The last time Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling brought a movie to TIFF was in 2016 when they came with La La Land. The film went on to win the People’s Choice Award, followed by 6 Oscars the following year. When it was announced that the duo would be re-teaming up for the Neil Armstrong biopic First Man the word Oscar started being floating around once again, but it’s not a thought either of them want to be thinking about.
When asked about what it would feel like to get an Oscar nomination for First Man, Gosling didn’t want to talk about it. He said it would be a disservice to Armstrong, and instead he wants the focus on be on the movie itself. He said it was an honour to play Armstrong, and wanted to focus on making a good movie. Gosling even viewed recording Armstrong’s “One step for mankind” speech as a huge responsibility, and wanted to make sure he got it right. All in all, Gosling’s reaction to playing Armstrong was one about admiration and respect. You could tell he was fascinated by the man, even though he didn’t know a lot about him beforehand other than the fact that he landed on the moon. Gosling did say however that he had never had more help on a film, because he had access to Armstrong’s sons who were a huge help with his research, and were always available to answer any questions he might have.
Chazelle admitted that he had been wanting to do First Man for a long time. He’d actually started talking to Gosling to star in it before they began work on La La Land. What drew him to the story in the first place was the poetry in Armstrong’s life and passions. Armstrong may have had a hard time showing his emotions, but there was a depth to the man that made Chazelle interested in him. Chazelle like the fact that Armstrong was peeking behind the curtain in his attempt to see beyond what we could see from Earth. While he did find it difficult at times working on the film, after all it was the first time he was tackling not only subject matter he hadn’t written or at least experienced before, but also a true story, Chazelle found the experience to be rewarding.
As for the filming part of the movie, you need to know that the actors actually went through space boot camp to get ready for their roles. Not only that but the film used very little CGI effects, which meant the astronauts were cooped up in small, confined spaces for hours at a time. The cast surrounding Goslings all talked about the responsibilities living up to the men whose lives they were playing, and paid attention to the finer details. Actor Corey Stall who plays Buzz Aldrin even said it was the best researched movie he had ever been a part of.
And the final results? Neil Armstrong’s son’s liked it. They didn’t think anyone would want to tell their dad’s story, but they think he’d be pleased by what they saw on the screen. They called in very authentic, with great performances. Rich Armstrong said that even though he’s seen the film several times, he still cries every time he sees it. Now if that’s not good praise, it would be hard to figure out what is.
By: Roderick Thedorff
Photo: Emma McIntyre WireImageGetty for TIFF 04