For All Mankind continues to be one of the most compelling shows on television. The shocking season 3 finale ended with a horrifying attack at Johnson Space Center, heartbreaking deaths, a game-changing decision on Mars, and a time jump to 2003. The story is far from over. For All Mankind is currently filming season 4.
HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Krys Marshall, a.k.a. Danielle Poole, about the “devastating” season 3 finale and how it left her in tears. She broke down the moving scene where Danielle has to tell Ed about Karen’s tragic death. Krys also revealed Danielle and Ed’s decision to exile Danny on Mars will play “heavily” into the season 4 plot. Read our Q&A below:
There’s so much to talk about with season 3. The finale was such a game-changing episode. How did you react to the bombing and the major deaths?
Krys Marshall: It is devastating. We don’t know what’s going to happen until it happens. So I received the script, and it was maybe a day or two later that I finally sat down to read it. I like to read it when I have a moment to really take it all in, and the finale is always a really special episode. When I got to the part where Karen dies, I was just so taken aback that I had to just stop and breathe for a second. And then I finished the episode, and I saw that Molly dies at the end. I just closed my laptop and I just cried. I just cried. It’s no secret that we as a cast have become really close. Each time that we lose someone in the story, it really feels like you’re losing a friend. We also had such a unique experience on the show because we were in the middle of shooting season 2 when the world shut down. We all thought, “Okay, this will be two weeks, three weeks. No big deal. See you guys at the end of March.” Because of that, we were all kind of waiting on bated breath to see what would happen next when we return. It was about the show, but then it became about something much larger where the world was forced to quiet down and you had to kind of sit with your thoughts. So in that time, we really had each other. Everyone made their little pods, and our pod became one another. We hung out and made dinner together and swam in Shantel [VanSanten]’s pool and tried to have fun even when the world was completely closed. When we finally came back to work to return to season 2, it felt like we had created this little commune, this little bond. So now heading into season 4 and seeing our original numbers continue to drop, it’s pretty devastating. But the good news is that we’ve got an amazing story that we tell, and we continue to incorporate new people. Edi Gathegi is insanely talented and fit right into the group like a hand in glove. We’ve got some new folks this season who I can’t tell you about, but they’re already delightful. We just had our table read. We had a big cast dinner. The folks from Sony took us out to a fancy place in West Hollywood, and we all got drunk and told stories. It was just great. It was really great. So the family, we lose some, we gained some. It changes but it’s always still really good.
I think Karen’s death was particularly heartbreaking because she was just stepping into her own for the first time. It was a particularly poignant moment and so graceful in its simplicity when Danielle tells Ed what happened. It takes a lot of poise and strength to get through that without freaking out or anything like that. What was it like filming that scene with Joel [Kinnaman]? It was such a pivotal moment.
Krys Marshall: First of all, thank you for referencing that moment because it was a really special one for me. In real life, Joel and I have become quite close. It’s funny because in the beginning we actually didn’t really care for each other. I think he thought I was a know-it-all, which I am. I think I thought that he was sort of the king of the castle kind of guy, which in some ways he is. In season 1 when we did the “Hi Bob” episode, he, Michael Dorman, and myself were pretty much trapped on that set, which is about 200 square feet. We were there for like 12 days in a row, 14 hours a day. So in that time, we were really forced to get to know each other very quickly. In our downtime, we really would sleep in our bunk beds, while they would rearrange the set. So it became like brother and sister. What’s lovely about the show and watching these characters tell stories over such a long amount of time is that things like “Hi Bob” means more than just the words on the page because we’re watching Danielle at 25, and then we’re also seeing Danielle at 45. In that moment when I have to deliver the news about Karen’s death, I was, of course, overwhelmed. It’s a really intense moment to share with the character and also share with the actor. It’s a lot for Joel to take in. Shantal has played his wife for years now, and I came into it deciding that I didn’t want to put anything on it. No ham, no mustard, no sauce, no cheese… I would just tell him simply. That night it was probably about three o’clock in the morning. It was the very last shot of the day that we did, and we only did it twice. And then our director was like, “We got it. Wow, that’s a good night, everybody. Good night.” In seeing it back, what I really love about that moment is that Danielle and Ed have seen each other become a widow, right? I lost my husband between seasons 1 and 2. I watched Ed lose a child. I’m now seeing him lose a life partner. I’ve seen him become a dad, again. He’s seen me get remarried, find love again, and become a stepmom. Again, it’s just the beauty of our story in that we’re just seeing such a long time that these folks live. That history creates such a richness for the audience that you really don’t need anything extra when you tell something pretty terrible like that. You can just do it simply.
