"First Man" follows NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong during the years leading up to the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon in 1969. In celebration of the film's release on Oct. 12, 2018, Wonderwall.com is taking a look at actors who've played real-life astronauts, starting with Ryan Gosling. Ryan's been praised by critics for his portrayal of Neil, the first man to ever walk on the moon, in "First Man." Keep reading to see which other actors have taken on the role of a real-life astronaut…
Tom Hanks starred as NASA astronaut Jim Lovell, the commander of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, in 1995's "Apollo 13." The space docudrama was critically acclaimed and earned Tom an ensemble SAG Award. Fun fact: John Travolta was initially offered the role of Jim but turned it down.
Twenty years before Ryan Gosling took on the role of Neil Armstrong in "First Man," Tony Goldwyn played the legendary astronaut in "From the Earth to the Moon." The 1998 HBO miniseries tells the story of the Apollo expeditions to the moon during the 1960s and early 1970s.
Ed Harris starred as NASA astronaut and former U.S. Senator John Glenn in 1983's "The Right Stuff." The historical drama tells the story of the Mercury Seven: the seven military pilots who were selected to be the astronauts for Project Mercury, the first manned spaceflight by the United States. Ed received widespread praise for his portrayal of John and, 12 years later, he starred as NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz in "Apollo 13" — a performance that earned him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor.
Bill Paxton starred as Apollo 13 Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise, one of only 24 people to have flown to the moon, in "Apollo 13." The 1995 flick, which dramatizes the aborted 1970 Apollo 13 lunar mission, was nominated for nine Academy Awards including best picture.
Long before he was Walter White, Bryan Cranston was NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin — the second man to walk on the moon — in 1998's "From the Earth to the Moon." The 12-part miniseries won three Emmys for outstanding miniseries, outstanding casting for a miniseries or movie and outstanding hairstyling for a miniseries, movie or special.
Dennis Quaid starred as Capt. Leroy "Gordo" Gordon Cooper Jr., the youngest of Project Mercury's seven original astronauts, in 1983's "The Right Stuff." The biopic was critically acclaimed and received eight Oscar nominations, winning for best sound and best film editing.
Kevin Bacon took on the role of Apollo 13 backup Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert — the astronaut who made the dramatic real-life announcement, "Houston, we've had a problem" — in 1995's "Apollo 13." In addition to being a huge critical success, "Apollo 13" was also a box-office smash, grossing over $355 million worldwide.
Mark Harmon starred as Wally Schirra, the first astronaut to go into space three times and the only astronaut to have flown in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, in 1998's "From the Earth to the Moon." The TV series was so impressive that it won the 1999 Golden Globe Award for best miniseries or motion picture made for TV.
Glen Powell played pioneering astronaut John Glenn — the first American to orbit the Earth — in "Hidden Figures." The 2016 biopic, which tells the story of black female NASA mathematicians Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, was a critical and commercial success. The movie grossed $236 million worldwide and received two Golden Globe nominations and three Academy Award nominations including an Oscar nod for best picture.
Gary Sinise took on the role of Apollo 13 Command Module Pilot Ken Mattingly, one of only 24 people to have flown to the moon, in "Apollo 13." Ron Howard, who directed the 1995 film, invited Gary to read for any of the characters and he ultimately chose Ken. "Apollo 13" was nominated for four Golden Globes and nine Oscars (it won for best sound and best editing).
Eleven years after he was Wesley in "The Princess Bride," Cary Elwes starred as astronaut Michael Collins — a Gemini veteran and command module pilot on Apollo 11 — in "From the Earth to the Moon." If it seems like the miniseries portrayed a lot of real-life astronauts, that's because it did. "From the Earth to the Moon" had a huge cast that depicted 30 of the 32 astronauts who flew, or were preparing to fly, the 12 missions of the Apollo program.
Scott Glenn took on the role of NASA astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to travel into space, in "The Right Stuff." The 1983 film might have been critically acclaimed, but that success did not transfer over to the box office. "The Right Stuff" only grossed $21 million against a $27 million budget, making it a box-office bomb.
Timothy Daly starred as Apollo Commander James Lovell in "From the Earth to the Moon" three years after Tom Hanks took on the role in "Apollo 13." Fun fact: Tom co-produced "From the Earth to the Moon" and introduces each of its 11 episodes.
Rock musician Chris Isaak stepped away from the mic to play Edward White II, the first American astronaut to leave the confines of his spacecraft — who later died in the 1967 Apollo 1 fire — in "From the Earth to the Moon. After appearing in the miniseries, Chris released five more albums and appeared in "Ed," "The Chris Isaak Show" and "The X Factor Australia."
Mark Rolston played NASA astronaut Gus Grissom, who was killed during a 1967 pre-launch test for the Apollo 1 mission, in "From the Earth to the Moon." The HBO series, which was also produced in part by Ron Howard, is known for its accurate storytelling and outstanding special effects.
David Andrews portrayed Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman, who was on the first mission that flew around the moon, in "From the Earth to the Moon." After playing one of NASA's finest, David went on to appear in "Fight Club," "A Walk to Remember" and "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines."