EXCLUSIVE: Jake McDorman (What We Do in the Shadows) and Joe Dempsie (Game of Thrones) are set to star opposite Patrick J. Adams in National Geographic’s scripted series The Right Stuff, based on Tom Wolfe’s best-selling nonfiction book. They will play three of the seven astronauts who comprised the famed Mercury Seven. Cast as the remaining four are Aaron Staton (Narcos: Mexico), Michael Trotter (Underground), Micah Stock (Escape at Dannemora) and James Lafferty (The Haunting of Hill House).
The Right Stuff, from Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Warner Horizon Scripted Television, takes a look at what would become America’s first “reality show,” as ambitious astronauts and their families become instant celebrities in a competition that either will kill them or make them immortal in the quest to be a part of Project Mercury.
Adams plays Maj. John Glenn, a revered test pilot and committed family man with unwavering principles; McDorman portrays Alan Shepard, one of the best test pilots in Navy history, who is furiously competitive; Dempsie plays Lt. Gordon Cooper, the youngest of the seven who was selected to everyone’s surprise; Staton portrays Wally Schirra, a competitive pilot with a gift for pulling pranks; Lafferty plays Scott Carpenter, a soulful man who was dubbed “The Poet” by the other astronauts; Stock portrays Deke Slayton, a taciturn but incredibly intelligent pilot and engineer; and Trotter plays Gus Grissom, a no-nonsense test pilot who eventually becomes the second man in space.
In the 1983 feature adaptation of Wolfe’s book, Glenn was played by Ed Harris. Shepard by Scott Glenn, Cooper by Dennis Quaid, Schirra by Lance Henriksen, Carpenter by Charles Frank, Slayton by Scott Paulin and Grissom by Fred Ward.
The first season of The Right Stuff, which uses Wolfe’s book as its jumping-off point, starts at the height of the Cold War. 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 adrenaline-fueled 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. At the heart of a historic drama populated by deeply human characters, archrivals Glenn and Shepard jockey to become the first man in space.
Production will begin this fall in Cocoa Beach, FL. for a 2020 premiere globally on National Geographic.
Subsequent seasons of The Right Stuff will carry through to the epochal Apollo Space Program, where humankind saw one of its greatest achievements — man setting foot on the moon — and missions beyond.
DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson are executive producers, along with Mark Lafferty, who will serve as showrunner. Will Staples also is an executive producer. Michael Hampton shepherded this project on behalf of Appian Way.