‘Away’ Star Hilary Swank Wanted to Be a Real Astronaut Before Acting — Here’s Why

Before she became two-time Academy Award-winner Hilary Swank, Swank had dreams of space. So her new Netflix series, Away, harkens back to her early ambitions. She plays the leader of an international space mission to Mars.

Hilary Swank | Diyah Pera/Netflix

Swank participated in a Television Critics Association panel for Away on Aug. 4. She discussed her dreams of being an astronaut and how she learned to fake space walks for Netflix. Away Season 1 is now streaming on Netflix.

Hilary Swank told the creators of ‘Away’ she wanted to be a real astranaut

Andrew Hinderaker created Away. Jessica Goldberg is the show runner and Jason Katims executive produces. They bonded over a mutual love of outer space.

“I actually wanted to be an astronaut before I wanted to be an actor,” Swank said. “When I sat down with Jason, Jessica and Andrew, I told them. I was like, ‘You may not believe this, but I’m not just saying this because I really like this show. I wanted to be an astronaut.’ The whole idea of space exploration, something bigger than all of us looking back down at earth and how beautiful it is and how we’re all connected and how there’s no borders. There’s no boundaries.”

Away
L-R: Mark Ivanir, Hilary Swank, Pay Nathaki | Netflix

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Should commercial space flight become a reality, Swank is down for a short trip.

“I don’t think I would want to go to Mars if it took three years, but the moon, 100%,” Swank said.

Hilary Swank learned to fake zero gravity for ‘Away’

Netflix did not film Away in space. Save that for Doug Liman and Tom Cruise

“Pretending that you’re in zero G, zero gravity, it takes a lot of effort and a lot of effort to make it look effortless,” Swank said. “We were harnessed by the lower part of our hips and they were acting as a pendulum. So we’d squeeze our glutes to move us forward, and then squeeze abs to move us backwards, but the whole time we’re squeezing these muscles so tight and trying not to talk funny because of it.”

The mistake every actor makes simulating zero gravity

When you’re pretending to float slowly through space, it’s tempting to slow everything down. That would look silly.

Away zero gravity
Hilary Swank | Diyah Pera/Netflix

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“Also, the whole idea of like being in zero G, you just naturally want to talk like you’re in slow motion which people don’t do in zero gravity,” Swank said. “So it was, I think, for all of us a lot more challenging than we realized it would be. But then like anything it just becomes an important part of your character, and when you’re doing it you feel like, you’re all in space together.”

NASA space suits made Hilary Swank reconsider being an astronaut

Perhaps if Swank had known what it’s like to wear a space suit, she would have given up on being an astronaut even earlier. 

Hilary Swank in Away
Hilary Swank | Diyah Pera/Netflix

“I also want to point out that those space suits were no joke,” Swank said. “They were not made to look real. They were like real. I think you could go to space in them. We used the real fabrics and the hardware was really heavy. So I think a suit, along with the backpack, weighed somewhere like 30 pounds, 35 pounds? So, that was also a lot of sweat like that you wouldn’t be probably sweating so much in space.”