even more over the American space program.
In an exclusive interview with CBR, Shantel VanSanten talked about where the nine-year time jump resumes with Karen, talked about working with Joel Kinnaman as her on-screen husband, and how the time jump will not easily solve the difficulties of the couple.
In the first half of season 1, Karen shows a brave face and a unified front for the astronaut wives before that facade begins to crack. What is it like to find that progressive emotional depth when entering the season 2 time jump?
Shantel VanSanten: Yes, I was lucky that in season 1 we had that 4-5 year jump to prepare a little for the nine year jump ahead. It’s very interesting to jump into new seasons because there are gaps to fill and obviously we saw Karen have this big bow which was exactly what you said – everything she was holding was so dear and so tight that it completely fell apart in her hands, And it does not matter. how much control he tried to have, he lost. So as Season 2 started, I remembered thinking, “Where are we going? Nine years later, where will she be and what will happen?” And it surprised me. It was very surprising and I can’t wait to hear everyone’s reactions.
But I don’t think we’ll ever lose the story of the middle nine years and it unfolds slowly and we get bits of what happened in between. There was a small part of me that was upset that no one could see the little things that were on my mind, and I remember that it was three weeks before I started: I have a notebook and I only wrote memories for Karen. And I can’t reveal much, but relating where we last left her and where we found her was a really fun creative process for me to be able to share with some of the writers, the things she went through and other things. that the audience was lost, it was the little Easter eggs that I laid.
Your character starts to regress a lot towards her husband Ed at the end of season 1 and that definitely continues into season 2. What is it like working with Joel Kinnaman as a scene partner?
VanSanten: It was a lot of fun being married in season 1 and never seeing your husband, but that was his life! In season 2, we get to explore much more of their marriage and see us together much more; Season 1 was basically modern FaceTime while [Ed] was on the lunar surface and the limitations of NASA and [space] program about your relationship; Season 2 is really different. I love Joel, we play great together and come to the table with ideas. I feel lucky to have more in-person scenes with him in season 2.
In season 1, Karen and Ed endure a great tragedy at home and there is still a lot of unresolved pain. What’s it like to explore that in season 2?
VanSanten: I was really worried that we would lose watching the grieving process, but what’s really interesting is that grief never ends. I have lost a lot of people in my life and the pain comes in waves. Change and transform. And just because we pick up nine years later doesn’t mean they have been fully processed, and there are things that have yet to discover and go through together. There was a part of me that was afraid that we would miss that chapter, and we are not; in fact, we explore it in a really beautiful way. We think it’s been nine years [and] they’ve gotten over it, but [they’re] no.
There is a beautiful line that they have where they say “There is BC and AD and the dividing line is Shane’s death”, and that is their life now: there was before with Shane and now. And that’s an interesting thing to explore, this big cut in their heart and their relationship. I’m very grateful that we don’t normally see stories that explore something after so long.
Created by Ronald D. Moore, Matt Wolpert, and Ben Nedivi, For All Mankind stars Joel Kinnaman, Michael Dorman, Sarah Jones, Shantel VanSanten, Wrenn Schmidt, Jodi Balfour, Krys Marshall, Sonya Walger, Cynthy Wu, Coral Peña, and Casey. W. Johnson. Season 2 premieres on Apple TV + on February 19.
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