Given the absolute hellscape we’re currently living in, the idea of leaving planet Earth altogether and starting a new life in outer space doesn’t sound unappealing. But Netflix’s new limited series Away takes place in the Before Times, a more innocent era when coronavirus hadn’t uprooted life as we know it, so this is not an easy decision for Hilary Swank’s Emma Green to make.
Emma is a NASA commander at the top of her game, who’s been training for years for this three-year mission to Mars. She’s also a wife and mother, and her commitment to her mission is tested in the show’s very first episode when her husband (Josh Charles) suffers a sudden heart attack. Faced with an agonizing choice—abandon the mission her entire career has been building towards, or abandon her ailing husband and teenage daughter in the middle of a crisis—Emma makes the difficult decision to put her work first. It’s the kind of tough call we’ve seen scores of male heroes make in cinema over the years, but feels quietly revolutionary coming from a woman.
Swank speaks to ELLE.com about the refreshing gender dynamics of Away, her disappointment in this year’s Oscar nominations, and how this space saga mirrors the loneliness of lockdown. Continue reading Hilary Swank on the Away Episode That Left Her Sleepless
When Hilary Swank scooped two Oscars in the space of just five years — for Boys Don’t Cry (1999) and Million Dollar Baby (2004) — she became one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Since then, the 46-year-old Nebraska native has navigated the industry on her own terms, appearing in weighty dramas such as The Homesman (2014) and prestige TV in the form of FX’s Trust (2018), but also taking regular breaks from acting.
In 2015, she founded the Hilaroo Foundation, a nonprofit that supports underprivileged youth and abandoned animals, and the following year launched Mission Statement, a clothing line specialising in luxury ethical wardrobe staples. Between 2014 and 2017, she also cared for her father, who was recovering from a lung transplant. When she and entrepreneur Philip Schneider married in 2018, her father was well enough again to walk her down the aisle.
Swank returned to work with turns in the sci-fi thriller I Am Mother (2019) and satirical horror The Hunt (2020), but her next role is her most prominent in more than a decade: that of soft-spoken, sensitive American astronaut Emma Green in Andrew Hinderaker’s 10-part Netflix series Away which starts streaming this Friday. Tasked with leading a mission to Mars, she must unite an international space crew composed of a jaded Russian cosmonaut (Mark Ivanir), a secretive Chinese chemist (Vivian Wu), a British-Ghanian botanist (Ato Essandoh) and an Indian co-pilot (Ray Panthaki). In order to make history, Emma also has to leave behind her husband Matt (Josh Charles) and daughter Alexis (Talitha Eliana Bateman) — an arrangement complicated by the former’s ailing health and the latter’s coming of age.
We recently spoke to Swank about her grueling zero-gravity scenes, the illuminating conversations she had with some of the world’s greatest female astronauts, and why taking on the role meant partly fulfilling a childhood ambition. Continue reading Two-Time Oscar-Winner Hilary Swank Realizes a Childhood Dream With Her New Netflix Series, Away