"THE RIGHT STUFF" FROM NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SET TO LAUNCH ON DISNEY+ THIS FALL!
Disney announced today that the original scripted series THE RIGHT STUFF from National Geographic is set for a Fall launch on the streaming service, Disney+. Produced for National Geographic by Appian Way and Warner Horizon Scripted Television, the eight-episode, scripted series takes a clear-eyed look at what would become America’s first “reality show,” as ambitious astronauts and their families become instant celebrities in a competition that could kill them or make them immortal. The concept for THE RIGHT STUFF is adapted from Tom Wolfe’s iconic, bestselling nonfiction account of the early days of the U.S. space program. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson are executive producers, along with Mark Lafferty (CASTLE ROCK, HALT AND CATCH FIRE), who is showrunner.
The two men at the center of the story are Major John Glenn, a revered test pilot and committed family man with unwavering principles, portrayed by Patrick J. Adams (ORPHAN BLACK, SUITS, OLD SCHOOL), and Lieutenant Commander Alan Shepard, one of the best test pilots in Navy history, portrayed by Jake McDorman (LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, AMERICAN SNIPER, AQUAMARINE).
At the height of the Cold War in 1959, the Soviet Union dominates the space race. To combat a national sentiment of fear and decline, the U.S. government conceives of NASA’s Project Mercury, igniting a space race with the Soviets and making instant celebrities of a handful of the military’s most accomplished test pilots. These individuals, who come to be known as the Mercury Seven, are forged into heroes long before they have achieved a single heroic act. The nation’s best engineers estimate they need several decades to make it into outer space. They are given two years.
The rest of the Mercury Seven includes Lieutenant Gordon Cooper, portrayed by Colin O’Donoghue (ONCE UPON A TIME, THE RITE), the youngest of the seven who was selected to everyone’s surprise; Wally Schirra, portrayed by Aaron Staton (MAD MEN, CASTLE ROCK), a competitive pilot with a gift for pulling pranks; Scott Carpenter, portrayed by James Lafferty (THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE), a soulful man who was dubbed “The Poet” by the other astronauts; Deke Slayton, portrayed by Micah Stock (BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON), a taciturn but incredibly intelligent pilot and engineer; and Gus Grissom, portrayed by Michael Trotter (UNDERGROUND, THE EVENING HOUR), a no-nonsense test pilot who eventually becomes the second man in space.
The astronauts’ strengths are equaled only by their flaws. As the men succumb to the temptations that surround them, Project Mercury threatens to come apart. At the heart of the historic drama populated by deeply human characters are two men who become icons — Glenn and Shepard — as they jockey to be the first man in space. The entire program is nearly brought to its knees by their intense rivalry.
The series also follows NASA’s engineers, who work against the clock as pressures mount from Washington and a transfixed public. And we witness the underbelly of a myth-making propaganda machine headed by NASA’s PR department and aided by the writers and editors at LIFE Magazine.