Damien Chazelle chose Ryan Gosling to play Neil Armstrong because they have many traits in common.
Astronaut Neil had a reputation for being "cool under pressure, as well as notoriously private and introverted" and Damien admitted they were some of the main reasons he asked his 'La La Land' actor Ryan to star in 'First Man', which tells the story of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
He told The Hollywood Reporter: "I first pitched this movie to Ryan before we'd even done 'La La Land' together. So, I didn't know him personally when I first thought of him for Neil. I just knew him as an actor. I'd always wanted to work with him; I think he's one of the great actors of his time. Specifically, he has this unique ability to say so much with so little. For Neil, who was a man of such few words, I just knew I would need an actor who could communicate a tremendous amount of emotion and complexity of feeling, sometimes without any dialogue at all, or with just a simple one-sentence line. So all of that led me to Ryan, but getting to work with Ryan on 'La La Land' in between was further affirmation in my mind to just how great he could be in the role. He's such an immersive actor, he's such a dedicated actor, he just goes full out and builds his characters from the ground up. It just made me all the more excited to get on the set with him for this movie."
And Damien, 33, loved getting the change to portray the real man behind the heroic astronaut.
He said: "It was removing the veneer of mythology that I think has separated us and people of our generation from those events. We kind of think of it as though it were superheroes or Greek mythology. We don't really think of people like Neil Armstrong as an ordinary, [at times] uncertain, doubtful, scared, happy, sad, going-through-stuff human being. Rooting it at the human level, especially the family level through Neil and his wife Janet and what they were going through together, is what interested me. It felt like that would be the perspective through which we could then tell the audience a lot of things they didn't know. Because Neil was so private, we know so little about his private life, emotional life or all the emotional upheavals that he went through, that Janet went through, during that time. We also don't really know about what actually went on behind closed doors at NASA, and in those spacecrafts."
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