‘For All Mankind’ Star Tyner Rushing Shares Her Thoughts on Season 4 (and That Epic Finale), Excitement for Season 5, and More!

Tyner Rushing in For All Mankind

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Season 4 of For All Mankind blasted us into the future eight years after Season 3. With the year being 2003, Happy Valley has seen massive growth on Mars. And the space program’s focus has shifted to capturing and mining valuable, mineral-rich asteroids that can potentially change the entire future of both Earth and Mars. However, as this season’s ten episodes have unfolded, rising tensions with the residents of Happy Valley threaten to risk everything that the program has been working towards.

With the season finale now streaming, I had the opportunity to chat with series star Tyner Rushing, who plays Samantha Massey. Samantha’s role is pivotal in the finale, placing her squarely at the center of a mammoth cliffhanger. And while there isn’t an official renewal for Season 5 yet, I did chat with Tyner about her hopes for Season 5, what she’d love to see for her character, her favorite moments and biggest challenges from Season 4, and more.

Check out the full interview below.

When you first got the part of Samantha, had you watched the series before, or were you new to it?

Tyner Rushing: I was new to it. When I got the audition, I watched a couple of episodes of season one, but I didn’t have time to watch all of it after booking– since I had to move and start filming in 10 days. I finished it throughout filming.

Tyner Rushing and Joel Kinnaman in For All Mankind
Tyner Rushing and Joel Kinnaman in “For All Mankind” / Photo Credit: Apple TV+

Can you talk a bit about the type of research and prep work you did to prepare and understand not only the technical aspects of what Samantha would need to know living and working on Mars – but also the isolation and the impact that that has to have on her mental health? Even though she’s around other people, she’s in this confined space, and that has to take a toll on her mental health and her personality. How did you approach that?

Tyner Rushing: That’s such a thoughtful question. And, yeah, a huge part of it. That’s something that I talked about with Ben and Matt [Ben Nedivi and Matt Wolpert], the showrunners. Happy Valley, living in that confined space does amplify things like interpersonal conflict. And you might not be feeling as well, physically and emotionally. Your world gets a lot smaller.

So, that was one thing we kept in mind as she was grieving the loss of her friend after the first episode. She’s witnessing the injustices around her. She’s super stressed and living out a form of PTSD, in a way. And a reprieve from all that – is getting to hang out in this little honky tonk/speakeasy on the base. We kept in mind how seriously they would value that space. Because they really don’t have much else to relieve stress.

Honestly, just often being on the same set, wearing the same costume, and going to this dark stage every day created that world for me, in a tiny way. I got antsy, like, I just wanted to be outside between takes and setups because a little claustrophobia did start to creep in. I was like, man, I’m feeling just a small bit of what it might actually feel like to be up there.

I trained with the stunt team on wires and learned to move to look like you’re in zero-g. It’s pretty difficult.

It was funny (laughs). They really tried to train the ballet out of me. But couldn’t stop doing the ballet hands. They’re like, “Tyner, you look like a dancer. Hold your hand like this instead, like a little claw.” I’ve noticed that you can tell sometimes, still on screen, like, I can’t get that out of my body.

Having Garrett Reisman, our real live astronaut consultant, on set was incredible too. And I was listening to Krys Marshall’s podcast. There’s so much good info there.

Toby Kebbell and Tyner Rushing in For All Mankind
Toby Kebbell and Tyner Rushing in “For All Mankind” / Photo Credit: Apple TV+

This entire season had me stressed out. The first half of the season, I was super stressed out with everything with Miles because I knew at some point that the black market stuff would backfire. And I had almost expected your character to get tangled up in that because of the bond that we see you two developing throughout those earlier episodes. And then, of course, the stakes all get higher at the end of the season.

Did the evolution of your relationship with Miles surprise you? When you were reading the scripts this season, were you surprised by how their relationship evolved? And the choices Samantha made at the end of the season?

Tyner Rushing: That’s such a good question. It’s unsurprising that she doesn’t get totally wrapped up in Miles’s stuff. I think she has pretty high standards for herself and the people around her. You know, this presents in various ways. But I think once he doesn’t live up to those and keeps making these decisions that don’t seem in line with her integrity, she distances herself.

I also think she catches some feelings and that’s no good. He’s got a family he’s trying to make it work with. So, I think there are a couple of things that sort of make her take a step back from him. 

And they’re up there for completely different reasons, too. She’s there to explore space. She’s longed to be an astronaut since she was a little girl, seeing all these women go to space. And so this is the closest that she can get. This is her avenue. So, she’s not there for the money like him. But she sees the inequity and the problems– her friends are dying. 

As the season goes on, it almost does feel like she’s kind of beaten down. And the choices she makes towards the end are a bit surprising. But I do think she agrees that in order for Mars to have a real future, and for her and the workers to get what they were promised, the asteroid needs to come to Mars.  She’s willing to put herself at risk and take the steps for that to work out.

