If you have yet to go out and watch Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, you’re missing out. Not only because it’s easily one of this year’s greatest films, but because two of the main players in the film are re-teaming for a project that has enormous potential. A number of weeks ago, news was floating around that La La Land star Ryan Gosling was circling Chazelle’s next film, which would be a Neil Armstrong biopic. As of today, it’s become official that Gosling has indeed signed on to star as Armstrong in Chazelle’s First Man.
First reported by The Hollywood Reporter, First Man will follow Armstrong’s time in the space program from 1961 to 1969, which includes Armstrong being the first man to walk on the moon. According to 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.” But per Collider, they said that Chazelle revealed to them that First Man is in fact “”a mission movie” that’s really more about the landing than just Armstrong.”
Chazelle as a director is flat-out one of the best working today. He’s now crushed two stories in a row that are drastically different in Whiplash and La La Land, with First Man again being something completely new for the filmmaker. And with having Spotlight co-writer Josh Singer penning the script, First Man is sounding like a film that in no way should be missed when the time comes. We’ve seen plenty of space films before, but never one chronicling our first steps on the moon. Chazelle’s First Man sounds like an interesting and exciting way to approach that story with Armstrong being the center point of one of our greatest accomplishments.
As for Gosling, there’s no better choice in my opinion. I’ve always enjoyed him as an actor, but after seeing La La Land, I think he’s one of the best in the business today. While I still feel like he’s wrongfully underrated, he has excelled at every leading role he’s been given (have you seen Drive?). And now with his next role (after Blade Runner 2049) having Chazelle behind the camera and a script from Spotlight‘s co-writer, he’ll no doubt have plenty of great material to work with. First Man is expected to begin filming next year with no set release date as of yet. The film is based on the book by James Hansen, 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.