How The Right Stuff highlights the bond between astronaut wives
The Right Stuff, which debuts Friday on Disney+, focuses on the lives of the first Americans in space, the Mercury 7 astronauts. But the show also highlights the experiences of their wives, who have their own powerful stories to tell.
While the series isn't The Astronaut Wives Club, viewers will become acquainted with Annie Glenn (Nora Zehetner), Trudy Cooper (Eloise Mumford), and Louise Shepard (Shannon Lucio), whose story lines are a significant part of the show. Aside from who they were to their spouses, the drama explores their contributions to one another's lives and society.
In an exclusive clip from the second episode, Annie and Trudy have a private discussion after sharing dinner together with their husbands, John Glenn (Patrick J. Adams) and Gordo Cooper (Colin O'Donoghue) at the Glenn home. Annie, who was an advocate for people with disabilities and communication disorders, and Trudy, a pilot in her own right, discuss their dreams and how they're dealing with their newfound fame.
"That's one of my favorite scenes from the whole show," Mumford tells EW about the clip above. "It was such a joy to explore the female relationships, especially since most of the scenes featuring us are between the husbands and wives, and the astronauts themselves. It was important to show the way these women interacted. When they first met most were strangers who were thrown into this insane, brand new world. They were dealing with unbelievable stressors that were particular to this situation. I love that we were able to explore what female friendship looks like, with all its complexities and nuances, and to have it reflected on screen is incredibly important and incredibly compelling."
The Right Stuff shows what the Mercury 7 astronauts, who were previously test pilots and were thrust into the spotlight when chosen by NASA, were like behind-the-scenes, which included plenty of booze and female fans keen to spend even one night of passion with them. Most of the astronauts were unable to remain loyal to their wives, with Shepard taking the lead as a compulsive philanderer while Glenn always remained true to his love, Annie.
Louise was given the nickname "St. Louise" by the astronaut wives for standing by her man no matter how unfaithful he was to her.
"Louise was known as Saint Louise, partly because of what she put up with but also because when she was in public, people would comment that she had this serene calm demeanor about her," Lucio explains. "A lot of that goes back to her childhood, how she was raised, and how she was taught to carry herself. But also because of her faith that gave her this really positive outlook of the world. And of course, there was also a dark side to Louise, as there is with everyone. At the center of that was her tumultuous relationship with her husband which was very complicated. I think they had a genuine love for one another and really needed each other but it was very imperfect. She enjoyed seeing him be part of the space program but there was a part of her that knew if he had decided to be a banker and live a simple life, that's what she would've wanted."
Gordo also struggled with remaining faithful to his wife, and eventually, the divorced in the early 1970s.
"Trudy was a total badass," Mumford exclaims. "Getting to sink my teeth into that, to get to see what that bravery felt like to slip on was really incredibly inspiring to me. And yet still, she was a woman limited by the times that she lived in. Gordo is tough because I think he did actually have a tremendous amount of respect for her, or else I don't think he would've been with someone as rad as she is."
The three actresses formed close friendships with one another during production and also left set with admiration for their on-screen husbands as well.
"I knew Patrick before this project which turned out to be really helpful," Zehetner explains. "He's an incredibly generous actor who takes his work very seriously. I remember this scene from episode 5 where we danced in a crowded party which was shown for just a few minutes in the final scene. But he asked me to take a dance lesson with him in preparation for it. Which, by the way, I have a video of and I intend to share it even though he's not going to like that! We learned a whole dance and nobody will see our hard work otherwise."
Adds Lucio, "Working with Jake was great! I think he really felt the pressure Alan was under because he was such a complex character who took his job seriously. It was so interesting the way our off-screen relationship began to mirror the one on-screen as he would come to me when he was trying to work something out about the character or something in the script. I didn't know him very well at that point but I soon realized that he trusts me the same way Alan trusted Louise. I thought that was very special."
And if fans are left wanting to learn more about these incredible women, all three tell EW they'd be down to take on the roles again in a spin-off.
"Tell the world! We'd love to do a spin-off," Zehetner says full of enthusiasm.
The Right Stuff two-episode premiere streams Oct. 9 on Disney+. New episodes will be released every Friday thereafter.
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