National Geographic original scripted series ‘The Right Stuff’ to premiere on Disney+ this autumn!

Disney+ has announced that the original scripted series, The Right Stuff, from National Geographic, will premiere on Disney+ this autumn.

Produced for National Geographic by Appian Way and Warner Horizon Scripted TelevisionThe Right Stuff is adapted from Tom Wolfe’s iconic, bestselling non-fiction account of the early days of the U.S. space program.

The eight-episode, scripted series takes a clear-eyed look at what would become America’s first “reality show,” as ambitious astronauts and their families become instant celebrities in a competition that could kill them or make them immortal.

The two men at the center of the story are Major John Glenn (Patrick J. Adams), a revered test pilot and committed family man with unwavering principles, and Lieutenant Commander Alan Shepard (Jake McDormand), one of the best test pilots in Navy history.

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 (Colin O’Donoghue), the youngest of the seven who was selected to everyone’s surprise; Wally Schirra (Aaron Staton), a competitive pilot with a gift for pulling pranks; Scott Carpenter (James Lafferty), a soulful man who was dubbed “The Poet” by the other astronauts; Deke Slayton (Micah Stock), a taciturn but incredibly intelligent pilot and engineer; and Gus Grissom (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.

Left row front to back: Micah Stock as Deke Slayton, XX, Michael Trotter as Gus Grissom, Aaron Staton as Wally Schirra. Right row front to back: Patrick J. Adams as John Glenn, Jake McDorman as Alan Shepard, Colin O’Donoghue as Gordon Cooper and James Lafferty as Scott Carpenter in National Geographic’s THE RIGHT STUFF on Disney+. (National Geographic/Gene Page)

The rest of the ensemble cast includes Nora Zehetner as 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; Shannon Lucio as Louise Shepard, Alan Shepard’s devoted and long-suffering wife; Patrick Fischler as Bob Gilruth, a soft-spoken rocket scientist who is the partner of the more brash Chris Kraft, who is portrayed by Eric LadinDanny Strong as John “Shorty” Powers, NASA’s omnipresent PR man; and Josh Cooke as 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.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson are executive producers, along with Mark Lafferty (“Castle Rock,” “Halt and Catch Fire”), who is showrunner. Chris Long (“The Americans,” “The Mentalist”) directed and executive produced the first episode. Will Staples (“Animals,” “Shooter”) and Howard Korder (“Boardwalk Empire”) are also executive producers. Academy Award® winner Thelma Schoonmaker (“Raging Bull,” “GoodFellas,” “The Departed”) and Emmy® winner Danny Strong (“Empire,” “The Hunger Games” movies, “Game Change”) are consulting producers. Michael Hampton shepherded this project on behalf of Appian Way and is co-producer.

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