Director Damien Chazelle orbiting Neil Armstrong biopic ‘First Man’

Damien Chazelle
“Whiplash” director Damien Chazelle is in talks to direct “First Man,” about astronaut Neil Armstrong.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Damien Chazelle, the writer-director of the Sundance hit “Whiplash,” could be charting a course for the moon.

The 29-year-old filmmaker is in talks to direct “First Man,” a biopic about astronaut Neil Armstrong, for Universal Pictures, the Los Angeles Times has confirmed. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news.

Josh Singer, who penned the WikiLeaks drama “The Fifth Estate,” is also in talks to write the screenplay for “First Man.”

Adapted from James R. Hansen’s authorized biography “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong,” the drama is to chronicle Armstrong’s journey from serving as a test pilot to becoming the first man to walk on the moon, while also enduring family tragedies and personal issues.


Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey are set to produce the movie through their Temple Hill Entertainment banner, and Hansen is attached to coproduce.

Chazelle’s and Singer’s potential involvement could lend new momentum to the long-gestating project, which had been set up at Warner Bros. more than a decade ago, with Clint Eastwood to direct and produce.

Chazelle is currently enjoying the buzz surrounding “Whiplash,” which originated as a short film about a talented young drummer who crosses paths with a domineering music teacher. After winning the short film jury award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Chazelle remade the 18-minute movie as a feature starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons.

That version of “Whiplash” won the top audience and grand jury awards in the U.S. dramatic competition at this year’s Sundance fest, and Sony Pictures Classics picked up the film. It opens in theaters Oct. 10.


Chazelle’s next movie will likely be “La La Land,” a romantic musical set in Los Angeles, with Teller and Emma Watson attached to star.

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