We love genuinely great movies about the journey into space. The Right Stuff, Apollo 13, and the documentary For All Mankind are all favorites. Now it seems like First Man, opening on October 12, will join those elite ranks.
First Man reunites La La Land filmmaker and star Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling. They tell the story of the journey to space through the voice of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. The film isn’t just a simple biopic, but a more ambitious story of everything it took to get to the moon — the engineering genius, the hard work, the personal sacrifice.
Here’s everything you need to know about First Man.
Years of Development
This fall movie season is wild, because two of the biggest films could have been Clint Eastwood movies. For years, Eastwood worked on a remake of A Star Is Born. That eventually passed to Bradley Cooper, who directed and stars in the film that is now in theaters. And in 2003, Eastwood began developing a film based on James R. Hansen’s book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong. Fifteen years ago! These movies take time.
Damien Chazelle signed on to direct First Man even before he made La La Land. The director’s film Whiplash had turned heads, and that put him in the pilot’s seat for the space race movie. He worked to develop the film with writer Josh Singer (Spotlight) even as he was making his acclaimed Los Angeles musical — and at some point in that process, around the end of 2015, Gosling signed on to star.
Focus On The Family
The best way to describe this new vision of Armstrong’s life is to let the director speak. He recently explained,
I was less interested in doing a biopic about Neil Armstrong and more about trying to figure out how we, as a nation, got to the moon. And in telling that story from Neil’s point of view, and also from Janet’s point of view, and trying to locate this grand, famous cosmic adventure at the level of a single family just trying to weather the storm.
In a different statement, he elaborated on the drive to make this specific movie.
My goal with this movie was to share with audiences the unseen, unknown aspects of America’s mission to the moon — particularly Neil Armstrong’s personal saga and what he may have been thinking and feeling during those famous few hours… This film is about one of the most extraordinary accomplishments not only in American history, but in human history. My hope is that by digging under the surface and humanizing the icon, we can better understand just how difficult, audacious and heroic this moment really was.
You know that Ryan Gosling plays Neil Armstrong. Claire Foy plays his first wife, Janet Shearon. As a match for Gosling, Corey Stoll plays fellow Apollo 11 crew member Buzz Aldrin, who was the second man to set foot on the moon.
The film highlights the work and sacrifices of other great men and women. Jason Clarke plays Ed White, who in 1965 became the first American to walk in space. He was killed during an Apollo 1 test, which stalled the manned space program. Kyle Chandler appears as Deke Slayton, one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts, and eventually a chief officer at NASA.
There’s Christopher Abbott as David Scott, who was on the Gemini 8 with Armstrong, and Patrick Fugit as Elliot See, who was also part of the Gemini mission crew with Armstrong. Lucas Haas plays Apollo 11 crew member Michael Collins, and Shea Whigham plays the famous Gus Grissom while John David Whalen plays John Glenn.
We could go on and on. Also appearing are Olivia Hamilton, Kris Swanberg, Pablo Schreiber, Cory Michael Smith, Ethan Embry, Ciarán Hinds, and many more. This is a huge story with a massive cast.
To The Moon!
We love the irony of a film about going to the Moon being one of the most grounded films of the fall. Chazelle’s approach to the story, connecting it directly to people who gave everything to achieve something extraordinary, lifts the movie out of the range of spectacle. It’s more than that; First Man is a celebration of the amazing things we can do together.
First Man opens on October 12, get tickets now!