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‘First Man’ director explains moon mission movie’s inspiration

PHOENIX – The tale of astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon, is one of the best-known stories in American history.

However, Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle was compelled to make a film about Armstrong and the Apollo 11 mission, “First Man,” because of how much of the story remained untold nearly half a century later.

“What inspired me to make this movie in the first place was actually how much behind that event and the years leading up to the event was not known,” Chazelle said Friday while appearing in studio with KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James & Pamela Hughes.

Chazelle, who was joined by Mark Armstrong, the legendary astronaut’s son, said he wanted the movie to focus on the personal aspects of the story as well as the mishaps, some tragic, leading up to the historic event.

“The road to that famous success story was littered with failure, and I think it actually is even more inspiring to look at it from that perspective, the human perspective,” said Chazelle, who won an Academy Award for best director for “La La Land.”

Mark Armstrong was 6 years old when his father took his giant step for mankind on July 20, 1969. He remembers that he wasn’t afraid when the astronaut explained to his kids that he might not return, a scene recreated in the movie.

“In retrospect, knowing how Mom must have felt, it’s just amazing to me that she withheld those fears from us,” he said.

“She didn’t let on that she was terrified and how dangerous it was.”

“First Man” hit theaters in wide release Friday and is already getting plenty of Oscar buzz.

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Bruce St. James & Pamela Hughes

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