Mina Sundwall Talks About The End Of Lost In Space And Who Should Cross Over Into Legends Of Tomorrow – Exclusive Interview
Netflix’s take on “Lost in Space” began its initial production in February 2017. Nearly five years and three seasons later, the sci-fi series has taken its final bow. The story weaves an all new version of the Robinson family, an exciting reinvention of Dr. Smith as played by Parker Posey, the robot they all come to call friend, and the dangers that being lost in space can bring. The story features conflict with a race of alien robots and conflict among the humans trying to find their way to their new home on Alpha Centauri.
The journey is one taken by more than just the characters, it’s one taken by the actors as well. It’s an especially notable time for the three performers who portray the Robinson children because they quite literally grew up on “Lost on Space.” One of those actors is Mina Sundwall, who plays writer, romantic, and hero Penny Robinson.
Now that the story of “Lost in Space” is complete, Looper sat down with Sundwall to find out what she thinks “Lost in Space” was really about, how the series shaped her life, and why it’s a lot easier to cross this show over with her other major credit, “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” than you might think.
Lost in Space's third season the changes and the most exciting parts
How was the story told in Season 3 changed by the pandemic, and do you think that the way people watched the show, given the fact that it’s a show that features so much isolation, was impacted by COVID?
I hope so. I don’t want to speak for people who are watching it. Given that everybody had a different experience in the pandemic, I’m sure that everybody will relate to different parts of the season. But from where I was, reading the scripts as they were coming out and relating to the characters, it does feel, especially for the kids, very similar in the sense that they had to mature very quickly. I think that the isolation and being alone mixed with constantly being in the digital world expedited a lot of the maturity and independence of teenagers right now, and that carries through in the context of our show a little bit, but I don’t know. In a way, I think it will be, but I hope that the elements of fun and joy and excitement and energy are not overshadowed by that.
The show is done. Actually, I feel really lucky to get to talk to you now that it’s out because it feels like we can talk about everything.
Yes, I know. This is my first day being able to actually talk about the things that I’ve had to hold my tongue on for so long.
What are the things you felt like you wanted to say, but you felt like you couldn’t talk about?
Oh, so many things. I wanted to talk about the climbing and the excitement of getting to do new stunts and Penny’s journey into her empathy being part of the reason why she was able to communicate to robots and having her own robot and letting that be the driving force of her hero’s journey rather than through action or through science, which is a lot of what her family has. That’s where she really found herself in the places that she had been lost in the previous seasons. I wanted to talk about the fun with the boys and finding Grant. There were so many things.
Learning on the set of Lost in Space
It’s such a cool story for Penny to connect with her own robot and it’s cool that she names the robot Sally. If you were going to get your own robot, what would you name that robot?
Oh, that’s such a good question. Oh, no. Oh, I should have thought about this. I don’t even know. I mean, I would love to give it an absurdly human name, like Thomas, you know what I mean? I find that really funny. Oh, I hope that if I ever had my own robot one day, I would be more creative than I am right now.
Now that you’ve done all three seasons and it’s in the rear view, what stands out as far as challenges? When you’re doing three seasons of a sci-fi show, there are going to be things that push you.
As a performer, a lot of it has to do with maintaining stamina. We shot for six or seven months at a time, and especially the first two seasons, it was in a country that was different from where I lived. We shot in Canada, and so it was adapting to a new environment while maintaining the energy that the show requires while also embracing the chaos that it is to work every day of the week for six months with a huge crew and lots of people. I had a lot of lessons on how to do that and also learn how to carry yourself on set and communicate properly. So I think that was the biggest, not necessarily challenge, but learning curve.
Were there people that you looked to for guidance, who you learned from as a performer?
Absolutely. The adults in our cast, I spent every season absorbing as much as I could from all of them for different reasons. Molly and Toby, watching them work and break down a scene and understand the little details has taught me so much about breaking down characters and understanding what every part of a script really means. And then Ignacio also brings humor and fun and joy in ways that you wouldn’t even expect on the page, that elevates everything and brings a different tone into a situation, even if it’s a dramatic situation. And Parker is incredible and wonderful to watch in so many different ways. I absolutely was sponging up as much as I could from all of them, and I am the one who asks all of the annoying questions.
Improvising and becoming like Penny
Parker Posey is such a talented improvisational actor, but sci-fi shows tend to be very scripted because there are so many things that have to be done in post. Did you have a chance to play in that improvisational way?
