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Natascha McElhone to Exit ‘Designated Survivor,’ Joins Hulu Mars Series ‘The First’

Designated Survivor” star Natascha McElhone will depart the ABC drama after its second season to join the upcoming Hulu series “The First,” Variety has confirmed.

McElhone plays Alex Kirkman, the wife of President Tom Kirkman, in the hit series about a low-level Cabinet member who becomes President when everyone ahead of him in the line of succession is killed.

In addition to “Designated Survivor,” McElhone has starred in the TV series such as “Californication” and “Saints & Strangers.” On the film side, she has appeared in “The Truman Show,” “Ronin,” “Killing Me Softly,” and “Solaris.”

She is repped by Paradigm in the U.S. and The Artists Partnership in the U.K.

McElhone will star opposite Sean Penn in “The First,” which will chronicle efforts to send the first manned mission to Mars. The exact nature of her role is not known at this time, though she is believed to be playing the CEO of the company funding the mission. Hulu gave the show a straight-to-series order in May.

Westward Productions, an independent film and television studio founded by series creator Beau Willimon and his producing partner Jordan Tappis, will own and produce “The First.” The series, commissioned by Channel 4 and Hulu, will be co-financed by Hulu, Channel 4, IMG and AG Studios. “The First” will premiere on Hulu in the US and on Channel 4 in the UK and Ireland. IMG will handle all international rights.

The series will go into production this year and is slated to premiere on Hulu and Channel 4 in 2018. Executive producers are Willimon and Tappis for Westward. The series was commissioned for Channel 4 by Simon Maxwell, head of international drama, and Beth Willis, head of drama. For Hulu the series was commissioned by Craig Erwich, senior vice president of content, and Beatrice Springborn, vice president of content development.

Deadline first reported this news

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