'Lost In Space' Actress Taylor Russell Dream Casts Idris Elba As Her Onscreen Dad, Talks Surviving In Space

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Sydney Scott Apr, 23, 2018

Lost in Space first wowed audiences in the 1960s, now the sci-fi series is back on Netflix.

The streaming giant has rebooted the action-packed space drama with a stellar cast that includes actress Taylor Russell, who plays Judy Robinson, the oldest daughter of Maureen Robinson and stepdaughter to John Robinson. 

Russell impresses in her role as a genius medic and doctor, who is compassionate and caring even in the face of danger.

ESSENCE spoke to the actress about her role on the series, the actor she’d like to see play her biological father, and if she’d actually be able to survive being lost in space.

ESSENCE: Did you know about Lost In Space before you joined? Were you into Sci-Fi?

RUSSELL: My dad and family really loved the original Lost In Space and grew up watching it. I didn’t know about the show until after I booked it and then I went back and I watched it. But, I grew up [with] two brothers and my dad, who all watched Battlestar Gallactica and Star Trek and Star Wars, so I grew up watching that. I wouldn’t say I was in love with it, but then I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey and Fifth Element and I fell in love with sci-fi. Now, I’m a huge fan.

ESSENCE: So, how did you get the role of Judy Robinson? The original actress, Marta Kristen, was white. Then Judy was played by Heather Graham in the 1998 film. Now, you, a Black woman, are playing the role. How did you get the role and how important for you was it to see this kind of diversity, especially in this genre?

RUSSELL: I’ve been thinking about this lately and it’s interesting because people will see that I got cast and a lot of things that I’ve read are you know, or I’ve been told is, that people are so questioning of the fact that there is somebody who’s mixed race in a white family. It’s fascinating to me because I live in a world where I see blended families all the time. Whether it’s mixed marriages or from a marriage before or children who are adopted, not everybody looks the same. I think it’s important that there’s diversity because its real life. Maybe people who don’t understand that aren’t around families that look like that, which is fine because it’s what you grew up in. You’re a product of your environment and what you see. I love that I got the opportunity to do the show. There’s a lot of young girls who are very strong. Letitia Wright from Black Panther, Zendaya plays them, and so does Yara Shahidi. I think there are a lot more girls who look like me on TV now which is great. 

ESSENCE: Do you think your dad will ever be introduced on the show? Do you think they’ll mention him or show a picture? Is there an actor you’d want to play your biological father?

RUSSELL: You’re the first person that’s asked me that and that is something that we’ve talked about since I got the show. Yeah, I obviously, I can’t say much. So, if we get a season two, then, hopefully, there’s a possibility that will come up. I will say, if that storyline progresses and my biological father does get introduced, the dream actor to play him is probably Idris Elba.

ESSENCE: That would be so cool.

RUSSELL: My dream dad. That sounds weird, but he’s been like the person I wanted for so long to play Judy’s father. 

ESSENCE: There’s also the dynamic of you and Don West (Ignacio Serricchio). I know in the original series they kind of meant for him to be a love interest for Judy. Honestly, there’s a noticeable age difference on the show. Do you think they’ll keep that going or do you think it’ll be more of a brother-sister, close friends kind of relationship?

RUSSELL: I mean, so much is different from the original version of Lost In Space and Ignacio and I, like, in real life we bicker and we’re so head-to-head. We love each other, but we are definitely like brother and sister and go toe to toe a lot. I think you see a lot of that onscreen and that kind of chemistry. I’m 23, turning 24, and Ignacio’s like a decade older than me and, not to say that you can’t have a relationship with somebody older than you or younger than you, but I don’t think that is a storyline that is going to happen next year. I mean, it might, I really don’t know, but from what I know right now I think it’s probably going to stay more in the friend zone and maybe that’ll progress in later, later seasons. But, I think for right now, they’re gonna be a power team.

ESSENCE: So, do you think you could actually survive if you got lost in space? And, if you had to leave Earth, what would you bring with you?

RUSSELL: It’s such a fun question but it’s so scary when you actually think about leaving Earth. On a serious note, I wouldn’t want to. I hope we wouldn’t have to leave Earth because we’ve destroyed it to the point where it’s uninhabitable. I think I would be terrified. It really, really scares me. There’s so much going on right now. I mean, I care about the environment and I think we should all be doing things that to help monitor our footprints and the way we eat, what cars we drive, where we shop. It’s really important to be conscious of how you’re taking up space in this world. I think, hopefully, if enough people are mindful and thoughtful like that, then we won’t have to leave Earth. Maybe we can just go to Mars on the weekends, I don’t know.

ESSENCE: Like a little weekend getaway. A honeymoon destination.

RUSSELL: Yeah, I’m down with that.