Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio is teaming up with National Geographic to bring TV audiences an adaptation of the 1983 hit film, The Right Stuff. DiCaprio will serve as executive producer on the scripted series. Will Staples, whose current writing credits are all video game related (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Need for Speed: Rivals) has been brought on to write the series.
As a film, The Right Stuff won 4 Oscars back in 1984 and starred Sam Shepard (Bloodline), Scott Glenn (The Defenders), Ed Harris (Westworld) and Dennis Quaid (American Crime Story). The story details the lives of the American fighter pilots who eventually went on to become the Mercury 7 astronauts for NASA’s Project Mercury. Despite the film’s critical acclaim, its initial arrival in theaters was, rather surprisingly, something of a box-office bomb.
News of DiCaprio’s involvement with the television adaptation was first reported on by Variety. DiCaprio’s Appian Way Productions has officially signed the deal with National Geographic, meaning DiCaprio and Appian Way President Jennifer Davisson will be overseeing production of the series. Regarding this new venture with DiCaprio and co., National Geographic CEO Courteney Monroe had the following to say:
“Having already had a rich relationship with Leonardo, Jennifer and their production company Appian Way on ‘Before the Flood,’ I’m excited to work with them in a scripted capacity. With ‘The Right Stuff,’ we’re looking at moment in time where the everyday life, the trials and tribulations, of these men was scrutinized in the public. The story gives a peek into the minds and goals of these astronauts seeking exploration and adventure during the space race of the ’50s, making it the perfect story for National Geographic to tell.”
“National Geographic gave ‘Before the Flood’ an international platform, and we couldn’t think of a better partner to bring The Right Stuff to the world. The heroism of these astronauts was rivaled only by the country’s fascination with their story; this series uncovers both the adventure of space exploration and the adventure of being unwittingly thrust into the public eye.”
DiCaprio’s previous collaboration with National Geographic, the aforementioned Before the Flood, was a critically acclaimed documentary on climate change from 2016 that the actor also narrated. The Right Stuff will be the Oscar-winner’s first scripted series with National Geographic and as of this writing, nothing is known about a potential cast or whether or not DiCaprio himself might make an appearance. He is next expected onscreen in the crime drama The Black Hand, as well as Martin Scorsese’s upcoming project Killers of the Flower Moon.
NatGeo has done well in getting DiCaprio’s Appian Way Productions on board. With DiCaprio developing the series, this could be exactly what the cable channel needs to help build a new reputation as a quality source for scripted entertainment. Of course it’s far too early to judge The Right Stuff, but there’s plenty of material in its subject matter to potentially keep audiences coming back for more.