First Man: Ryan Gosling about Playing Neil Armstrong and Director Chazelle’s Hair

Would you expect Ryan Gosling (of all people) to talk about hair and hairdo?  But that’s what’s Hollywood’s hottest star talked about today.

“Good hair. A strong head of hair is important. Damien (Chazelle) is half-Canadian, so that helps as well,” Canadian-born actor Gosling joked, when asked what he looks for in directors at Wednesday’s press conference for First Man, which opens the 2018 Venice Film Fest tonight.

Gosling, who stars in the movie as astronaut Neil Armstrong, said Chazelle had both First Man and La La Land already in mind when they had first met years ago. “Both films lend themselves well to the big screen” and aspire to create a spectacle for audiences, said Gosling, who was in Venice with Chazelle, co-stars Claire Foy and Jason Clarke, and screenwriter Josh Singer.

A Universal Pictures release, First Man chronicles astronaut Armstrong in the eight years leading up to the Apollo 11 moon-landing mission of July 1969.

Gosling, who was Oscar-nominated for his performance in La La Land, praised Chazelle for his great “instincts to know what people want to see” and “ability to bring people together and unite them.”

Chazelle was asked whether he saw First Man as a patriotic film and a testament to the greatness of America. Before he could answer, Gosling jumped in to give his take as non-American.

“Full disclosure: I’m Canadian,” Gosling said. “I think that what Neil achieved was widely regarded as a human achievement, and that’s how we chose to view that. Neil was extremely humble. He deferred the focus from himself to the 400,000 people who made the mission possible. He repeatedly said he was just the tip of the iceberg. He didn’t view himself as an American hero, and we wanted the movie to reflect Neil…[and] honor the way Neil presented himself.”

Chazelle concurred: “As a half-Canadian, half-French, I agree with everything Ryan said.”

This marks for Chazelle the second opening-night bow at Venice Film Fest. La La Land kicked off the festival in 2016, before opening in the U.S., where it became an instant critical and commercial hit and awards grabber, earning Chazelle the Best Director Oscar.

It will be released in the U.S. October 17.