Spending time in space can result in symptoms commonly associated with aging on earth. Growth spurts in space have yet to be studied, though. When Lost in Space finally returns for season 2, fans will immediately notice that Will Robinson has matured from child to space teen. Production on season 1 started in February of 2017, meaning when season 2 premieres on December 24th, it’ll be nearly three years since Maxwell Jenkins stepped into Will Robinson’s shoes. Since we first met Jenkins during the filming of season 1, he’s grown nearly a foot. For the show, Jenkins’ physical growth opens up opportunities for character development.
Showrunner Zack Estrin was paired with Jenkins during roundtable interviews at New York Comic Con and addressed how Jenkins’ maturity plays into the storylines of the upcoming season: “We want to take those kids who may have been 11 or 12 when they watched the first season, and follow their growth. I want to write what a 13 or 14 year old might want to see so that they feel like they’re growing up with Will or they’re growing up with Penny. The storytelling is not quite as innocent.”
The long production schedule for Lost in Space, nearly 21 months between seasons 1 and 2, all but ensured they’d need a narrative leap forward. Season two picks up seven months after the Robinsons failed to return to the Resolute and were thrust into another galaxy. While the challenges for Will Robinson are more complex, Jenkins says the make-up of the character we met in season 1 remains in tact.
“When I first discovered Will Robinson, his relationship with the Robot really hit home because I have two rescued pit bulls at home and pit bulls have a bad reputation,” Jenkins says. “They are known to be aggressive, but at the end of the day, they’re fierce, they’re loyal, and they’re protectors.”
Jenkins continues: “And that is what the Robot is to Will, and that’s what my dogs are to me. But also Will is very different than a lot of other people because he has something that I think a lot of people in our world should have, which is compassion. That’s his superpower. That is what makes Will Robinson who he is. I think more people need to have that quality.”
The compassion and empathy that Jenkins conveys in his scenes as Will Robinson is exactly what Estrin and the creative team saw in the now 14-year-old actor when he first auditioned for the show.
“He has this true heart of honesty that is genuine,” Estrin says. “To us we’re like, well that’s Will. And then on top of that, then he read the scene and cried and we all cried and then that was it. There was no question.”
Writing the character of Will is personal to Estrin, who has children roughly the same age as Jenkins. Estrin recalls talking with his family about the potential to work on Lost in Space. They helped sway his decision.
“My kids were like Dad we’ve never been able to watch anything that you made,” he remembers. “They started saying, ‘wouldn’t it be cool to think about what would happen to us if this happened with our family?’”
After watching the premiere of season 1 with his family, Estrin says his daughter commented on how “cool” it was because “nobody makes shows like this for us.”
“It may allow them to feel more grown-up because it wasn’t just a kid show,” Estrin says. “It wasn’t one of those cheaper, cheesier things that it feels like. And it actually made her feel grown-up for having been able to watch it.”