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First Man's Claire Foy explains why it's good she never met Neil Armstrong's wife, Janet

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Sep 4, 2018

Damien Chazelle's Apollo 11 biopic First Man enjoyed its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and it's already being touted as a serious contender for awards season. Like Chazelle's Whiplash and La La Land, the film could be up for multiple Oscars at the 91st Academy Awards. 

Ryan Gosling portrays legendary astronaut Neil Armstrong, but as the old adage goes, behind every great man, there's a great woman. Filling that role is British actress Claire Foy, known for portraying Queen Elizabeth II on Netflix's The Crown.

Despite taking on the role of Janet Shearon-Armstrong (who passed away in June at the age of 84), Foy never met the woman, a usual practice for actors attempting to emulate real-world people. While Foy regrets never getting to occupy the same space as Shearon, she told Vulture why it was a good thing. 

"I was never in a room with her. I’ll always regret that. But then at the same time, I wonder whether, when playing her, it was helpful that I didn’t meet her; there was some distance. She was very private about her relationship with Neil anyway. I didn’t want to put her in a position where she was having to talk to some random actress about her marriage. Nobody wants to do that!"

Foy also revealed that the hardest scene to film was the funeral for the Armstrong's daughter, Karen, who passed away in 1962 from cancer-related complications. In addition, there was a good amount of improvisation on set, especially for the sequence that takes place the night before Neil lifts off for the moon. 

"It was one scene, shot for 12 hours, and we improvised a lot of it. I was driving the scene quite a lot," Foy said. "That’s always hard, when you’re the person responsible for getting it going. At the end of the day, you’re like, 'Oh my God, I don’t ever want to have any emotion ever again in my life.' [Laughs.]"

First Man shoots for the moon in theaters everywhere on Friday, Oct. 12. While we've got a little more than a month to go until then, the movie has already come under fire for not featuring the historical moment of the Apollo 11 astronauts (Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin) planting the American flag on the surface of the moon. Aldrin addressed the controversy by tweeting out photos of the flag-planting and using the hashtag, "ProudToBeAnAmerican," while the creative team has said the flag is seen on the moon (though not the actual planting), while they opted to instead focus on other, lesser-known moments of the mission.


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