Steve Carell and Greg Daniels reunite for a brand new workplace comedy on Netflix - and this time the stakes are sky high. Gemma Dunn finds out more about the much-anticipated Space Force.

Steve Carell was sold on Netflix's latest offering after just two words.

The streaming giant's simple pitch of "Space Force" - a premise inspired by US President Donald Trump's declaration of a sixth military branch of the same name - immediately won the Hollywood actor over, but it was his chance to team up again with writer-producer Greg Daniels that sparked lift off.

Tagged as a workplace comedy, the 10-episode series puts co-creator Carell, 57, in the lead role of general Mark R. Naird, a decorated pilot who's thrown for a loop when he finds himself tapped to lead the newly formed agency.

Sceptical but dedicated, Naird and an eclectic team of scientists and "spacemen" are tasked by the White House with getting American boots on the moon (again!) in a hurry and achieving total space dominance.

"Just the name of it [Space Force] made me laugh!" Carell says of the sitcom.

"It seemed like a fun idea and we could make whatever we want because there were no parameters, there was nothing in place!" he recalls, Trump's branch having only been officially confirmed last December. "We knew nothing about the real Space Force, so we could kind of invent it as we went on."

"If you think about the brief of [the real] Space Force, 'Boots on the Moon by 2024', it's such an audacious and implausible mission," muses Daniels, 56, who worked with Carell on the American reboot of The Office.

"And so to picture Steve as a general who's been given this mission and having him negotiate with politicians and scientists to try and figure out a plan, just seemed like a funny opportunity. It spilled out very easily."

So what else do we need to know?


With Carell at the helm, it's little surprise the series boasts a stellar cast.

Joining him on his quest, among others, is John Malkovich, who stars as Dr Adrian Mallory, head science adviser to Space Force; Ben Schwartz as media consultant F Tony Scarapiducci; Tawny Newsome as Captain Angela Ali; and Jimmy O. Yang, who plays scientist, Dr Chan Kaifang.

Completing his family unit is Diana Silvers, who takes the role of Carell's daughter Erin; Lisa Kudrow as his long-supporting wife Maggie; and the late Fred Willard who appears as his elderly father.

"Everybody we asked wanted to do it!" chimes Carell. "We specifically wrote Mallory with John Malkovich in mind, not necessarily thinking that he'd ever want to do something like this, so we were shocked that he did!

"But it was an abundance of riches to ask friends. And there's a lot of people I'd never met before, but I was just fans of, so we got really lucky," notes the Anchorman favourite.

"Everyone just got along great, so it was a very fun place to be every day."

"Steve has a reputation not just for being super talented and funny, but also for being a person of integrity," adds Daniels, whose also known for his work on such hits as The Simpsons and Parks And Recreation. "So it was a magnet for great actors. It's ridiculous, really. It's a who's who of current comedy!"


Ever since Trump described outer space as "the world's new war-fighting domain", there's been somewhat of a question mark over Space Force's viability.

But while this show pokes fun at the real-world setup, its sole aim is not to skewer the concept - especially not the military aspect, say its co-creators.

"Both Greg Daniels and I have close relatives and friends in the military, my dad is a WWII veteran, so there's a lot of ingrained respect for the military," Carell confirms. "So we had no axe grind that way, but I think it was fertile in other ways, in terms of creating an environment for some comedic situations.

"It certainly wasn't our agenda to make fun of the military, but to use it as a backdrop for this kind of comedy."

"It's a comedy, and I think it's really important to laugh at ourselves and our leadership now, just as much as any other time," states Daniels, who spent valuable time with the team at Space X in the name of research. "But space is also a very optimistic and special subject matter...

"So many people are inspired by it and some of our best moments as a country were the Apollo missions. We wanted to capture the optimism of that and not mock that - and also capture the values of integrity that we install in this military lead character that [Steve] plays and do justice to that."

"The show is not apolitical, but it's more political fluid. It gives time to both sides of the equation and there is fault and humour to be found on both sides of anything, so that was more of our intent," Carell concludes.


At the end of the season, is there a core message for audiences?

"There is a message of hope; there's a message of the underdog taking on more than maybe he's able to but also proving he can handle himself," recognises Schwartz, who had previous form with Daniels on Parks And Recreation. "But first and foremost the show is there to make people laugh.

"I was excited to be part of a comedy, which especially now during quarantine, is an incredible outlet of relief and to push away anxiety. And you get to see John Malkovich in a comedy baby - what else do you need?"

"To me, what I found so reassuring was, 'Oh there's a person who's decent in a position of power'. That's a possibility," says Friends icon, Kudrow "It just makes you really hopeful, that we've had that [in Naird], and we do have that."

"Of course a big part of the comedy is chaos and failure, but if there is a message, I would say it was to work towards a common good [which] requires compromise and sacrifice always, I think, at least in my experience," adds The New Pope star Malkovich.

"I just want it to be fun," Carell finishes. "Greg and I, when we first started creating this, didn't want to do anything too heavy handed or alienating. We wanted to make some points, we wanted to be mildly satirical, but most of all we just wanted it to be a funny show that people can sit down and laugh with.

"So if that's the takeaway, then I'd be happy."

Space Force is available on Netflix now.