Tyner Rushing in For All Mankind
Tyner Rushing in “For All Mankind” / Photo Credit: Apple TV+

While there hasn’t been an official renewal announcement yet – if it does get renewed and we do have a time jump forward, which I assume, based on where the finale, it would be 2012 – what would you like to see explored in Season 5?

I can only hope that Samantha gets to do more space stuff, become a full-fledged astronaut, and live out her dream.

But I joked with the writers last year that I want her to fall in love with an alien (laughs). Could that happen? They just sort of laughed at me.

The team is great at building out character arcs– I’m sure they’ll surprise me. I wouldn’t have anticipated even how the 4th season unfolded.

Tyner Rushing and Joel Kinnaman in For All Mankind
Tyner Rushing and Joel Kinnaman in “For All Mankind” / Photo Credit: Apple TV+

I mean, who’s to say aliens are not a part of reality?

Tyner Rushing: Totally.

Is there more you want to see with Samantha regarding her backstory or exploring her personal life?

Tyner Rushing: Yeah, absolutely. I think we need that. And I imagine that if Sam continues, they’ll go into that. You meet a character, you find out what they’re about in the present moment, and then more gets revealed about their childhood and history. The writers are really smart in that way.

Sam’s a bit mysterious at this point. You know a little about her background, but I think there’s much more to be told there.

Tyner Rushing in “For All Mankind” / Photo Credit: Apple TV+

Was there a moment from filming this season that sticks with you as a core memory?

Tyner Rushing: The space fight with Palmer, for sure. It’s just so epic. I knew that they had been wanting to have a space fight in the show. For all of the seasons, they’d been wanting that, and they finally did it with us.

And then my first scene with Krys Marshall, who plays Danielle Poole, that was really special. She is just lovely. And to get to play the nuance of that scene. Samantha is speaking to someone much higher up, someone she’s respected and admired her whole life. 

To be coming to this woman and asking to be seen and advocated for, Samantha is nervous. We don’t see her vulnerability a lot in this season. But you get to see it there.

Tyner Rushing in For All Mankind
Tyner Rushing in “For All Mankind” / Photo Credit: Apple TV+

Speaking about the space fight. I have to ask, what was filming that scene like?

Tyner Rushing: We rehearsed it probably for a couple of days. I had a mad cold, actually, when we were rehearsing it. I ended up giving it to the whole stunt team, which was awful. So we all had this cold, and then they had it while we were filming.

The stunt team on For All Mandkind is just incredible. My stuntwoman Sierra Hoyle taught me as much of the fight stuff as I could do. Myk Watford and I did quite a bit. But, the stunt performers are who really captured the wide shots with the flips and stuff.

We would start stunts and then complete them. And add the close-ups and things like that. But it was super fun. I love getting physical on set. Even if it’s painful and uncomfortable, it’s just so much fun to get to move because it’s like dancing, in a way, like fighting choreographed.

For All Mankind
Tyner Rushing in “For All Mankind” / Photo Credit: Apple TV+

Does being hooked up to wires while filming and trying to simulate that weightlessness impact your performance? Does that kind of help you get into character? Or is it more challenging because you’re focused on making it look like you’re weightless while also trying to deliver your lines?

Tyner Rushing: It’s more challenging all around. If we were actually floating in zero gravity, that’d be different. But we’re on wires and this holster thing is wrapped around you. It’s tight. You’re having to lift your head up and extend your torso while trying to look weightless. 

Actually, in the last episode, when I was doing the space fight, I wore a costume with a really heavy helmet that wasn’t supported by the body of the spacesuit. When horizontal, my head couldn’t hold it up. I think at one point, they had to attach a wire to the helmet to help support it. That may have helped with the scene since she’s struggling.

Tyner Rushing in For All Mankind
Tyner Rushing in “For All Mankind” / Photo Credit: Apple TV+

Do you have a favorite episode from the season? Is it the finale?

Tyner Rushing: Episode four was a fave. Dan Liu has a specific vision and seeing how it all came together- the moments between Sam and Miles- was rewarding. So I’d say episode four and ten.

Do you have anything else you’re working on right now or that’s in the pipeline?

Tyner Rushing: I’m excited to see what this year holds. Hopefully more For All Mankind. And I would also love to do an indie film or a musical. I’m itching to sing and dance again.

Last question for you: I know you’ve spent significant time in Atlanta (which is where we are based); I’m curious when your fellow actors come to Atlanta to film, what advice do you give them? Are there certain areas of town you encourage them to visit? Or specific restaurants? What are your ATL words of wisdom?

Tyner Rushing: Oh, yeah! Atlanta is such a special place. I love Cabbagetown, Old Fourth Ward, Grant Park. Those are my stomping grounds.

I always suggest Little Tart for their pastries. I’m very food-oriented. Little Tart is always my first and last stop. And Gigi’s Italian Kitchen and Talat Market– I think they are doing spectacular things.

Getting out, walking, riding bikes, and trying to stay out of the traffic is key. But it’s such a good city, it really is.

For All Mankind Season 4 is now streaming on Apple TV+. Be sure to check out the season finale, which debuted this morning!


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