LOST IN SPACE Season 1 Scoop: Interview With Taylor Russell And Executive Producers Matt Sazama And Burk Sharpless
Netflix’s new drama series LOST IN SPACE is an instant classic. Not only is it based on the 1965 series of the same name, beloved by science fiction fans across the globe, Netflix’s LOST IN SPACE is an amazing spectacle to behold. Having spared no expense, Netflix’s reimagining is simply glorious — from its stellar casting to its spectacular scenery and eye-popping cinematography — LOST IN SPACE is a space-adventurer series for the entire family. Focused on the tight-knit family of the Robinsons and a few of the colorful space-adventurers that they encounter after their spaceship crash lands on an undiscovered planet, LOST IN SPACE smartly focuses on the love and bonds that draw them closer in the face of unrelenting danger. While at this year’s WonderCon in Anaheim, the cast and creators took the time to share a bit more about their daring and adventure-filled series. In a press interview, creators and executive producers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, along with star Taylor Russell talked about her character, Judy Robinson, and the jaw-dropping adventures of the Robinsons.
The look and scale of the show is impressive. What did you base it on or use for inspiration?
BURK: I think something that we want to create for this show is to have like a real sort of Steven Spielberg temporal experience. To have the TV show that really did feel like a movie, like the kind of movie that you see in the summer, that you remember from growing up, like ET or Jurassic Park. And that was a big challenge. A huge challenge, which Taylor can speak to, like long hours wearing a space suit, very difficult sets, very demanding shoot, a lot of special effects, being on location. So it was basically like filming like a huge Hollywood movie. So it was a huge, epic production.
TAYLOR: The show is gigantic. That’s really the word to describe it. And it’s amazing because we had these days where you’re wearing these spacesuit, and they’re really, really heavy. And you have no idea what it’s going to look like on a green screen. It kind of all seems like, “what is happening right now?” And then you see the results of it, and it is like nothing you could have ever pictured. And it is so worth all of the hours of uncomfortableness and uncomfortability and any of the trouble that you went through because it’s such a beautiful show — visually and in every aspect. It really blew my mind when I watched it because the CGI and all, everything — it’s incredible.
BURK: Yeah, we really have never seen anything like this on TV. It’s a first. I mean and you get to the later episodes, in particular, and you see things that you’ve never seen on a TV show. It feels a lot more like going to see an expensive Marvel movie.
TAYLOR: That’s true.
What was it like working withthe green screen and stuff like that?
TAYLOR: A lot of people think it’s challenging, and it is in some ways, but you just have to lean into it, really lean into it, and hopefully be lucky enough to be with a group of people that make you feel comfortable to play to that extreme.
BURK: Taylor had one of the most challenging parts in the pilot where she’s in the ice. So she had the camera right there, and we set up a rig where she went up underneath it. It’s such an exposed and naked performance that she gives. It’s so extraordinary. It’s absolutely extraordinary. Like there’s nothing between the audience and her direct emotion. Seeing it on screen is like, it almost ends up being the most intense thing. I mean, it’s even more intense than I though it was going to be. The final scene is extraordinary.
MATT: Just to keep complementing you, not only are you a great actor, but to talk about the green screen stuff, in the pilot you said there’s a swimming sequence, that was all done on wires on the green screen. There’s no water in that particular scene. That was all Taylor training for days, weeks on that rig to make it look like she was swimming. Where literally ,it’s the green screen and guys wearing creepy green outfits, pulling her along on strings as you had to do this incredible and physical job to sell that thing. It was all fake. Except for Taylor’s performance and her athleticism.
BURK: And it makes it look so real. See, talk about challenges, I think in some ways she’s like the queen of the challenging episode. Like nobody had to work as intensely as she did.
The family dynamic is really what sells your show. I mean, it looks magnificent, but if we don’t feel something for these characters, we’re not going to keep watching. I was struck by how quickly the family unit became something I really wanted to be a part of, almost like, “Oh, wow, that’s my family. I want to be there.” So how did you guys cultivate that kind of chemistry? Words on a page don’t do it, it’s got to be sold, somehow.
TAYLOR: I think the base of what they created was enough for us to run with. They put together a really great cast who — I mean, we all have a lot of chemistry — I think our love for each other really shows in the show. But I do think it is a lot about the writing, as well. I think it’s a combination of both. I think it’s writing and our relationship.
BURK: Was there any particular moment during shooting the first episode where you guys suddenly felt like you were a family? Was there any scene where like, oh my god, we are the Robinsons.
TAYLOR: The scene where we were all at our round table.
MATT: That’s the opening shot.
TAYLOR: I remember the moment we sat down. We were all looking at each other because we’re at this round table, wearing our space suits, and it is, “Okay, this is it. This is us, we’re the best.” Because you know you have to be a family, you let your barriers down, and you actually build a love that would be different from anybody else on set because you know you’re supposed to be a family unit.
I found silence amongst the family was much more comfortable and accepting and kind of warm than you might expect on a televised show, and it wasn’t orchestrated, it seemed like you guys would naturally turn your back on somebody and do something while you’re talking or not talking. So I found that to be an effective way to communicate as families don’t always say things to each other, they just do things around each other.
MATT: I will say there is something that you can’t write for or plan, which is just the alchemy of people together and from the very beginning watching Taylor with everyone else in the family, they felt like they actually like each other off-screen. They had this connection, which, we just got really lucky, and we’re so thankful because, while Taylor is a great actor, but there are things you can’t fake — which is the fact that they all had a really great time making this stuff and cared about each other. And that actually was real.
It’s just something I picked up on as I realized I was not hearing words that were telling me anything. I was just watching that emotion. And I thought, well, that’s not just looking at something beautiful like a scenery scene, it’s this family just organically moving together. So that was kind of captured my attention.
BURK: That’s great.
MATT: It’s the number one thing that Burk and I talked about when we were first doing the show was that if, you had to love the family and wanted to be a member of the family, that’s what the whole show is. The special effects don’t matter. They’re great and we’re very proud of them. But if we can accomplish that, then we’ve done our job.
You also incorporated Doctor Smith and Don West and the robot very intimately into this family, and almost seamlessly, which is not easy to do. That’s the warmth of this family, and, again, it wasn’t just the core family. We’re introduced to people and they brought them in so, again, seamlessly into that warm environment. It made you believe that the robot wanted to be there or believe that Doctor Smith really wanted to be somehow integrated into that family unit. And even Don West — he can’t help but gravitate to be around them.
BURK: It’s noting that the original LOST IN SPACE has that — because in the context of its time, people felt that connection to the family and the dynamics of Will and his dad and some of the key scenes in the original show. So one of the things that we wanted to do was to channel that and make a version of it that we, as writers, related to and that the actors could relate to. There’s a particular kind of intense connection you feel when you’re with somebody who you both need to help keep you alive, but who’s also a family member. And everybody has sort of pushed to that limit. There’s a specific sort of place that you go that’s really raw but really connected, and I think that was one of the tonal things that we were trying to create, and it was amazing to see it come together.
To see how the Robinsons fare in the face of terrifying obstacles and seemingly impossible circumstances, be sure to check out LOST IN SPACE when it premieres on Friday, April 13th on Netflix. Prepare to fall under its mesmerizing spell as you will quickly binge-watch the entire first season and then will want to tell everyone you know all about it!