Arguably the biggest success story to come out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival was the breakthrough for director Damien Chazelle for his debut feature Whiplash. The intense drama has received plenty of critical acclaim and earned both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize. It remains to be seen if this movie will be able to power through to awards season (Sony Pictures Classics should at least push J.K. Simmons for Best Supporting Actor), but it’s definitely put Chazelle on the map. Although his next feature will be the musical La La Land with Miles Teller and Emma Watson, he’s going to be taking a giant leap with his follow-up: First Man, a biopic about Neil Armstrong.
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According to THR, screenwriter Josh Singer (The Fifth Estate) is set to pen the screenplay, which will be based James Hansen‘s book First Man: A Life of Neil A. Armstrong. Per THR, “Hansen had full access to Armstrong’s family as well as NASA when he wrote the tome.”
I suppose the challenge in telling the story of Neil Armstrong is making his life dramatic as opposed to Armstrong simply being defined by his historic achievement. Then again, this could be along the lines of The Right Stuff, where the development of the program is just as important as the pilots if not more so, although that movie has Chuck Yaeger (Sam Shepard) as its anchor.
Singer will have time to crack the script since La La Land has yet to go into production (Emma Watson is currently busy owning the world with amazing speeches), but he definitely has experience when it comes to handling real-life drama. In addition to scripting The Fifth Estate, he also wrote the screenplay for Tom McCarthy‘s Spotlight, which is about how The Boston Globe broke the story on the Catholic church sex abuse scandal.