Over the past 25 years, Parker Posey has played everything from a snobby dog owner to a gaudy comic book villainess, but the actress known for stealing scenes in Best in Show and Superman Returns has never ventured into outer space.
In Netflix’s updated take on the classic 1960s series Lost in Space (April 13), Posey portrays Dr. Smith, the sneaky stowaway who creates danger for the Robinson family. We talked to Posey about her out-of-this-world role.
Were you a fan of the original?
I adored it as a kid. I would wake up at 5:30 in the morning to watch it. The static would turn to color bars at 6 a.m. and then Lost in Space would come on. It was my first relationship with television. I was such a fan.
Jonathan Harris’ Dr. Smith was iconic. How did you make the character your own?
I gave her a bit of pain. She’s been through a lot and isn’t as well off as the Robinson family. She’s got a con going on, but I didn’t ham it up too much. That said, I was laughing on the inside. It’s so much fun to play that kind of character.
Dr. Smith has always been portrayed as a man. How did it feel to play a female version?
I think [series creators Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless] didn’t want anyone to imitate Jonathan Harris. They wanted something different, and I was just happy I belonged. There’s not a lot of parts out there like this for women, so it was great that something so unusual and unexpected fell into my lap.
How much fun did you have on that set?
The second I was on the spaceship and saw all the knobs and buttons and everything—even as an adult—I immediately started pretending to fly the ship. It’s like playing in your backyard.
Dr. Smith’s relationship with the robot is a huge part of Lost in Space. This time, there’s also a chicken on board. What was it like working with a chicken?
The chicken was great. We were a team. After filming scenes where I am fighting for my life, I’d go in the makeup trailer and all anyone could talk about was how the chicken was so funny. The crew couldn’t get enough of that chicken.