An Astronaut and a Production Designer Walk Onto a Set…

Scott Kelly, the astronaut who until very recently held the American record for longest spaceflight, spent at least some of his time aboard the ISS thinking about “Breaking Bad.” NASA will set up calls for the astronauts in orbit with interesting people they want to talk to; so, unlike all “Breaking Bad” fans stuck on Earth, Kelly was able to talk with Vince Gilligan and Brian Cranston — and, as it turns out, director/producer Michelle MacLaren, who was in the room and would remember Kelly when she set out to direct the first two episodes of Apple TV+’s “Constellation.” 

Brought on as an advisor to the Noomi Rapace thriller, Kelly sat in Zoom meetings with the “Constellation” production team and also traveled to set to help keep even the zero-gravity scenes grounded in reality. He still has his Soyuz re-entry manual, from which he gave input to the crew “so when Jo [Rapace] is putting stuff in the computer there, when she’s hitting all those inputs, that’s the real stuff. That’s not made up. That’s right from the checklist,” Kelly told IndieWire. 

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Netflix’s “Spaceman,” without spoiling the Johan Renck film, has a lot of components that aren’t on a checklist. Even the premise — a lone Czech astronaut, Jakub (Adam Sandler), travels to Jupiter to uncover a strange phenomenon while ruminating on his marriage to Lenka (Carey Mulligan) — has a more poetic lilt to it. But there’s a similar interest in the outer space design and the look of Jakub’s ship to be something with futuristic sci-fi polish that feels lived-in. 

So IndieWire asked both Kelly and “Spaceman” production designer Jan Houllevigue about what makes the outer space design of a film or a TV series feel like an exploration of the final frontier.

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