HIDDEN FIGURES uncovers the incredible, untold yet true story of a brilliant group of women who changed the foundations of the country for the better -- by aiming for the stars. The film recounts the vital history of an elite team of black female mathematicians at NASA who helped win the all-out space race against America’s rivals in the Soviet Union and, at the same time, sent the quest for equal rights and opportunity rocketing forwards.
Everyone knows about the Apollo missions. We can all immediately list the bold male astronauts who took those first giant steps for humankind in space: John Glenn, Alan Shepard and Neil Armstrong. Yet, remarkably, Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson’s are names not taught in school or even known to most people -- even though their daring, smarts and powerful roles as NASA’s ingenious “human computers” were indispensable to advances that allowed for human space flight.
At last, the story of a visionary trio of women who crossed gender, race and professional lines on their way to pioneering cosmic travel comes to the screen starring Oscar®-nominee Taraji P. Henson (Empire, Benjamin Button, Hustle And Flow), Academy Award® winner Octavia Spencer (Allegiant, Fruitvale Station, The Help), singer Janelle Monáe making her motion picture debut and two time Oscar® winner Kevin Costner (Black Or White, Field Of Dreams, Dancing With Wolves).
Director Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent) brings the women’s rise to the top ranks of aerospace in the thrilling early days of NASA to life via a fast-moving, humor-filled, inspiring entertainment that illuminates both the gutsy quest for Earth’s first, seemingly impossible orbital flight and also the powerful things that can result when women unite.
For all its joys and triumphs, Hidden Figures is also a film that takes place at the crossroads of the most defining struggles in American history: the evolving fight for Civil Rights; the battle to win the high-stakes Cold War without risking nuclear war and be the first superpower to establish a human presence outside planet Earth; and the ongoing drive to show how the mind-boggling technological breakthroughs that create the world’s future have nothing to do with gender or background.
Says Melfi: “This story takes place at the collision of the Cold War, the space race, the Jim Crow south, and the birth of the Civil Rights movement. It is incredible territory for a rich and powerful story few people know about at all.”
Adds Taraji P. Henson: “Now we know there were amazing women behind how John Glenn came to orbit the earth in space -- we finally get to hear their story.”
Touchingly, Katherine G. Johnson, now in her 90s, finds the growing fascination with her life’s work and that of her fellow compatriots a surprise as she says she was always just doing her best for her job, her family and her community, as she believes anybody would. “I was just solving problems that needed to be solved,” she says with characteristic modesty.
As for what she advises people facing challenges today, Johnson says: “Stick with it. No matter the problem, it can be solved. A woman can solve it -- and a man can too, if you give him a lot of time.”
Fox 2000 Pictures Presents A Chernin Entertainment / Levantine Films Production, Hidden Figures, directed by Theodore Melfi from a screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Melfi, based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly. The producers are Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams and Theodore Melfi and the executive producers are Jamal Daniel, Renee Witt, Ivana Lombardi, Mimi Valdés, Kevin Halloran and Shetterly.
Joining Henson, Spencer, Monáe and Costner is a cast that includes Emmy nominated Mahershala Ali (Free State Of Jones, House Of Cards), Emmy nominated Kirsten Dunst (Fargo, Spiderman, Mona Lisa Smile), four time Emmy winner Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory, The Normal Heart) and Kimberly Quinn (St. Vincent, Gypsy). The behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Mandy Walker (Jane Got A Gun, Australia), production designer Wynn Thomas (Grudge Match, Cinderella Man, A Beautiful Mind), editor Peter Teschner (St. Vincent, Identity Thief), costume designer Renée Erlich Kalfus (Annie, Friends With Benefits, Chocolat) and composers Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams and Benjamin Wallfisch.