Ryan Gosling is receiving rave reviews for his portrayal of astronaut Neil Armstrong in “First Man”, which re-teams the star and “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle for a biopic about the first human to walk on the moon.
While early reviews have generally been positive, one scene in the film is rubbing some people the wrong way: when Gosling’s Armstrong finally sets foot on the lunar surface, he doesn’t plant an American flag in the ground, which the real Armstrong definitely did in what became one of the most iconic images in NASA history.
Buzz Aldrin, the second person to step foot on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission, took to Twitter on Sunday to not-so-subtly shade “First Man” for omitting the historical moment.
Later, Aldrin retweeted a photo of himself giving a salute next to a photo of the flag on the moon.
Speaking with The Telegraph about “First Man” during the film’s premiere at the Venice Film Festival, Gosling addressed the controversy by underlining the intent behind eliminating the flag.
Pointing out that Armstrong’s moon walk was something that “transcended countries and borders,” Gosling explained: “I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it. I also think Neil was extremely humble, as were many of these astronauts, and time and time again he deferred the focus from himself to the 400,000 people who made the mission possible.”
According to Gosling, Armstrong “was reminding everyone that he was just the tip of the iceberg — and that’s not just to be humble, that’s also true. So I don’t think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero. From my interviews with his family and people that knew him, it was quite the opposite. And we wanted the film to reflect Neil.”
Besides, he joked: “I’m Canadian, so [I] might have cognitive bias.”
“First Man” will be among the selections at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, and will open in wide release on Oct. 12.