EXCLUSIVE: Michelle Williams is set to star as Christa McAuliffe in The Challenger, a feature film about the 1986 space shuttle tragedy being produced by John and Art Linson and Argent Pictures’ Ben Renzo. Land of Mine director Martin Zandvliet will direct the biopic of sorts that is penned by Jayson Rothwell. A May 2019 production start is being eyed.
The Challenger will follow the true story of McAuliffe, a New Hampshire high school teacher who was selected to join NASA’s Teacher in Space Project. She eventually became part of the astronaut crew on the Space Shuttle Challenger, which launched from Cape Canaveral on January 28, 1986. The shuttle exploded 73 seconds after takeoff, on live TV, killing all seven aboard.
McAuliffe’s memory and mission left a lasting impression and legacy on her family, community and teachers worldwide (as the first teacher in space, McAuliffe was to have conducted classes during the mission). Many schools have been named in her honor, and she posthumously received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
“We are more than humbled and extremely grateful for the opportunity to help tell the story of Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger mission,” Renzo said. “Christa McAuliffe’s legacy deserves the strength, courage, experience and humanity that Michelle Williams brings to the role. The entire Argent team is honored and eager to responsibly capture and share the events and personal journeys of those surrounding this important historical moment with audiences around the world to help remember and further appreciate the sacrifices Christa and rest of the Challenger crew made to further our journey into space.”
Argent partners Jill Ahrens, Ryan Ahrens, Drew Brees, Tony Parker, Michael Finley and Derrick Brooks are executive producing.
Williams, a four-time Oscar nominee including most recently as Supporting Actress for 2017’s Manchester By the Sea, is next up on the big screen in Sony’s Venom opposite Tom Hardy and Riz Ahmed. It opens wide Friday.
She also just wrapped production on Bart Freundlich’s After the Wedding with Julianne Moore, and now has now started work on FX’s eight-episode limited series starring Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse and Williams as Gwen Verdon. That project hails from Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Kail, Dear Evan Hansen‘s Steven Levenson, Fox 21 TV Studios and FX Productions.
Williams is repped by WME, Brillstein Entertainment and Bloom, Hergott.