Absolutely. There was a lot of room for us to play around. Well, I say a lot without very much to compare it to in terms of you can or cannot, but there was a room for us to play and find little moments, whether they were outside of the script or adding something very small in or pitching an idea. I ad-libbed some lines. That was a lot of fun, getting to speak in Penny’s voice in a different way. Parker absolutely was able to find different ways to approach a scene and shine a different light on something. It was scripted for things that were beyond our control, for sure, in terms of the effects in what the world had, but there were little moments in the personalities that we could make our own.
Were there lines from this season that you came up with, that made it to the final version?
I believe so. I am going to expose myself and say that I have not watched all of the episodes yet. I plan on finishing them tonight. So I am not 100% sure, but I believe there are a few.
The longer a show goes on, the more writers tend to start to cater the writing of characters to the performers who play them. Do you feel like Penny became more like you as the seasons went on?
I think it was a middle ground. I think she became a little more like me and I became a little more like her in a sense. The writers talked to us in between seasons to see what we would want to see for our characters or what were things that we were interested in exploring, and in that sense, I think I brought some of myself into her in what I was hoping to see with her. But a lot of her humor and how she responds, some of the sarcastic one-liners and some of her insecurities and how she navigates, that is mostly her.
The lessons learned at the end of Lost in Space's final season
Other than the final scene of Will and Robot on a new planet, Penny gets the last word on the story of the series. What you do with this last season of the story being told — what did you take away from it? There’s some message there in what’s happening with the relationships between the humans and the robots at the end, but that’s what I got out of it, and I’m curious as to what you did.
Absolutely. There are a lot of messages from the show that are not necessarily directed at the forefront of the story. One that I’ve always carried from the show that has to do with inclusivity of everybody and learning to understand something new or foreign to you rather than reject it immediately because it’s something you’re not familiar with, that’s a big one.
Our show is set 30 years in the future. There are women in positions that you… I mean, like a rocket scientist and doctors and in places that would be a conversation right now, but we don’t have a female doctor, we just have a doctor, and we don’t have a female rocket scientist, we have a rocket scientist. It’s not a conversation, and that point has stood out to me a lot because that’s where we hope to get to, and beginning to have an attitude towards it where it doesn’t need to be a conversation is something that I carry with me a lot. But I think the main one of the show is always that no matter what, looking out for the people around you and bringing people into your world is so important. I’m trying to find the best way to word this, but just to take care of everyone around you, really. I think we could use a little bit more of that in the world right now.
A Lost in Space/Legends of Tomorrow crossover and the future
I have a dumb theory that’s going to transition us to talking about “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” and my theory is that Penny Robinson is secretly the daughter of Mick Rory.
Oh, that’s an interesting crossover.
She’s a writer, he’s a writer. She does some romance stuff in the middle of danger and he has a tendency to write romance stuff that is very action and violence-based. So with that in mind, if Mick Rory was going to go up against SAR, is it just game over in five seconds? Is that even a fight?
Ooh. I was thinking about this. I think it would depend on whose turf this is taking place and who Mick Rory is defending because if it’s family, it’s over for SAR. If Mick Rory is defending family or friends, it’s over for SAR, for sure. But it might depend whose turf because SAR has got some buddies that can do some damage, for sure.
That actually makes a lot of sense. If you could do an actual crossover where you could have one person from the Waverider go to the Jupiter 2, and vice versa, who would you do the crossover with if it’s just one from each show?
Ooh. I mean, I would love to see how Mick Rory would handle being on the Jupiter 2, specifically taking orders. I would also love to see how Dr. Smith would handle being on the Waverider. I’d love to know what mischief she would get up to.
“Lost in Space” is a remake, but more and more shows get continuations rather than remakes. 10 years later, let’s say, just hypothetically, Netflix comes back and says, “Time for Season 4, gang. Let’s go.” Where do you think that Penny would be ten years from now?
I would hope, a very established writer who’s using her voice for … whether that be people or robots, but people who are not often listened to. I think that Penny would use her voice for good to tell stories that make a difference. Probably still asking where Will is. I think that’s a repeated question that will continue for many years to come. And I think that the Robinson family would still be quite close and sick together through whatever happened, even ten years in the future. I should hope that they’re able to sit down and be calm for a moment and not have to face danger immediately. But really, what we’ve learned from the past three years is that you never know. So barring any having to fight alien robots, I’d hope that she’s an established writer telling stories that make a difference.
The third and final season of “Lost in Space” is now streaming on Netflix.