‘Lost in Space’ Stars Molly Parker and Toby Stephens Talk Relationships

Leave it to Netflix to reboot a beloved ’60s TV classic. Lost in Space, premiering on the streaming service April 13, once again follows the adventures of the family Robinson, who find themselves stranded after their mission to colonize a nearby planet goes horribly astray. [Review to come soon]

Folks at this year’s WonderCon got a chance to see footage from the new series – and WLE’s Kit Bowen got a chance to sit down with the whole cast and creators of the new and improved Lost in Space.

First up, we spoke with Black Sails star Toby Stephens, who plays John Robinson, and House of Card‘s Molly Parker as Maureen Robinson. The two talked about how this Robinson marriage – and family – is far different from the original and grounded in reality.

I’m such a huge fan of the original, but I was drawn in by the relationship between John and Maureen Robinson in this one. It is very compelling because they start off very estranged. Can you talk about it?

Toby Stephens: Truthfully, I love working with Molly. Because I think it’s great to find somebody that you can create something with that is couched in a reality that an audience won’t be expecting. I don’t think they’ll be expecting a family that operates like a real family, warts and all. These are parents trying to do their best. I’m a parent and you’re always disappointed in yourself as a parent. Trying to be better all the time, “Next time I’ll get it right!” But it’s this family that’s become estranged and through the storyline and the pressures, they find each other again.

Molly Parker: I like that there’s romance in the show and it’s the mom and dad!

Stephens: And we totally gross out the kids.

Parker: Yeah, ewww.

But then the Robinsons go through so much peril once they crash land! It’s like they can’t catch a break…

Parker: We begin in this place of separation and isolation. Calcification of years of resentment and things many of us can relate to. Then to put them in a situation in which they are fighting every second for their children’s lives. It’s a fun show to watch but every day you’re like, “Ayyy.” And then you have to save another one. It’s exhausting!

Stephens: You can only save one kid at a time.

Can you tease what happens when the Robinsons interact with the other survivors?

Parker: Without giving away too much of the plot, one of the things I think is cool that I didn’t realize when I took the role, is that this is an international mission. So the other families that are there are from all over the world. I love that.

Stephens: There are also these other personalities that come into play and do affect the characters. If it was just this family…

Parker: We would all kill each other – and we’d have to work too much.

Stephens: When Don West finally comes in, you really need that other element. Dr. Smith, you need that, another energy.

Maureen Robinson has always been portrayed as strong matriarch. Is that what appealed to you?

Parker: [The original Maureen Robinson, played by June Lockhart] has such strength. You felt it come through even though what she was actually given to do was make sandwiches and work the machine that folds the clothes. But she was still fierce. It’s cool to be able to pull her into a time where she has a lot more agency. She’s a tough cookie.

Stephens: It’s great because it plays with the dynamics. It flips things. Without going to extremes in a very subtle way. It is addressed 30 years in the future where maybe we’ve addressed some of the inequalities happening now. He’s not going around saying, “What the hell’s happening? Who’s wearing the trousers around here?” This is a new world we’re living in and he respects her. And the respect they have for each other. She’s really good at this stuff and I’m not good at astrophysics. But I can fix things. They work great together.

Parker: One of the things we were aware of and talk about was trying to make that relationship have depth, while at the same time it’s a family show and you’re going to set up a thing where, “Well, he had an affair.” And at the heart of this strong woman is a truth. It happens in a relationship – the need to be needed. We talked about at one point of [John Robinson] feeling like she didn’t need him. That she’s could do it all by herself. That is certainly her outside and her persona, but where’s the softness? Where’s the receptiveness to him?

Stephens: It is that thing where it takes two to tango. Why did he feel he had to go off to war? Anyway, it’s for the audience to decide.

Stay tuned for more interviews with the Lost in Space cast members, like Parker Posey as the infamous Dr. Smith and Ignacio Serricchio as Don West…

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