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‘First Man’ First Look: Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling Bring Neil Armstrong Space Drama to Oscar Season

“What fascinated me about Neil Armstrong is that he is kind of a mystery,” Chazelle said about his attraction to the film.

Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle

Stewart Cook/WWD/REX/Shutterstock

Damien Chazelle directed Ryan Gosling to an Oscar nomination for best actor in “La La Land,” and he could do the same in the upcoming “First Man.” The Neil Armstrong space drama is one of Universal Pictures’ major Oscar contenders set for release this fall and it’s Chazelle’s first movie since “La La Land” made him the youngest best director Oscar winner in history.

“First Man” stars Gosling as Armstrong and recounts the astronaut’s obsession with landing on the moon and the years it took to achieve the goal. Claire Foy, who also has “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” opening in the fall, plays Janet Shearon, Armstrong’s first wife. The supporting cast includes Corey Stoll as Buzz Aldrin, Kyle Chander as Deke Slayton, and Jason Clarke as Ed White.

“Ryan and I described the movie to each other as it’s about the moon and the kitchen,” Chazelle told PEOPLE, “which means basically we wanted to tell the story about one of the most epic accomplishments in human history, but root it very much in the intimate and the day to day details of what it was actually like. What did it feel like to be Neil or Janet at that moment in time and going through these truly superhuman kind of events.”

As for why Chazelle decided to reunite with Gosling for the film, the director said he saw similarities between the actor and his movie subject.

“Neil was not a showy person,” Chazelle said. “A lot of the other astronauts and pilots of that era were what you expect, the outgoing, hotshot types, but Neil was very different. He was the brainier, quieter, more introverted person and he’s a man of few words who did the job and got it done. I see a little bit of Ryan in that as well and I think Ryan was able to capture it beautifully.”

Click the embed below to view the first look “First Man” photos on PEOPLE.

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