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For All Mankind's Joel Kinnaman Says Ed's Tragedy Drew Him To The Character

The Apple TV+ series "For All Mankind" has, over the course of its three seasons, explored an alternate history where the Soviet Union landed on the moon first, and how that affected the course of space travel. A fourth season has already been confirmed.

In an interview with The Ringer, Joel Kinnaman was asked about what it was like to play astronaut and NASA administrator Ed Baldwin on the series. Kinnaman replied that the personal and professional failures Ed goes through over the course of the show are what drew him to the character. He noted that he doesn't find the All-American archetype especially compelling as a performer, but when he learned that Baldwin would have to deal with the death of his son, Shane Baldwin (Teddy Blum) in the first season itself, that challenge excited him.

Kinnaman added that being able to play Baldwin in the ensuing decades and watching how Shane's death has affected the course of his life, has also been exciting — if harrowing. "You become a different person and it becomes part of you and maybe the pain—you can't see the pain on the outside, but from everything that I've read and all the interviews I've seen with people that have lost children, the pain just never goes away," he said.

Kinnaman concluded that the weight of Shane's death hangs over Baldwin regardless of how much time passes in the show, and the show's writers make sure to explore that over the seasons.

Baldwin's changes over the show's run also excite Kinnaman

In his interview with The Ringer, Joel Kinnaman also spoke about how Ed Baldwin had changed over the course of the show's three seasons. He especially pointed out that playing Baldwin in Season 3 was fascinating, as it mirrored what was happening in the world today. The show's third season sees Molly Cobb (Sonya Walger) select Ed to command NASA's Mars mission, over fellow astronaut Danielle Poole (Krys Marshall). Margo Madison (Wrenn Schmidt), however, overrules Molly, putting Danielle in charge of the mission, leading Ed to leave NASA and join the private corporation Helios, run by Dev Ayesa (Edi Gathegi) to command their competing private mission to Mars.

Kinnaman pointed out that, much like members of an older generation today, Baldwin never had to question his privilege or his place in the world. He's been able to take things for granted, and never question whether he was going to get a position despite being qualified. Thus, when he lost the NASA mission to Poole, this led him to lash out and claim Poole got the job despite her qualifications, and not because of it.

The performer concluded that, while a more equal footing among people would lead to a better society, it was still difficult for someone like Baldwin to come to terms with that, which led to his decision to join Helios.