Home is far ‘Away’ for Hilary Swank in Netflix space saga

Two-time Oscar winner travels to Mars in Netflix drama

Hilary Swank, Josh Charles and Talitha Bateman star in “Away,” premiering Friday on Netflix.

Space may not be the final frontier for Hilary Swank, but it certainly is her next one.

The two-time Oscar winner heads the cast as her character leads a mission to Mars in “Away,” a Netflix drama series that begins streaming Friday, Sept. 4. Crossing the cosmos with an international crew means being away from her husband (“The Good Wife” alum Josh Charles) and teenage daughter (Talitha Bateman) for Emma Green (Swank), who often struggles with her torn emotions en route to the “Red Planet.” Ato Essandoh, Vivian Wu, Mark Ivanir and Ray Panthaki play her fellow astronauts, who have their own personal concerns.

Also an executive producer of “Away,” Swank says she was drawn to Emma being written as “an immensely deep, layered human being. I love that the commander of this mission to Mars is a woman and that’s not the drama of the story. I think that shows how far we’ve come working towards equality.

”The drama is these richly different racial backgrounds,” adds Swank, “these people who are on this journey working towards a goal together while having this gravitational pull to Earth, all having these families that make it a love story. That’s one of the big reasons I wanted to come onboard not only as an actor, but as an executive producer.”

“Parenthood” and “Friday Night Lights” veteran Jason Katims also is among “Away’s” executive producers, and he reasons that the saga has even more relevance in the age of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We shot the first season of the show, and then we were in post-production,” Katims reflects, “and a few months ago, we all had to go home and we worked remotely. Editors and producers and visual-effects people were all sending notes and cuts back and forth to each other, and we were trying to figure out how to do something without having the normal human interaction that’s so important to the creative process and to life.

Hilary Swank stars in “Away,” premiering Friday on Netflix.

“Suddenly, when we started to re-watch these cuts in this context, the show started to resonate in a way that we never imagined before … like, the idea of not being able to be with the people that are most important to you.”

However, “Away” writer and executive producer Andrew Hinderaker believes that optimism also is a huge element of the drama. Basing it partially on a magazine article about astronaut Scott Kelly’s preparation for a year aboard the International Space Station, he says, “Now, more than ever, is the time to remember what we’re capable of and what happens when we believe in science and when the world works together. We’re in just such a prime moment to capture that space-exploration excitement, absolutely.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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