Jerrie Cobb was one of the Mercury 13, and perhaps the most accomplished of those 13 women who strove to become astronauts during the early 1960s. (13 women took the same tests as the male astronaut candidates did - over the course of many months, however, not all at once - and several of them scored better than the men did. But when the rules were changed so that only jet pilots could become astronauts, the women were left out in the cold.)
The movie is in the works, but appears to cover the entire Mercury 13 program, with the emphasis on Jerrie Cobb's story. (The women did not arrive to be tested as a group, as the men did.)
A sample post from the Almost Mercury blog:
Posted on September 1, 2010 by Mary
Some say that casting is where the movie is really made, practically 100%. And in the lead role especially. Now as a director who slaves over every choice of color palette in the production design thru color timing of the final not to mention a million other tiny details I like to think a little more goes into it… but in some ways those who say this are right. Finding the right actress for a lead is as central as the script, the idea, who is directing, really there is no more important moment.
Some directors might choose to not blog or share anything about a casting process because there is such a fear or concern about doing/saying the wrong thing. I guess I think differently and I like to hope that the more I share of myself and my process the better chance the right people will read and see who I am, how I approach things and the right people will gravitate to this film. “Right” meaning like minded collaborators, people with a passion for the work and people who either think similarly or are a good compliment to our approach. Also knowing what a closed field film at the higher levels is, I think many budding filmmakers can learn from this process.
Sometimes you long for the old days starting out in theater or short films when you just picked up the phone, had a great idea and called actor friends you know and they looked to see if they liked your idea and were free and viola, instant casting! Everybody was so excited! I have to wonder if at the highest level with very well known directors and actors who all know each other this may still happen again. But with high powered careers and money in play and cosmetic contracts and comic book characters that pay many millions and establish franchises that support oodles of people this model sort of falls by the wayside. Instead actors may have a lot to lose picking the “wrong” project, either in time, money or momentum. Similarly a film must consider not just who seems to be the very best actor but also who is “bankable” and who can lead the film into good financial support.
While I understand and navigate those concerns, gosh darn, I just can’t help but secretly hope that at it’s essence it still really is just and artist to artist response… that a screenplay is read and evaluated at the other end and finally reaches a person who loves film, wants to make meaningful films and know in their soul when they read a part they would be perfect for and want to give that effort their all.
Of course if I am hoping for this on the other end of this equation I must myself provide the complimentary part of this equation… take on projects I am deeply committed to, listen to financial concerns but know when to move in instinct and convictions. And at heart to take cues from the material and story itself… because Jerrie Cobb lived her life with a certain integrity.
Finding Jerrie… a complicated dance that at it’s essence might really be so simple. May these next weeks and months lead us to just the right person for this role.
The "Mercury 13"
Geraldyn "Jerrie" Cobb
Jan & Marion Dietrich
Gene Nora Stumbough Jessen
Sarah Lee Gorelick Ratley
Bernice "Bea" Steadman
Geraldine "Jerri" Sloan Truhill
Rhea Allison Woltman