Hulu and Sean Penn are dreaming of the stars in the first teaser trailer for the upcoming drama series The First. The next project from Beau Willimon since he departed Netflix’s House of Cards, The First is an original new series that takes aim at the first manned expedition to Mars, detailing not only the scientific achievements necessary to accomplish such a feat, but the personal and professional efforts and sacrifices that have to be made in order to be the first humans to travel from Earth to the red planet.
Aside from the two-time Academy Award winner, Willimon has lined up an impressive cast for his new series that includes Natascha McElhone, Melissa George, LisaGay Hamilton, Hannah Ware, James Ransone, and Bill Camp. And from the look of the first teaser trailer, it seems as though Hulu has not only spared no expense in creating The First, but that Willimon is fully shifting gears from the campy political cynicism of House of Cards to something much more earnest and uplifting.
The extent to which this represents a major change for Willimon is evident, as the teaser appears to have borrowed some of Terrence Mallick's visual style, with the shots of Penn lit by the sun’s golden hues or a flock of birds swirling in the sky at dusk. That might just be the product of some clever editing on behalf of the person responsible for assembling the trailer, but it nevertheless paints an impressive-looking picture, one that certainly stands to elevate Hulu’s original series, along with streaming services’ current champ, The Handmaid’s Tale.
The trailer ends with a telling line: “Any time people venture into the unknown, there is a cost.” While that quote is somewhat enigmatic in terms of the specifics of the cost being referred to, it also sums up what the series is about: the people who would embark on such a perilous journey for the sake of discovery. Though it alludes to the notion of sacrifice, it also speaks to the power of humanity’s pioneering spirit, something that might be considered in short supply at the moment.
To Hulu and Willimon’s credit, The First will be the first of two very grounded space-faring projects coming out this fall. October will see the premiere of Damian Chazelle’s Neil Armstrong film, First Man, with Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy. Though they depict dramatically different missions to space, the themes are remarkably complementary. For anyone who dreams of heading to the stars, there's plenty of entertainment this fall to keep you dreaming.
The First premiers Friday, September 14 on Hulu.