In November 2015, it was reported that Ryan Gosling was circling a Neil Armstrong biopic for La La Land director Damien Chazelle. Today, THR reports that Gosling has finally signed on to star in the film, First Man, which will chronicle Armstrong’s time in the space program from 1961 to 1969 when he became the first man to walk on the moon. Per THR, “The goal is to explore the sacrifices and the cost—on Armstrong and on the nation—of one of the most dangerous missions in history.”
While the film will be referred to as a “biopic” for shorthand, when spoken to Chazelle back in February 2015 for Whiplash, Chazelle revealed that “it’s a mission movie” that’s really more about the landing than just Armstrong. With Spotlight co-writer Josh Singer handling the script, it sounds like an exciting way to approach the space race with Armstrong as the focal point to tell a larger story about America’s efforts to get to the moon.
Gosling’s obviously a solid choice to lead the picture. He excels as a leading man, and I’m sure that Singer’s script will give him plenty of material to work with. The actor recently wrapped filming on Blade Runner 2049 and shooting on First Man is expected to happen next year.
First Man is based on James Hansen’s book First Man: A Life of Neil A. Armstrong. Here’s the synopsis:
Marking the forty-fifth anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing, First Man by James Hansen offers the only authorized glimpse into the life of America’s most famous astronaut, Neil Armstrong—the man whose “one small step” changed history.
“The Eagle has landed.”
When Apollo 11 touched down on the moon’s surface in 1969, the first man on the moon became a legend. In First Man, Hansen explores the life of Neil Armstrong. Based on over fifty hours of interviews with the intensely private Armstrong, who also gave Hansen exclusive access to private documents and family sources, this “magnificent panorama of the second half of the American twentieth century” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) is an unparalleled biography of an American icon.
Upon his return to earth, Armstrong was honored and celebrated for his monumental achievement. He was also—as James R. Hansen reveals in this fascinating and important biography—misunderstood. Armstrong’s accomplishments as engineer, test pilot, and astronaut have long been a matter of record, but Hansen’s unprecedented access to private documents and unpublished sources and his interviews with more than 125 subjects (including more than fifty hours with Armstrong himself) yield this first in-depth analysis of an elusive American celebrity still renowned the world over.
In a riveting narrative filled with revelations, Hansen vividly recreates Armstrong’s career in flying, from his seventy-eight combat missions as a naval aviator flying over North Korea to his formative transatmospheric flights in the rocket-powered X-15 to his piloting Gemini VIII to the first-ever docking in space. These milestones made it seem, as Armstrong’s mother Viola memorably put it, “as if from the very moment he was born—farther back still—that our son was somehow destined for the Apollo 11 mission.”
For a pilot who cared more about flying to the Moon than he did about walking on it, Hansen asserts, Armstrong’s storied vocation exacted a dear personal toll, paid in kind by his wife and children. For the forty-five years since the Moon landing, rumors have swirled around Armstrong concerning his dreams of space travel, his religious beliefs, and his private life.
In a penetrating exploration of American hero worship, Hansen addresses the complex legacy of the First Man, as an astronaut and as an individual. In First Man, the personal, technological, epic, and iconic blend to form the portrait of a great but reluctant hero who will forever be known as history’s most famous space traveler. [Amazon]