SciFi Vision - Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Interview: Joel Kinnaman Talks Season Two of For All Mankind

Joel KinnamanFriday season two of For All Mankind premiered on Apple+. The series, which follows an alternate timeline of the space race, starts off season two ten years after the events in season one.

Recently, Joel Kinnaman, who stars as Edward Baldwin, took part in a round table discussion with journalists to talk about what’s coming for his character, the devastating loss Ed and his wife Karen (Shantel VanSanten) still deal with, and more.

Being in more of a leadership role this season will affect his relationships with the other astronauts. He told SciFi Vision, “It's always interesting that I can relate to that in my position as well, the more influence I get in different productions. Then, you have friends that also are actors and maybe looking for a job or struggling in a way, and you have the potential of providing that. There's always some weird tension that can arise if you don't deal with it in the right way when you become a potential employer or something, in those terms, to a friend.

Joel Kinnaman“I think that's something that Ed is going through as well, but I think he's a friend first and a flight director second, and I think you see that in some of the choices. He will definitely use his position to try to help the lives of his friends. So, there's definitely some nepotism going on.”

The actor also talked about what Ed has given up this season and how it’s changed him. “…Ed has made a sacrifice; he's sacrificed his passion of reaching further into space and to explore space. He's sacrificed that to be present with his family, and if anything was ever to happen to his family, he knows that he for damn sure is going to be there when it happens. So, this has created a different kind of person. At first, at least, it seems like he might even be happier or at peace, but I think there's always a trade off of giving up your dream and your passion, and being able to provide that security. That's sort of the story of Ed over the the second season, is that push and pull between his passion and his family.”

He also talked about some of the difficulties of playing the strong emotions this season and having VanSanten as a scene partner. “…One of the biggest challenges was definitely to be able to portray the chasm of emotion that I had to go through to somewhat believably portray that kind of loss and emotional devastation that Ed goes through. And, of course, we come in ten years later, but those wounds are still there. I've never been asked to portray something that demands that kind of emotional depth in a way, and I'm super grateful to have had Shantel as a scene partner in these scenes, because she just has such immense capability. She's just just such a powerful actor, and there's a certain kind of vibration that needs to happen. You have to lose control, in some sense, to be able to access to those kind of emotions. You have to lose yourself in it, and it's really hard to do alone. You can do it alone, but it's so much easier when you have a scene partner that really is right there with you and pushes you as well.

“So, we had a few experiences on this season that I think were some of my highlights of my career. So, the bigger the challenge, the bigger the reward it feels like when you're able to go through it, and that's how I felt personally about the challenge that I faced.”

For more, please read the full transcript below and be sure to tune into For All Mankind on Apple TV+.


Zoom Call
For All Mankind
Joel Kinnaman

February 1, 2021


QUESTION:  What has it been like to jump forward a decade in this season?

JOEL KINNAMAN:   One of the interesting aspects of shooting this show is that we get to do these time jumps, and all of a sudden, we have to fill in the blanks of what happened during these ten years. Of course, we leave Ed and Karen Baldwin, at the end of the first season, post the ultimate tragedy that a family can go through.

As an actor, portraying someone that's gone through that kind of a tragedy, that is the challenge that you're looking forward to. You're looking forward to sinking your teeth into that, but the sophistication of our writers, they take it one step further, and when ten years have passed, those wounds aren't right out on on the surface anymore, they've had time to subside.

Of course, you don't move on from something like that. You will always be the person before and after that happens, and so it's going to show itself in a different way. I think it's going to show itself in a way that you didn't expect, and I thought they did a fantastic job of portraying that. At first I was almost shocked reading the first scripts where we find Ed. He's on the ground; he seems to be at peace in a way that we haven't seen him before. We don't see much of his anger outbursts, and he almost seems to be happy. I found it almost provocative at first, but then as we moved along in the season, I thought it was just brilliant to portray him in that way.

QUESTION:  My first question is about this particular scene in the first episode where a younger subordinate comes to you asking for an opportunity. You're playing golf, and as you said, it is so unlike where we left you in the last season. Within that ten years, what happened to Edward to bring him to that space?

JOEL KINNAMAN:   In the end of the end of the first season, the Baldwin family goes through this ultimate tragedy, and Ed is also not there for Karen when they're going through it. Of course, he's isolated up on the moon, but he can't even be there for her when she's going through this whole ordeal.

So, what we're playing, is that Ed has made a sacrifice; he's sacrificed his passion of reaching further into space and to explore space. He's sacrificed that to be present with his family, and if anything was ever to happen to his family, he knows that he for damn sure is going to be there when it happens. So, this has created a different kind of person. At first, at least, it seems like he might even be happier or at peace, but I think there's always a trade off of giving up your dream and your passion, and being able to provide that security. That's sort of the story of Ed over the the second season, is that push and pull between his passion and his family.

