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For All Mankind's Edi Gathegi Inspiration For Playing A Billionaire Makes Too Much Sense

Apple TV+'s alternate history show "For All Mankind" blends thrilling space action with workplace drama. Yet, despite portraying an alternate history where the space race never ended after the Soviets landed first on the moon in 1969, the show's political events and social changes still mirror our history and societal circumstances. Season 3 introduced a private company called Helios, which entered the race to Mars with NASA and the Soviets. Per TVLine, Edi Gathegi plays Dev Ayesa, the charismatic billionaire CEO of Helios, who seems to mirror Elon Musk and his company SpaceX. Ayesa poses a challenge to the American and Soviet space programs, especially when NASA mainstay Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) makes the controversial leap to Helios to command their Mars mission.

The show — which was renewed for its 4th season – takes Ayesa on quite the journey, including an emotional backstory about his engineer father. He also makes some controversial decisions along the way that polarized viewers. In an interview with The Beat, Gathegi talked about what it was like to step into the role of a billionaire CEO of a company like Helios. He said, "billionaires, they do both amazing things and things that not everybody agrees with. So, the complications are just baked into the DNA of who these overly rich people are." While Gathegi acknowledged the apparent influence of a figure like Elon Musk in his role, he actually drew inspiration from another CEO.

The visionary that inspired Gathegi's performance as Ayesa

Edi Gathegi told The Beat that Steve Jobs was the primary real-life influence on his performance as Dev Ayesa. This aligns with Ayesa's personality because, like Steve Jobs, he is often in presentation mode. As an engineer and space visionary, Ayesa is constantly trying to sell not just to the company board on his ideas but also to the employees of Helios and its supporters who believe in privatized space exploration. Gathegi remarked, "I kept him in mind and how he was able to just relate with his audience and get everybody excited about every new product ... Those are the kinds of things that I used Steve as inspiration for."

Gathegi made similar remarks in an interview with Screen Rant, where he said he had Steve Jobs in mind for his performance but built the character by imagining what his life would have been like. He said, "I didn't really draw inspiration from any other source other than what it would be like to be Dev, what it would be like to have created a company of this stature, and to have the goals that he has and what it takes to achieve those goals and execute the daily plans."

Gathegi is excited that his character has polarized viewers

Starting the 3rd season as the newcomer to the space race, Dev Ayesa is the new egotistical villain who presents a challenge to NASA. Yet to some, with his belief in not having corporate hierarchies, he may also represent a progressive future. Dev's complexity is in line with all of the characters on the show, many of whom are good-natured people who nonetheless make decisions the audience disagrees with. This was exciting to Gathegi, who told Inverse that it was great to play someone with this kind of depth because "There are contradictions that run through everyone."

Unlike some of the other main characters on the show, Dev Ayesa did not seem to meet an untimely end in the third season's eventful finale. Does this mean we can expect more Dev in the upcoming 4th season? Considering how "For All Mankind" portrays characters across several decades of their life, it seems likely that we'll see what Dev is up to in the 2000s. For now, Gathegi teased, "So, is Dev around in Season 4? I guess we'll see."