‘Star cast’: Tom Cruise in race to star in first-ever film shot in space

A space race of a different kind has begun between Russia and the US, and this time it’s to be the first country to shoot a movie in space.

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The space race for the silver screen is to claim the title for being the first to shoot a feature film on the International Space Station — and both countries are vying fiercely for the title. 

At this stage, the Russians seem to be leading the race and have already started casting for the lead role.

While there are no specific details of the plot, the Russian movie — a joint project of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, Channel One and Yellow, Black and White Studio — is thought to be called Challenge. It will be a space drama with elements of the film being shot on the International Space Station.

Female lead for Russian film

The press service of Russia’s TV Channel One, TASS, has announced they will be casting a female in the lead role, and filming at the International Space Station is scheduled for October 2021.

The US is not letting them take the cake though. Tom Cruise is due to fly to the station on the Crew Dragon spaceship in October 2021, as part of a deal with Nasa and Elon Musk-owned SpaceX.

Not much is known about the US film other than that Cruise will front it, with director Doug Liman joining him on the space station to film the space-based scenes.

Russia to open up casting to public

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Both Russia and the US are vying to shoot a film on the International Space Station. Image: Adobe Stock

The Russian casting process of the lead character is an interesting one. According to the press service, Channel One will soon be launching an open contest in search of the female protagonist and her stunt double.

Skynews reported that the casting announcement for the role stated: “A real superhero is required for the part, someone who wants to go to the stars… at the same time as becoming a big international star.” 

While the successful applicant does not have to be a professional actress, she does have to be “aged between 25 and 40, stand between 150 and 180cm tall, weigh between 50 and 70kg, and have a “chest girth” of up to 112cm”.

Competition to find ‘real superhero’

Russian general producer Alexey Trotsyuk said: “We are seeking a woman who would be able to act on Earth, then endure the most demanding preparation, go to space and there is the state of zero gravity to sort the most complicated filming issues.

“This is the first time our studio faced such a demanding task, so we need to find not just an actress but a true superhero.”

The auditions for the role will be broadcast on Channel One, and actresses vying for the lead role will be put through a series of medical, psychological and physical tests.

Actors to undergo rigorous training

The final selection will include two winners — the main character and her double — with a leading man selected separately who will also go into space. 

They will undergo training at a school for cosmonauts and will need to be approved by flight commissioners. 

Channel One will broadcast all the stages of the preparation for the Russian film in a bid to “popularise Russia’s space activities and glorify the cosmonaut profession”. 

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