National Geographic’s The Right Stuff series will premiere on Disney+ this fall. A new minute and a half behind-the-scenes video as well as two new photos accompanied the announcement of the drama’s upcoming debut on Disney’s subscription streaming service.
The Right Stuff, based on the bestseller by Tom Wolfe, is from Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Warner Horizon Scripted Television. DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson executive produce along with showrunner Mark Lafferty (Castle Rock).
Patrick J. Adams (Suits) stars as Major John Glenn, Jake McDorman (Lady Bird) is Lieutenant Commander Alan Shepard, and Colin O’Donoghue (Once Upon a Time) plays Lieutenant Gordon Cooper. The cast of the eight episode season also includes Aaron Staton, James Lafferty, Micah Stock, and Michael Trotter.
“The Right Stuff evokes the wonder and awe of the moment we first escaped the bounds of our only home and ventured into the unknown. But the show is as much about who we are today as it is about our historic achievements. At a time when the world is confronted with significant challenges, this story reminds us that what seems impossible today can become the triumph of tomorrow,” explained showrunner Lafferty.
“This true story of scientific innovation and human perseverance could not be more timely,” said Courteney Monroe, president, National Geographic Global Television Networks. “National Geographic’s The Right Stuff is an aspirational story about exploration, ambition, determination and resilience and reminds us that human beings can achieve the extraordinary when united by a common purpose. This series provides a compelling behind-the-scenes look at the flawed, but heroic Mercury 7 astronauts and we are thrilled that it has found its perfect home on Disney+.”
The Plot, Cast, and Characters, Courtesy of Disney+:
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, and Lieutenant Commander Alan Shepard, one of the best test pilots in Navy history, portrayed by Jake McDorman.
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, the youngest of the seven who was selected to everyone’s surprise; Wally Schirra, portrayed by Aaron Staton, a competitive pilot with a gift for pulling pranks; Scott Carpenter, portrayed by James Lafferty, a soulful man who was dubbed “The Poet” by the other astronauts; Deke Slayton, portrayed by Micah Stock, a taciturn but incredibly intelligent pilot and engineer; and Gus Grissom, portrayed by Michael Trotter, 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.
The rest of the ensemble cast includes Nora Zehetneras Annie Glenn, the wife of John Glenn and his childhood sweetheart who has a speech impairment that can sometimes make communication difficult; Eloise Mumford as Trudy Cooper, Gordon Cooper’s wife and an accomplished pilot herself, with her rocky marriage to Gordon providing conflict throughout the season; and Shannon Lucio as Louise Shepard, Alan Shepard’s devoted and long-suffering wife.
Patrick Fischler plays Bob Gilruth, a soft-spoken rocket scientist who is the partner of the more brash Chris Kraft, who is portrayed by Eric Ladin. They are critical members of NASA’s Space Task group, charged by President Dwight Eisenhower with putting a man into space faster than seems humanly possible. They’re racing against the clock as pressures mount from Washington and a transfixed public.
As the Mercury 7 astronauts are thrust into the public eye, NASA’s PR department goes into overdrive to paint the perfect picture, aided by the writers and editors at LIFE Magazine. Danny Strong plays John “Shorty” Powers, NASA’s omnipresent PR man, constantly taking the astronauts on glad-handing trips to factories and rubber-chicken dinners in order to spur public enthusiasm, and thus, appropriations from congress for the space program. Josh Cooke plays Loudon Wainwright Jr., LIFE Magazine’s star reporter, who is tasked with writing the biographies of all seven astronauts and has the keenest look at what’s really transpiring.