Neil Armstrong may have been one of the most famous men in the world, but in some ways, he was also one of its most unknowable. Damien Chazelle’s new film First Man attempts to lift the veil on Armstrong (played by Ryan Gosling), covering everything from his home life with his wife, Janet (Claire Foy), to his historic mission to the moon. It’s a deeply personal film that’s at once intimate and cosmic, and when EW sat down with Chazelle, Gosling, and Foy at the Toronto International Film Festival, they opened up about how they approached the film about such an enigmatic man.
“There’s a mystery to him,” Chazelle explains. “There’s a mystery to that event as well, even though [the moon landing] is one of the most famous events in history, and Armstrong’s one of the most famous names of all time. There’s still so much that’s unknown and so much I was surprised to learn about him and about that event and about the lead-up to that event.
“I wanted to try to demythologize that a little bit and get out at what that endeavor — not just for Armstrong but for Janet and for the entire nation — really meant,” Chazelle adds.
The film takes a deep dive into Armstrong’s path to the stars, from the death of his young daughter to the loss of his fellow astronauts. “Neil and Janet and his family lived an extraordinary life,” Gosling says. “Their lives, I think, are worth the closer examination and the tribute I feel that the film attempts to pay to it.”
First Man is in theaters now.