First Man | Film Q+A

Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle takes us for a closer look into his latest film, First Man. Exploring the years surrounding the moon landing, First Man stars Ryan Gosling as a quiet, reserved Neil Armstrong with Claire Foy as his wife Janet. Chazelle dives deep into the complexities of portraying a real person's story while sharing the joys of working with Gosling, Foy + a team largely carried over from La La Land. Find some notable moments from the interview below.

1. The work starts way before the camera does

[Ryan Gosling] likes to do the deep dive that I like to do. In his case he's diving into his character. He's trying to flesh out that character from the ground up way before a frame of film is shot.

The role of research is particularly relevant to the portrayal of a real-life figure like Neil Armstrong. Chazelle + Gosling's similar styles of preparation make them a well-matched pair, united by a commitment to tracing their subjects closely.

2. Finding depth in reserved roles

Chazelle expounds on his appreciation for Gosling + Foy's approaches to their respective roles, noting that their restraint + attention to detail made for a couple of magnetic performances.

[Claire Foy] has a way of investing even the smallest moments with emotion + loading the smallest details with real significance.

3. Trying to convey two types of reality

I was trying to find a balance between total reality (what you were actually hearing in real life) + what I'd call the emotional reality.

None of us will ever know exactly what it was like for Neil Armstrong to be encased in a tiny pod on his way to the moon. But what's the best way to get close? Absolute fidelity to how everything would have looked + sounded can only take us so far; causing real empathy in the viewer happens when the creators paint an evocative emotional picture as well.