Damien Chazelle wanted new challenge of First Man
Damien Chazelle wanted to make Neil Armstrong film 'First Man' because it is the "polar opposite" to 'La La Land'.
The 33-year-old Oscar-winning director tells the story on screen of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon with Ryan Gosling playing the first man to step foot on the moon, astronaut Armstrong, in the biographical space drama and he relished the challenge of making such a different movie to the musical.
Speaking to The Guardian, Chazelle said: "I liked doing something that felt like the polar opposite of 'La La Land', just as 'La La Land' felt like the polar opposite of 'Whiplash', at least emotionally. But I was also just interested in exploring a different world - this was my first time doing something that wasn't directly tied to my own life experience.
"I related to it as a movie about trying to turn dreams into reality, somewhat similar to 'La La Land' and 'Whiplash'. I also wanted to give a sense of the work involved in becoming an astronaut, which movies tend to obscure - the sweaty hands, the vomit on the shirt, the dirty, gritty, cobbled-together aspect of it."
Chazelle - who had his career breakthrough with 2014 jazz drama 'Whiplash' - admits he learnt about space travel from making the movie and he was determined to make his scenes as accurate as possible.
He added: "I would say I was more interested in movies about space travel than space travel itself [as a kid]. I always wanted to do art, whether it was music or movies or drawing or storytelling. Certainly I learned more about space travel by doing this movie than ever before. It took one trip to Houston early on to slap me in the face and go, 'Oh s**t, if I actually want to do this I have got to buckle up and learn.' "
It is the second time Chazelle and Gosling have worked together following the enormous success they shared on 'La La Land' and the filmmaker insists the 37-year-old actor shares some of the "obsessiveness" and "determination" to "get things right" that Armstrong had, which made him perfect to play the real-life American hero.
Chazelle said: "He does a deep dive [into the character] and has some of Neil Armstrong's obsessiveness and determination to get things right. In between takes he'd be huddled off with one of the astronauts we had on set, asking ,'Did that look OK?' 'Was it this button or that button?' 'For the next scene I have to pull the RCS switch - do you pull them fast or slow?' He's just like a hawk for all those things."