Movies & TV

Why Netflix's Away Isn't Your Typical Space Movie

Josh Charles on Away, his character's emotional journey, and more.
IMAGE NETFLIX
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In Away, creator Andrew Hinderaker delivers a fresh take on the space movie. The story, inspired by an Esquire article by Chris Jones, takes on more human, emotional, and relatable themes.

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The Netflix series stars Hilary Swank, Josh Charles, Vivian Wu, Mark Ivanir, Ato Essandoh, Ray Panthaki, and Talitha Bateman. For Charles, who plays Matt Logan, Emma's (Hilary Swank) husband and a NASA engineer, the character explores an emotional journey that is essential to the story.

We spoke with Charles about his character's emotional journey and why Away is the space movie we need right now.

ESQUIRE PHILIPPINES: What drew you to take on Netflix's Away

JOSH CHARLES: What drew me to it is the combination of science fiction and family drama. It combines what we've seen in space stories, but also really focusing on interpersonal relationships between the main characters. That's the stuff that interests me as an actor and I felt like that was could potentially be very rich to play.

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Photo by NETFLIX.
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ESQ: What did you find most challenging about playing Matt?

JC: I'd say what was most challenging was just the physical aspects of Matt, what he goes through because of his physical condition. He has to really battle and struggle just doing that work, and being in a wheelchair for that long was challenging. It was hard. It made me very much aware of people that that go through that, [something] I had never experienced before.

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But really, just being able to put myself in people's shoes of what it feels like to be away from your own body. It's something that you're used to—feeling strong and thinking you can do everything and suddenly you can't. What does that do to you? That was a real challenge.

ESQ: Tell us a bit more about the emotional journey that Matt goes through.

JC: I think it's a real wall he's hit early on in the show, and you know he's kind of driven. I think he's a very strong character and is not a quitter.

I think his determination and his drive to stop at nothing to get back to work, to get back to being able to walk again, that's his goal right now—to get back some sense of normalcy so that he can do his job, be there and protect his wife, and be the best dad for his daughter.

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I think it's a journey of a guy to get back physically to how he was, but there's a lot of obstacles in the way. And I think that's the sort of journey that we've seen in season one.

Photo by DIYAH PERA/NETFLIX.

ESQ: Matt missed out on a lot with Emma going to Mars instead of him. How do you think he feels?

JC: When you watch the show, I think you learn a lot through the flashbacks. Years ago, when they were both training to be astronauts and just had their daughter, Alexis (Talita Bateman), he gets the news that he has this genetic condition that his father had passed on to him. He wasn't aware of that.

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Because of that, NASA understandably just won't take the risk... Even though it seems like it's a low risk, it still is a substantial risk to put an astronaut in space where that could happen—especially given the extensive medical routines that these astronauts have to go through to make sure that they're safe and capable of being in space.

So, I think that is something that was gut-wrenching for him, you know. But I think he's dealt with it moved on. I don't mean he's not someone who lives with regret, but he's also still so intimately involved in NASA as a chief engineer. I think he still feels that he and Emma are sharing the same dream.

Photo by DIYAH PERA/NETFLIX.
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ESQ: What kind of reaction are you hoping people will have with Away?

JC: I hope they enjoy it. I hope they're invested in it and care about the characters. I want people to like it. I mean, I'm human. I hope they like it and care about the characters and want to know what happens.

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Paolo Chua
Paolo Chua is the Associate Style Editor of Esquire Philippines.
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