‘The Right Stuff’ Guys on the Intense Competition Between the Astronauts (VIDEO)

On Friday, October 9, The Right Stuff, a breathtaking new drama series about the Mercury 7, the daredevil US military test pilots recruited to become America’s first astronauts, lands on Disney+. Based on Tom Wolfe’s nonfiction bestseller, it spans 1959-61 and covers their recruitment, training, first mission – and complicated personal lives.

Early in the series premiere, we see exactly what it means to be made of “the right stuff” in a scene where eventual recruit, Air Force pilot Gordo Cooper, played by Colin O’Donoghue (Once Upon a Time), takes to the sky for what turns out to be a devastating test flight.

“These were guys willing to sit in machines that no one had sat in before, that there was no manual for, that they had to push to the absolute limit to see how far it could go before it began to malfunction,” O’Donoghue told TV Insider ahead of the premiere.

After the gutsiest of the gutsy are selected for training, we learn more about their less heroic, more human, sides, especially the intense competition between straightlaced legendary Marine pilot John Glenn, played but Suits vet Patrick J. Adams, and rebellious Navy pilot Alan Shepard, portrayed by Jake McDorman.

“[John Glenn] deeply believed he had a purpose in the world and to work as hard as possible to achieve those goals. I was inspired by that,” Adams reveals to us here. “He wasn’t without his fault, his ambition key among them. Sometimes he let it get the best of him.”

Of Shepard, McDorman shares, “He had a rebellious spirit. He wasn’t a naturally gifted pilot even though he loved flying. He had to buckle down and work hard at it. It established a ruthless work ethic.”

Produced by National Geographic and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way, both known for high-budget, award-winning programming, this one should rocket to the top of your watch list!

The Right Stuff, Series Premiere, Friday, October 9, Disney+