National Geographic has given a series order to the scripted adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff” from executive producer Leonardo DiCaprio, the network announced on Sunday.
Based on the bestselling nonfiction book about the early days of the U.S. space program, the series has added “Castle Rock” executive producer as showrunner and “Game of Thrones” alum David Nutter as director and EP of the first episode.
Using the book as its starting point, the first season takes place at the height of the Cold War in 1958, when the Soviets are dominating the space race. The public is in fear of a nation in decline, so the U.S. government conceives of a solution — NASA’s Project Mercury — creating the country’s premier astronauts from a handful of the military’s adrenaline-junkie test pilots. Seven individuals, known as the Mercury Seven, are plucked from obscurity and soon forged into heroes long before they have achieved a single heroic act. Within the heart of this historic drama that’s populated by deeply human characters, two archrivals — John Glenn and Alan Shepard — jockey to be the first in space.
Jennifer Davisson of DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Will Staples will also executive produce. Production is set to begin on the series this fall.
“The behind-the-scenes stories of the astronauts in Tom Wolfe’s bestseller The Right Stuff are engaging, provocative and timeless,” said Carolyn Bernstein, head of scripted for National Geographic. “The book’s narrative aligns perfectly with the qualities that we look for in scripted projects: fact-based, wildly entertaining and pushing the limits of human achievement.”
“The Right Stuff is about a moment when the country looked in the same direction to achieve the stuff of fantasy, and on a timeline that was nearly impossible,” said Lafferty. “The story is a reminder of what we’re capable of, but it also shows how much we’ve changed and diversified over time. National Geographic is the perfect home to showcase the ambitious and colorful characters at the center of this pioneering era.”