It’s been just over two years since Neil Armstrong left this planet for the afterlife, and eleven years since discussions first began for the legendary astronaut to get his own biopic. Thankfully, there has been some positive movement, as production company Temple Hill is in talks with festival-friendly director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) to helm First Man.
First Man is based on James Hansen’s 2005 biography First Man: A Life of Neil A. Armstrong, and will presumably cover Armstrong’s military career going into his work at NASA, where he did that whole “first man to walk on the moon” business. Armstrong was an accomplished Navy bomber, taking over 70 missions during the Korean War, all before he was 23 years old. He went on to do test piloting for the Air Force for a while before being brought in to NASA for the Gemini and Apollo programs. And it was on the Apollo 11 mission, with fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, that Armstrong first set foot on the moon, uttering those now-unforgettable words.
Though he directed 2009’s Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, Chazelle didn’t really break onto the scene until last year, when his Whiplash short won the Short Film Jury Prize at Sundance. He then expanded his film, added up-and-comer Miles Teller, and took it back to the festival, where it won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award. We can expect to hear the film’s name even more once Oscar season kicks into high gear. Take a look at the trailer below.
Chazelle also wrote Whiplash, as well as Eugenio Mira’s suspenseful thriller Grand Piano, but the First Man script will be written by Josh Singer. Singer’s had a history on TV, producing and writing for shows such as Fringe and The West Wing. On the feature side, he penned last year’s Wikileaks flick The Fifth Estate and the currently in-production Spotlight, the Catholic Church scandal thriller he co-wrote with director Tom McCarthy. He’s obviously interested in tackling real world stories now, and let’s hope Armstrong’s story is handled with a slightly more deft touch than Fifth Estate depicted Julian Assange.
Back in 2003, First Man was preemptively acquired by Warner Bros. and Clint Eastwood, who tried for a while to get this project off the ground, obviously to no avail. And honestly, there’s still a good chance that the biopic could change hands by the time the first scene is shot, as Chazelle’s next project is the musical La La Land, where he’ll reteam with Teller, who plays a jazz pianist who falls in love with an actress played by Emma Watson. Here’s hoping he sticks around though, before some Hollywood hack tries to get involved.