Lost in Space is quickly becoming a fan favorite, including Penny Robinson. Hidden Remote got to speak to Mina Sundwall, who has brought the character to life.
The Netflix reboot Lost in Space has become an ever increasingly popular series with fans following with The Robinsons.
Mina Sundwall, who plays Penny Robinson in the series, took the time out to chat with Hidden Remote on the new season, which premiered in December, her castmates and future plans.
Hidden Remote: What was shooting the second season of Lost in Space like compared to the first season?
Mina Sundwall: If Season 1 was the baby, Season 2 is definitely a teenager, which would make Season 3 a fully developed young adult!
Overall Lost in Space Season 2 is much bigger, not only from a special effects perspective (and there are many grandiose effects) but the emotional ups and downs are wider, the characters have had more time for development and we can see their connections within and outside of the family develop while new characters come in to create complexities.
People are rarely 100% good or bad and in Season 2 we get more opportunities to investigate these unspoken relationships, all while the Robinsons are more lost than ever before, in more planets with more dangerous creatures and dazzling special effects.
And on top of all of that…we’re known for a chicken and the robot’s butt. The Robutt, if you will. Shooting season 2 has really been like shooting 10 full sci-fi movies.
HR: What did you know about the original series?
MS: I had heard of it because of its iconic status and I knew of “Danger, Will Robinson” forever, but I really only delved into the full original series — and discovered the human-sized vegetables and pre-folding laundry machines — once I got the part. Now I know every bit of it of course.
HR: It’s a physically demanding role, what have been the biggest challenges you have faced as Penny Robinson?
MS: At least this year there was no glacier or ice set. But there was a LOT of water work. The most challenging stunts were all in the water, mostly making it look like you’re not thinking about 100 things at once. Swimming (or drowning) or climbing or lifting things, pulling sails, while being sprayed by water-cannons or trying to avoid the edges of the pool, not breathing too hard as the helmets have limited oxygen capacity, not slipping, and with the director in your ear reminding you it’s “life or death” so the drama is real. Thankfully it looks much more badass than it felt.
But in reality, the biggest challenge was not in the stunts. My key priority was to portray a Penny who’s relatable to both younger and older audiences, not a cliché teen: a bit of a misfit, not happy by the circumstances but better than she gives herself credit for, and a good listener who learns from her mistakes.
She discovers boys and is longing for independence, but she knows and shows she’s still a kid. She walks a thin line, and I wanted to sit in the sweet spot. Funny, but not too sarcastic because of the serious events; rebellious, but not unreasonable because family comes first, scared but empowering, and most of all human.
Every time I was handed a new script for a new episode I was amazed at the craft of the writers to keep Penny in this balancing act, and I did my best to give justice to their vision. That was the biggest demand of the role for me.
HR: What has been the most memorable moment of working on Lost in Space?
MS: Iceland! That is something I will never forget.
We lived in a hotel and shared meals with each other 24/7 including the crew. We got to stand on volcanic rocks under enormous waterfalls, on immense blank-sand beaches in the darkness, traveled around together, and acted very emotional scenes in an environment that was as dramatic and as intense as our internal struggles.
The one scene where I ask Maureen if she read my book under the waterfall was one of the most amazing experiences to film — it was one of those days when technology decided to rebel, but the cast and crew proved that nothing was going to stop us. The sun was shining more than ever expected, and the camera was surrounded by rainbows that could not be visible in the scene, so the frame size was becoming smaller by the minute.
The spacesuits were wet and heavy and the waterfall water was spraying on the camera lenses and the helmets so neither Molly nor I could see anything (it was like going through a carwash, but just on your face). As the helmets were sealed, we could only communicate through microphones and headphones…that of course stopped working.
In that moment I just focused on Penny’s fear of death and disappointment and the sound of the water. Everything else was muffled and far-away. It was almost a Zen experience, except that I was supposed to answer to Molly without hearing her lines and not knowing when or how she was talking to me…until our Assistant Director, Warren, kneeled on the ground, under the continuous water sprays, and SQUEEZED OUR LEGS when it was our turn to speak.
The scene became: silence, silence, silence, SQUEEZE. SPEAK, silence… somehow the discomfort, the water made us feel closer to the Robinsons and the situation than we would have been. What a rollercoaster but so much fun and collaboration!
HR: What’s it like on set with your other castmates on Lost in Space? It seems you have a close relationship with your “siblings.”
MS: We live and breathe the same air for six months. We recognize from a twitch in the eyebrow if one of us is pissed, tired, happy or anything in between. I think we developed a chemistry that goes beyond the need to speak now. We just know. And if one of us is having a hard time with a scene or a line, the others will deliver their lines to create comfort. We know how to play off each other.
There are so many videos of Max, Taylor and I dancing in between takes that sometimes I don’t even realize we really did it that much: we look ridiculous, but that perfectly epitomizes who we are when we’re together. And Toby often comes in with a dad-joke… perfect. I’m very lucky.
HR: How has the fandom embraced you as Penny Robinson?
MS: There has been an overwhelming amount of love from fans everywhere in the world, I appreciate it beyond words. They take the time to create art, write stories and they really want to be part of my life and Penny’s life. A fan just said a couple of days ago: “it’s amazing the first time you realize how many people care, enjoy it”.
Trust me, I am. I just posted a fan-created meme on my Instagram that pokes fun at Penny’s insecurity and the response was so touching. So many comments telling me how people love Penny, how smart she is, how she should believe in herself, describing things I, and many other teenagers, have felt. It brings us together. Teens can relate to her, and through her I can relate to them, which tells me that no matter your language, your country of birth or social norms, being a teen is such a globally unifying experience.
HR: What’s next for you?
MS: Lately I’ve been working on a show that will be released soon and I am writing a few things that will take time to develop. For now I’ve been sworn to secrecy by the powers that be…
HR: Will there a Season 3 for Lost in Space?
MS: I wish I knew! But I have a feeling we’ll find out soon! My fingers are crossed. The Robinson’s story isn’t over just yet. I need to know more about the Fortuna!
Lost in Space is currently streaming on Netflix.