The movie First Man, which stars Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong in telling the story of the moon landing, was seen as a likely awards contender heading into the fall. But poor box office performance, as well as controversy about the film’s omission of the astronauts’ planting of the flag on the moon, have hurt First Man‘s Oscar chances. And now, one of the real-life astronauts depicted in the film has shared his criticism of the movie.
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who is 88-years-old, “doesn’t like the film,” according to a tweet by reporter Anne Thompson of Indiewire. “They needed that character,” Aldrin said, presumably of the Aldrin character in the film. “And more like him.” The tweet also mentioned that Aldrin’s favorite astronaut movie is In the Shadow of the Moon, the 2007 British documentary to which Aldrin contributed interviews. Aldrin also made a cameo appearance in 2011’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
The comments came at a party for another awards-contending movie, the Steve Carell addiction drama Beautiful Boy.
In First Man, directed by La La Land‘s Damien Chazelle, actor Corey Stoll portrays Aldrin as smarmy and ornery, in what’s a relatively small supporting role. The film, which tells the story of the years leading up to the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, mostly focuses on Neil Armstrong and his family, with smaller parts for most of the astronauts. Kyle Chandler, who plays Deke Slayton, gets more screen time than Stoll does as Aldrin.
Around the time First Man debuted at the Toronto Film Festival in September, a controversy arose about the film’s decision to not directly show Armstrong and Aldrin planting the American flag on the moon. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was notably critical of the filmmakers. The actual film, however, contained numerous examples of American flag imagery, including one shot of the flag on the moon, while First Man in various ways celebrated traditional, conservative values.
Aldrin, who is one of the only astronauts from that era who is still living, had mostly been quiet about the film, although he did send a tweet during the flag controversy, about a month before the film was released.
Aldrin has been in the news in the last year due to a series of financial disputes with his family. In June, Aldrin filed a lawsuit against his children and his family foundation, while his children counter-sued, alleging that Aldrin had been manipulated by others into taking that action.