With the number of platforms and televisions shows exploding, it’s no wonder more and more film actors are now being drawn into taking on television roles. Still, it’s always a bit of a shock to see actors of a certain caliber moving to TV, and there’s no better example than the news today that two-time Oscar-winner Sean Penn is taking the lead role in the new Hulu series, The First.
The show, from House of Cards creator Beau Willimon, is set in the near future and follows a group of astronauts on the first manned mission to Mars.
“I have such deep admiration for Sean’s immense talent and extraordinary body of work,” says Willimon. “I feel very lucky to be collaborating with an artist of his caliber.”
The First will follow not only the astronauts themselves but their loved ones left behind on Earth and the ground team supporting them throughout the mission.
Willimon stepped down as showrunner on House of Cards after the show’s fourth season and received a straight-to-series order for The First earlier this year from Hulu.
Penn has made appearances on television before, mostly in sitcom cameos on shows like Friends and Two and a Half Men, but The First will be his first time in a lead series role.
He did take the first step earlier this year though when he took the lead role in the HBO miniseries American Lion as President Andrew Jackson.
Though it just recently wrapped production, the miniseries is still expected to air sometime before the end of the year.
This is far from the first time Hollywood has explored the idea of a mission to Mars. In 2000, Gary Sinise starred in Brian DePalma’s Mission to Mars while Val Kilmer featured in Red Planet only a few months later. And, of course, Matt Damon famously made his mark on Mars in the 2015 movie, The Martian.