The trailer for Hidden Figures is here.
The film, which is based on a true story, follows “a team of African-American women [who] provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions,” according to iMDb.
Empire star Taraji P. Henson plays Katherine Johnson, a whiz with numbers. Johnson is known for calculating the trajectory for Project Mercury, the first human spaceflight program in the U.S., as well as for the first and only journey that mankind took to the moon with the 1969 Apollo 11 project.
Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae portray Dorthy Vaughn and Mary Jackson, respectively, who together with Johnson were known as “human computers.” But Hidden Figures is set to do more than share a story of three extraordinary women — it will also shed light on the sexism and racism the women had to face even when they had NASA written on their name tags.
In one scene Kirsten Dunst’s Vivian Michael tells Johnson that they never “let a colored” in NASA before and she warns Johnson not to “embarrass” her. Another scene shows Johnson speaking with a possible male suitor (House of Cards and Luke Cage‘s Mahershala Ali) who says that he didn’t know NASA “let” women do heavy duty computer work. But Johnson then clearly tells them that they do — and it’s not because they wear skirts but because they wear glasses.
Other stars attached to the film include Kevin Costner as Al Harrison and The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons as Paul Stafford.
But even with a diverse cast, Henson is leery that the film will be labeled as a “black film” since its three main characters are African-American.
“I hate when I do a film, and it has a lot of African-Americans and they call it a ‘black film,’ she said in an interview with The New York Times. “I don’t wake up and go, ‘Let’s see, this weekend, I’m going to see a Chinese film. I’m going to see a black film. No, I’m going [to] see a white film with a black person in it.’ Who does that?”
It wouldn’t be the first time by far. In 2013, USA Today called Best Man Holiday a “race-themed” film. The film served a sequel to the 1999 film, The Best Man and stars an A-list black ensemble including Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Monica Calhoun, Melissa De Sousa, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, and Nia Long.
Spencer drove the point forward as well in the same interview where she shared that the film not only about race but about the significant work done by three women in NASA during the ’60s.
“This is a female-driven movie about contributions that women really made, to our world, not just our society,” she said. “That’s a big statement.”
Hidden Figures is based on a book dubbed Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly. It’s set to be published in the fall, on September 6.
“Really, the importance of what I’m doing, I think, is to put the stories of these women on the historical record so that we can all celebrate the foundational work that they did,” said Shetterly at an event in an at NASA Langley of her forthcoming book.
Pharrell, who is producing the film’s score, also lends his voice to the trailer.
“She knew I was going to lose my mind upon hearing about it,” said Pharrell who’s a self-confessed space geek on how he got the gig. “And when I did, we got on the phone with everybody, and we begged.”
Hidden Figures is scheduled to premiere in theaters on January 12, 2017.
Watch the trailer above.
[Image via 20th Century Fox]