CS Interview: Claire Foy on Playing Janet Armstrong in First Man
Universal Pictures provided ComingSoon.net with the chance to have an exclusive 1:1 with First Man star Claire Foy (The Crown, The Girl in the Spider’s Web), who talks to us about playing Janet Armstrong in the Neil Armstrong biopic starring Ryan Gosling. Check out the interview below!
Director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) and Gosling (Blade Runner 2049) are teaming up again following the smashing success of the 2016 musical La La Land for the film based on James Hansen’s biography “First Man: A Life Of Neil A. Armstrong.” Written by Academy Award winner Josh Singer (Spotlight), the First Man movie will be produced by Wyck Godfrey & Marty Bowen (The Twilight Saga, The Fault in Our Stars) through their Temple Hill Entertainment banner, alongside Chazelle. Isaac Klausner (The Fault in Our Stars) will executive produce.
The film features an ensemble cast that includes Gosling, Foy as Janet Shearon, Armstrong’s first wife, Corey Stoll (The Strain) as Buzz Aldrin, Kyle Chandler (Game Night) as Deke Slayton, Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) as Ed White, Shea Wigham (Kong: Skull Island) as Gus Grissom, Jon Bernthal (The Punisher) as David Scott, Brian d’Arcy James (13 Reasons Why) as Joseph A. Walker, Pablo Schreiber (Den of Thieves) as Jim Lovell, as well as Patrick Fugit (Outcast), Cory Michael Smith (Gotham), Lukas Haas (The Revenant) and Christopher Abbott (The Sinner).
First Man is set to land in theaters on October 12.
ComingSoon.net: In the movie, you play Janet as someone who knows how to put a confident front on for the press and friends, who has this other sort of tougher self. Can you talk about playing the dichotomy between her public and private self?
Claire Foy: I think Janet is pretty consistent. I don’t think that she had a public and private self. I think she’s a very private person. I just think that she wasn’t going to be over expressive or anything like that, but she is very resilient. She’s very, very courageous and she shoulders an awful lot. But she’s going to say what she thought and stand up for herself and for her children, but there’s only so much she can take. She doesn’t pull any punches.
CS: The death of Karen Armstrong is something that lingers throughout the film. We know that Neil kind of threw himself into the Gemini and Apollo program after her death, and that they had another child afterwards. How do you think Janet coped not only with that loss, but also potentially losing her husband as well?
Foy: Well, obviously I can’t speak for them and they were very, very private about the loss of Karen and never talked about it publicly. I think that Janet had a lot of loss in her life, her father when she was very young, as well. I think she was able to realize that you have to have hope and you have to carry on and live each day as it comes. I think she never got over feeling the loss of Karen ever. And I don’t think she never got used to the fact that Neil’s job was so terrifying, but she just realized she had to just wake up every day and bring up her boys and there was no use in dwelling or thinking about things, that she just had to carry on the feeling where she could live her life, really.
CS: Janet played such a crucial role in the film because Neil himself is so stoic and reserved, and I felt like a lot of times she was reflecting and speaking for what he was undoubtedly going through emotionally. Can you talk about potentially being a conduit through which we see his experience, as well as Janet’s?
Foy: I really will say about the film is that she is having her own experience. I think Neil, his approach to life is not to kind of talk about things and he was very introverted in an emotional sense. But then, was also incredibly kind of humorous and charming. So that’s the main thing, when he wasn’t overly emotional or to kind of compensate for him, she was going to have to compensate for that and she was much more in touch with her emotions than Neil.
CS: What are some of your favorite movies about a marriage?
Foy: “Kramer vs Kramer” is going to be one. I just think that story, she couldn’t be what she had expected to be or what her husband wanted and that she had to leave. I like that they come to a new understanding by the end of it. “The Bridges of Madison County” is one of my favorites as well. That’s no really about a marriage, it’s about an affair, so that doesn’t really count. Yeah, I just love that film. I think it’s amazing. I think Meryl Streep’s amazing in it. I love that she was in the decision making, that she was having to make a decision, a very difficult decision, and ultimately one that very few people would understand and that Hollywood doesn’t really do a lot, which is the most—it’s not the most romantic, but it’s the most steadfast and what she needs.
CS: Can you talk a little bit about the period of “First Man,” the 60’s and how immersive the production was, both in the research and the set and the costume designs?
Foy: Yeah, the set design pretty much filled in everything. Their houses are exactly to scale and exactly as they were, which is amazing. I mean, it was incredible how everything worked. Every cup would have things in it, so that was amazing. To completely immerse myself in that period of time, and what happened with Karen and what that meant about her cancer and the way she handled herself. It was a really amazing period of time to kind of live in for this.
CS: And I know that you’re an actress and inhabiting different roles is your job, but can you talk a little bit about what must’ve been sort of a whiplash transition between Janet Armstrong to Lisbeth Salander?
Foy: Well, they’re two very distinct things. One by virtue of Lisbeth Salander do the job for me. They were two very, very different characters and actually, you know, one shot in Atlanta and one shot in Berlin. I played different parts. But yeah, it was amazing to have that diversity and to get jobs to play those different roles.