SCIFI VISION:   Since this season Ed is in more of a leadership role, can you talk about how that will affect his friendships and relationships with the other astronauts?

JOEL KINNAMAN:   It's always interesting that I can relate to that in my position, the more influence I get in different productions. Then, you have friends that also are actors and maybe looking for a job or struggling in a way, and you have the potential of providing that. There's always some weird tension that can arise if you don't deal with it in the right way when you become a potential employer or something, in those terms, to a friend.

I think that's something that Ed is going through as well, but I think he's a friend first and a flight director second, and I think you see that in some of the choices. He will definitely use his position to try to help the lives of his friends. So, there's definitely some nepotism going on.

QUESTION:  Did you create the backstory for the missing basically ten years, or was it something you just kind of jumped in right from the first script and just ran with whatever the writers gave you?

JOEL KINNAMAN:   Over the course of being a part of this project, the relationship with the writers has been very good. Of course, I'll find some things that I want to improve or something that we could go a little deeper in, but I've been very, very impressed over the whole journey of this show with the writing. I find that they often have thought things through even further than I would have, even though I'm only focused on one character and they have twenty characters to focus on. It's a very impressive writers’ room. So, I come to them, and I'm just waiting to hear what they come up with, and I've stopped trying to be an originator of ideas when it comes to this. Sure, I'll bounce some ideas back and forth, but they're on such a high level here that I couldn't pretend to be of service in that way. The stuff that they come up with is just brilliant and so well thought through, and it's always so layered. They keep surprising us. They keep surprising me when they just take a path that I would have never seen coming. And if I don't see it coming, and I'm in the show, and I'm playing the character, I definitely don't think the audience is going to see it coming either. So, to answer your question, no, I listen to what they come up with.

QUESTION:  Do you think that in Ed's position in the second season, having had that seemingly on the down low relationship with McHale on the moon is an advantage for him in dealing with the Russians, or is it a disadvantage from his position?

JOEL KINNAMAN:   I don't know. I'd probably say an advantage. I don't know if it's an advantage or disadvantage, but he definitely sees the Russians as complete adversaries, and he has his mind made up of what the Soviets are, and he's definitely a little hawkish when it when it comes to to the Soviet Union. I think that comes from his experiences in the Korean War and moving forward. So yeah, in the season with the militarization of space, and also a militarization of NASA, then Ed is really standing with one foot in both camps here, because he came from the military. He's a veteran, but he's also head of the the head or the astronauts’ program, but I think that the military really will find sort of an ally in Ed there, and he definitely has some hawkish tendencies.

QUESTION:  I was just wondering what it's like creating a piece of entertainment that asks big questions and is really aspirational and is being released in a time when people are kind of down and need something to look up to.

Joel KinnamanJOEL KINNAMAN:   It feels really good. I think that space exploration in reality and as fiction is something that is aspirational and positive. I think I think it can give us inspiration to look further and to look deeper into space.

I wish that we would focus more of our attention to space exploration and give more funding to science to do these things. During the Cold War, when the race to the moon was so prevalent, we were putting almost 10% of the yearly budget into NASA, and there was a lot of pushback then. There are so many issues that we need to deal with on Earth, but that money isn't wasted, you know; we have GPS, cell phones, all this is a result of innovation that came during the space race. I think that we should strive to be a multiplanetary species, and I think the more time and effort and money we spend into reaching deeper into space will also develop technologies and innovate things that will help us back here. I think it's just a process that should be accelerated. So, to answer your question, it feels great to be part of a storytelling project that does that, that hopes to inspire to that.

QUESTION:  What was one of the biggest obstacles in playing the character? Because, like you said, he's so diverse.

JOEL KINNAMAN:   I think I'd phrase it like this: one of the biggest challenges was definitely to be able to portray the chasm of emotion that I had to go through to somewhat believably portray that kind of loss and emotional devastation that Ed goes through. And, of course, we come in ten years later, but those wounds are still there. I've never been asked to portray something that demands that kind of emotional depth in a way, and I'm super grateful to have had Shantel as a scene partner in these scenes, because she just has such immense capability. She's just just such a powerful actor, and there's a certain kind of vibration that needs to happen. You have to lose control, in some sense, to be able to access to those kind of emotions. You have to lose yourself in it, and it's really hard to do alone. You can do it alone, but it's so much easier when you have a scene partner that really is right there with you and pushes you as well.

So, we had a few experiences on this season that I think were some of my highlights of my career. So, the bigger the challenge, the bigger the reward it feels like when you're able to go through it, and that's how I felt personally about the challenge that I faced.

Latest Articles