For All Mankind star Joel Kinnaman talks about the progression of his character, Ed Baldwin, in season 2 and works with a more emotional arc.
The acclaimed Apple TV + original series For all mankind, which shows an alternate timeline in which the Soviet Union beat America to the moon, causing the Space Race to continue well into the 1980s, returns for a second season. Among the astronauts who have settled into a leadership role after the time jump between seasons is Ed Baldwin, played by returning star Joel Kinnaman (The suicide squad). And as the Cold War intensifies and expands into outer space and the lunar surface, Ed must have unresolved issues at home from the previous season with his wife Karen (Shantel VanSanten).
In an exclusive interview with CBR, Kinnaman teases where season 2 and its long jump in time has led Ed, the difficult honesty of delving into the season’s emotionally raw sequences and portraying a significantly older iteration of his character. .
With Season 2, we’re nine years ahead of the last time we saw your character at the end of Season 1, and Ed has become something of an elderly statesman. How did you approach that change?
Joel Kinnaman: It was interesting! It’s interesting to play an older version of a character; being fifty years old was a journey. I feel a little heavier and that you are the person people turn to for advice. I was having a lot of fun with it, to be honest. Throughout the experience on this show, it has been a pleasure to read the scripts when they arrive. I feel like it’s always been sophisticated, and it just doesn’t take the obvious path. At the end of the first season, we leave Ed and Karen having the final tragedy that a family can go through and the next we see them at the beginning of the second season, it’s ten years later, but you still have that tragedy on your mind. Ten years later, the wounds are not on the surface, [they’re] it’s not going to come out of the obvious. It was great; it was fun.
While Ed and Karen were worlds apart in the last season, now you’re in the same room. What is it like having Shantel VanSanten as a stage partner to explore that pain and unresolved pain this time?
Kinnaman: It has been a real blessing working with Shantel, especially dealing with these kinds of emotions. They are some of the most difficult things that you can be asked to perform as an actor. It is a kind of supreme tragedy and the heightened intensity of those emotions that need to be portrayed. And I think the audience will see it right away when it’s fake, when someone hides their face or just starts shaking their shoulders. You have to get there to represent this, and when I play something like this, I feel like I have an obligation, and this is something in my own mind, to anyone who has been through this; to portray it in some credible way.
But it’s really hard to do it on your own, and Shantel has immense access to those kinds of feelings. I don’t know what she’s been through in her life, but it wasn’t always easy because she has real access to those deeper emotions. It was really helpful and we motivated each other to get to those places where everyone we worked with felt like we had gotten where we needed to go. It gives the whole story the weight it deserves.
You have been in the shoes of this character for more than a decade of his life. What was something you really wanted to bring her for season 2?
Kinnaman: Just to see how it has evolved. When ten years have passed, you have almost become a different person; If you think of yourself ten years ago, you are almost like a different human being and all your cells have been replaced, then you are, in effect, a different person. [Laughs] But the experience of those ten years, what has that left you, and then you launch a Cold War, where every action that this character performs could trigger a world war, is something interesting!
I am always guided by the writers here, and they are very sophisticated and don’t always choose the obvious path; they very rarely choose the obvious path. It’s really been the strength of this show, how well the characters’ journeys are written. And it becomes even more important when we are taking these big leaps in time; You really have to be inventive, thoughtful and insightful to portray these types of trips.
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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