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Look out for more coverage of
The Astronaut Farmer in our magazines

THE MOVIE: The Astronaut Farmer

THE STARS:
Billy Bob Thornton • Virginia Madsen • Bruce Dern • Bruce Willis
DIRECTOR: Michael Polish

Billy Bob Thornton as Farmer and writer Mark Polish THE CONCEPT:
Since he was a child Charles Farmer (Thornton) has only wanted to be an astronaut, but a family situation forced him to drop out of NASA’s astronaut training program. Not letting anything stand in the way of his dream, he has spent years building his own rocket in the barn on the ranch that he shares with his wife, Audie (Madsen), and their children, convinced that one day he will blast off into Space…

U.S. RELEASE: February 23 2007, Nationwide
• Rated: PG

THE COMMENTS:

MARK POLISH (screenwriter and producer):
“Although he wasn’t an eccentric building a rocket, there are a lot of things that our father did that inspired us (he and his brother Michael, who directed the movie) to be filmmakers. He showed us that anything’s possible if you put your mind to it.”

BILLY BOB THORNTON:
“The script was amazing. I had done a few comedies in a row and I knew I was going to do a drama next. This came along and it was the kind of movie I had wanted to do my whole life. This is why you become an actor. This was the Sergeant York-, Mr Smith Goes to Washington-, Field of Dreams-movie that I’d always wanted to do. It’s nice that it had an edge, a subversive nature too, that didn’t hurt.”

VIRGINIA MADSEN:
“The script was really solid. A lot of times if there’s a female (lead) in the script, it’s underdeveloped, especially if it’s a wife. I just thought she was so real and strong and I liked that she and Charles were so close. It was really about the family as a whole that spoke to me.”

POLISH:
“Billy Bob was the actor that we felt had the ultimate believability of the farmer and the astronaut. There aren’t a lot of actors that you could believe could work 70-head of cattle, and could be in the Mercury Seven lineup, and you could imagine Billy Bob as one of those guys. As a dreamer himself and someone who made it later in life and never gave up, I think he’s closer to Charles Farmer than a lot of the characters that he’s played.”

RICK SEARFOSS (former NASA astronaut):
“I asked Mark Polish, ‘Did you talk to any astronauts before you started writing this screenplay, because you hit the emotional side spot on.’”

THORNTON:
“The studio wanted a movie star for the cameo role [of the veteran astronaut]. I said that I thought Bruce [Willis] would be great for this. Bruce will do something like this for his friends if he likes it. He loved the script and he came to New Mexico to do it.”

RICK SEARFOSS:
“I can only surmise that the reaction amongst astronauts will be overwhelmingly positive like it was for me. Every colleague that I’ve flown in space with, including a couple of Russian cosmonauts, dreamed of doing this for many years, and that’s what the overwhelming message of this movie is; the power of dreams.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Visit the official The Astronaut Farmer site
Images above © Warner Brothes Pictures
Feature © 2007 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #681, April 2007 cover

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