First Man has been in development for some years – initially being tipped as a movie for Clint Eastwood to direct. The helm has now been taken by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), with a script by Josh Singer (Spotlight) – and the lead role is apparently now being considered by Ryan Gosling.
Based on the biography First Man: A Life Of Neil A. Armstrong, by James Hansen, the story charts the rise of the first man to walk on the surface of the moon. Armstrong’s career included many chapters – including time spent as an aerospace engineer, a naval aviator, a test pilot, and a university professor. He also served in the Korean War, and was the first civilian astronaut in space with his command role on the Gemini 8 in 1966.
It was Armstrong’s second space flight that garnered the most attention, however, as he took command of Apollo 11 in 1969, and spent two and a half hours on the lunar surface, with colleague Buzz Aldrin. During the years that followed, Armstrong was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, and the Congressional Gold Medal. He died in 2012 after vascular surgery.
The combination of talents here – with Chazelle, Singer and, possibly, Gosling – is a notable coup for Universal on a project that has had such a long gestation period. It would seem inevitable that, if Gosling is ultimately confirmed in the role, production will move up apace, and further casting announcements will soon follow. Gosling unarguably needs this kind of injection of high profile momentum into his career, which has been relatively quiet of late – the upcoming The Big Short notwithstanding. First Man is clearly the sort of project that a big studio would hope to be entering awards season with, so this is certainly space worth watching.