The bombing at JSC is devastating for the space community. I know you can’t say too much, but how do you think that’s going to impact the world of For All Mankind and just space exploration in general?
Krys Marshall: Our bombing at JSC is meant to sort of mirror the Oklahoma City bombings. I was pretty young when that happened, so I have a vague recollection of it, but it didn’t affect me. But 9/11 most certainly did, and I think that when someone experiences this kind of enormous tragedy collectively, it changes you forever. The folks who’ve survived through the 9/11 time, we’ll always remember what life was like before and what life was like after. It really is like striking a match. You can never unstrike it. So I will say that it definitely changes the world that we know of For All Mankind. It also physically changes the set because our old set was an exact replica, everything down to the carpet, the shape of the computers to the ceiling, of Mission Control from the 1960s. The audience will be excited to see that we’ve got a new Mission Control and, in many ways, a clean slate.
In the season 3 finale, Danielle and Ed also exile Danny to the North Korean spaceship. How did you feel about that decision?
Krys Marshall: Danny, you just want to wring his neck. He just does so many things wrong, that damn kid. But I think for Danielle there it is, again, with the word history. There’s so much history and the legacy that Tracy and Gordo leave behind in Jimmy and Danny Stevens. Danielle was there with Gordo in season 1 when he begins to lose his mind, and she ultimately sacrifices her own journey in Jamestown to protect his legacy, protect his reputation, and essentially save her friend. So once Tracy and Gordo are gone, it really is up to Danielle and Ed to sort of supplement that parental relationship and step in. It’s a brief moment we talk about at the start of season 3 when we gather after Danny has been caught skinny dipping and he’d been drinking. Danielle reprimands him and lets him know [that] you’ve been through this and you’ve recovered and we were there for you. Don’t backslide. So I think that she is in many ways the mama bear to these sorts of wayward children. The last thing Danielle wants to do is abandon Danny. At the same time, he’s essentially admitted to killing people in the crew and attempting to kill Ed, so I think that this is the only way now that we’re all marooned on Mars, it’s the only way that we can kind of split the difference. He’s too much of a liability to keep him around. At the same time, it’s incredibly painful. So I will just tease you with this: that last moment of Ed and Danielle saying goodbye to Danny plays heavily into the story in season 4.
The show jumps forward to 2003. How does this change things for you all? I assume there will be more makeup.
Krys Marshall: I was going to say more wrinkles, more gray hair. But I think when we look back to season 2, and we see Thomas Paine come out of the Mission Control, and he unplugs his electronic vehicle that’s in 1983 in our world. So because of these technological advances of us losing the moon but then doing so much more to continue the space race, we will see that those leaps and bounds continue to occur throughout the duration between season 3 and season 4. We’re going to see huge advances, really huge advances. I think Matt [Wolpert] and Ben [Nedivi] have talked about that. Mars is the real frontier for season 4. There’s also, as you mentioned, we see Margo at the end of season 3. She’s in Moscow, so we will be spending some time in Moscow.
The thing I love about this show is that For All Mankind has kept the same actors through the years despite moving forward in time. Most shows recast the characters. What’s it been like for you to be able to stay in this character and not have to hand off to another actress?
Krys Marshall: Like you said, most shows often recast those actors at some point when they tell a story as long as ours. It’s been such a treat. I think as an actor you grow up and you think, okay, God willing, I get to play some character who lives as a young Black girl in the 1960s after the Civil Rights era. Or maybe you’ll get to play this character of a woman who’s recently widowed in her early 30s. Or maybe we’ll get to play a character of someone who gets to go to the moon or gets to go to Mars. You think about these sort of abstract, cool things that would be wonderful to play, and you never dreamed that you get to do it all at once in one job, and in one lifetime. I really don’t know of any other TV show that’s done what we’ve done. I think the audience has to be willing to come on that journey with us and understand that when we started the show, we were in our 20s and 30s. We’ve grown up with the show. What I love about what we’ve done with the makeup and the hair styling is that we want to give a suggestion of who these people are and understand that these actors, within reason, will always be who they are. But we would prefer to do something that’s more subtle, that is nuanced, and that is emblematic of a person who’s changing without it going so far, and becoming cartoonish. But from the perspective of performance, it’s great. It’s great to be in those bones. And I, Krys, get to watch Danielle grow up with me. I get to see what it’s like to come into an environment where, in the beginning, I was sort of overwhelmed and intimidated and excited to be there. And then over time, over seasons, I become more and more comfortable and no longer need GPS to get to work because now I just know how to get there. As time has gone on, I’ve gone from being the fledgling in this environment to being the leader. It’s been such a treat, and I’m excited to continue to do that going into season 4.