Meet the Astronauts of 'The Right Stuff' & Go Inside the Disney+ Series
On the Orlando, Florida, set of The Right Stuff, it's May 1961, and NASA astronaut Alan Shepard (Jake McDorman, Limitless) is suiting up to be, he hopes, the first American in space. Watching him lock into the iconic silver gear and bubble helmet gives you chills: He doesn't know if he'll live or die, but he's grinning ear to ear with pride.
"Shepard was born to fly," says McDorman, who devoured the pilot's biography Light This Candle before shooting. "He lived for this stuff — it trickled down from the planes he'd fly to the cars he'd drive to the way he'd walk into a room. He was an all-out fighter jock and proud to be one."
Guts and glory drive all the men in this eight-part drama about the United States' first astronauts. Based on the Tom Wolfe nonfiction bestseller (which also spawned a 1983 movie), it spans 1959 to 1961 and covers the selection, training and mission of the so-called Mercury 7, the military test pilots tasked with beating the Soviet Union in the race to get a man into space. The chosen: Shepard, engineer Deke Slayton (Micah Stock, Escape at Dannemora), prankster Wally Schirra (Aaron Staton, Mad Men), veteran Gus Grissom (Michael Trotter, Underground), straitlaced man of faith John Glenn (Patrick J. Adams, Suits), haunted Gordo Cooper (Colin O'Donoghue, Once Upon a Time) and "the poet," Scott Carpenter (James Lafferty, One Tree Hill).
The seven were paraded before the press as all-American heroes with perfect families in order to build public support for the space program, but the behind-the-scenes story told here includes extramarital affairs and ongoing beefs, especially between Shepard and Glenn."You need that ego to survive, but it gets you in trouble," Adams says. "Eventually you have to put your ambition and jealousy aside to fulfill a purpose."
Scroll down for more from the cast about their characters and filming the glossy space race saga.
The Right Stuff, Premiere, Friday, Oct. 9, Disney+