Add Sean Penn to the list of film stars turning to the small screen.
The two-time Oscar winner (Milk, Mystic River) will make his TV series-regular debut and star in Hulu's straight-to-series space drama The First.
From House of Cards creator Beau Willimon, The First is set in the near future and explores the first human mission to Mars and interplanetary colonization. The eight-episode drama focuses not only on the astronauts, but also on their families and loved ones, as well as the ground team on Earth. Details about Penn's character are being kept under wraps.
"I have such deep admiration for Sean's immense talent and extraordinary body of work," Willimon said. "I feel very lucky to be collaborating with an artist of his caliber."
Willimon created the drama and will write the script and executive produce alongside producing partner Jordan Tappis. Production will begin this year for a premiere on the streamer in 2018.
Penn has had numerous guest roles on TV series including Friends, Two and a Half Men, Ellen and more. He most recently voiced for an episode of Fox's Family Guy. On the feature side, he has five Academy Award nominations for best actor for his work, including for the films Dead Man Walking, Sweet and Lowdown and I Am Sam. Penn, who remains attached to star and exec produce HBO's Andrew Jackson miniseries American Lion, is repped by CAA and Hirsch Wallerstein.
Willimon and Tappis' Westward Productions will own and produce The First. Hulu is co-financing the ambitious drama alongside Channel 4 and IMG, the company that WME co-CEOs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell purchased for $2.4 billion in 2014. Senior vp content Craig Erwich and vp content development Beatrice Springborn developed the series for Hulu.
Penn's casting in The First (which was picked up in May as part of Hulu's upfront slate) comes as the streamer is riding high after taking home the best drama Emmy for The Handmaid's Tale. The win marked the first for a streamer in one of the top two categories at the Emmys, with Hulu topping deep-pocketed rivals Netflix and Amazon.
IMG will handle all international rights to The First.