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Natascha McElhone To Star In Beau Willimon’s ‘The First’ Hulu Series, Will Depart ‘Designated Survivor’

Natascha McElhone

EXCLUSIVE: Natascha McElhone is set to star opposite Sean Penn in The First, House of Cards creator Beau Willimon’s straight-to-series drama slated to premiere on Hulu and U.K.’s Channel 4 in 2018.


British actress McElhone is currently the female lead opposite Kiefer Sutherland on the ABC drama series Designated Survivor, playing President Tom Kirkman’s (Sutherland) wife, Alex Kirkman. She is still filming Designated Survivor‘s second season, which premieres tonight. After wrapping her commitment to the D.C. thriller drama later this season, McElhone will segue to The First.

Written by Willimon, The First follows the first human mission to Mars, exploring the challenges of taking the first steps toward interplanetary colonization. The story focuses not only on the astronauts, but also on their families and loved ones, as well as the ground team on Earth.

Details about McElhane’s role are not being revealed, but I hear her character is described as the visionary British CEO of the company behind the mission to Mars.

“What I so admire about Natascha’s work is the fearlessness and honesty she brings to every role,” said Willimon. “She’s a wonderfully talented adventurer of the spirit, and I’m thrilled to be embarking on this journey with her.”

Willimon is executive producing the series with his producing partner Jordan Tappis under their Westward Productions banner.

“I am so excited to work with original, maverick artists like Beau Willimon and Sean Penn — it’s a real privilege to be invited,” said McElhone. “As well as exploring Mars; I am thrilled to be accommodated by the brilliant planet Hulu and my favorite homegrown one of Channel 4.”

McElhone’s TV credits also include seven seasons as Karen, opposite David Duchovny, in the Showtime series Californication. On the big screen, she was recently seen in Mr. Church opposite Eddie Murphy and London Town with Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

The First, set to go into production later this year, will be co-financed by Hulu, Channel 4, IMG and AG Studios. IMG will handle sales in all territories.

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