Team Daedalus was the best and brightest and seemed destined to forge mankind's path into space. The bravest, boldest and fastest test pilots this country had to offer, they were the future, they were brothers, and most of all, they were mavericks. The promise of space flight seemed theirs for the taking ... but the government had other plans. And Team Daedalus was grounded.
Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner star as a group of pilots whose time has come to serve their country and fulfill their dream of going to space in "Space Cowboys," a high tech adventure produced and directed by Eastwood. Filmed with the full cooperation of NASA, with segments produced both at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, and the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, FL, "Space Cowboys" is written by Ken Kaufman & Howard Klausner.
In 1958, the members of Team Daedalus, a group of top Air Force test pilots, were ready to serve their country as the first Americans in space. When NASA replaced the Air Force for outer atmospheric testing, Team Daedalus was pushed aside and a chimpanzee got the honor. The team retired, but the dream of going into space never died.
Now, over four decades later, the Russian satellite Ikon has suffered a systems failure that Russian officials insist will cause a total communications blackout in their country. NASA bureaucrat Bob Gerson (JAMES CROMWELL) stumbles toward a solution – and finds it in a very unexpected place. Since Ikon has the same guidance system as early American satellite Skylab, Skylab's designer should know how to fix Ikon.
Now retired, Frank Corvin (CLINT EASTWOOD) is the one man alive who can do the job. This is the chance of a lifetime to finally go into space … but Frank won't take it unless he can surround himself with the only crew he trusts.
Team Daedalus is back in action.
Frank, Hawk Hawkins (TOMMY LEE JONES), Jerry O'Neil (DONALD SUTHERLAND) and Tank Sullivan (JAMES GARNER) relish the opportunity to show their stuff. Seasoned veterans with an attitude, the team stretches the rules and strains the patience of Eugene Davis (WILLIAM DEVANE), their Flight Director, as well as their much younger counterparts, Ethan Glance (LOREN DEAN) and Roger Hines (COURTNEY B. VANCE).
They will need every ounce of strength and resourcefulness to make it through their abbreviated training, complete their mission and rescue Ikon. The heroic challenge has arrived.
Let the countdown begin.
Warner Bros. Pictures, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures/Clipsal Films, presents "Space Cowboys." Produced by Malpaso Productions and Mad Chance Productions, the film stars Clint Eastwood ("True Crime," "Unforgiven"), Tommy Lee Jones ("Rules of Engagement," "Double Jeopardy"), Donald Sutherland ("A Time To Kill," "JFK") and James Garner ("Maverick," TV's "Rockford Files"). The film is produced and directed by Clint Eastwood and also produced by ANDREW Lazar, with Tom Rooker serving as executive producer. The film also stars MARCIA GAY HARDEN ("Meet Joe Black," "Desperate Measures"), William Devane ("The Hollow Man," "Payback"), Loren Dean ("Mumford," "Enemy of the State") Courtney B. Vance ("Cookie’s Fortune," "The Preacher’s Wife") and James Cromwell (Academy Award winner for "Babe," "L.A. Confidential").
The creative behind-the-scenes team is led by Eastwood's longtime collaborators: director of photography Jack N. Green, A.S.C., production designer Henry Bumstead, editor Joel Cox and composer LENNIE NIEHAUS, all of whom worked with Eastwood on "Unforgiven," "Absolute Power" and "Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil," among other projects. "Space Cowboys" also features state-of-the-art effects provided by groundbreaking effects house Industrial Light & Magic.
The film is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures and, in select territories, by Village Roadshow. www.spacecowboys.net
Oscar-winning performer, director and producer Clint Eastwood assembled an acclaimed cast of some of the most respected actors in the industry, led by Academy Award-winner Tommy Lee Jones ("The Fugitive"), Academy Award-nominated James Garner ("Murphy’s Romance") and Emmy Award-winning film legend Donald Sutherland ("Citizen X"). "It’s a terrific cast," says Eastwood. "They are people whose work I’ve always admired. I worked with Jimmy years ago when we were both starting out in one of his ‘Maverick’ episodes, and I’ve known him for years. We’ve listened to Donald’s jokes and Jim’s ailments on a daily basis. And we’ve had a lot of laughs along the way."
"Clint enjoys cinema and is determined to enjoy it, so everybody has a good time making his movies," adds Tommy Lee Jones. "And of course, the company I’m in, the actors, are all great fun. The uniqueness, the pleasure of this company extends certainly to the camera crew and the grips and costume people and everyone else working on this production."
Eastwood stars as Frank Corvin, the leader of a team of hotshot pilots and scientists who were taken out of the running for spaceflight when NASA took over space operations. "Team Daedalus was a bunch of guys who were ahead of their time in the '50s," says Eastwood. "They had the pioneering mentality. They pioneered the early spaceflight -- breaking through the sound barriers and going up to the substratosphere. Chuck Yeager and the other pilots of the fifties, they never actually got to space. But they wanted it badly. And when they were ready to go and the whole world was ready to see them go, they got replaced by a monkey."
Tommy Lee Jones stars as Hawk Hawkins, a flight-test fighter pilot who is willing to take whatever risk necessary to push the performance envelope of any aircraft. As part of Team Daedalus, he is designated as the key pilot of the space shuttle. Hawkins is also Corvin's best friend. "This fellow’s an aggressive pilot, and that attitude extends throughout all aspects of his life," Jones says.
Donald Sutherland, one of the most prolific and versatile of motion picture actors, stars as Jerry O'Neil, pilot, astrophysicist and ladies man whose insights and humor keep Team Daedalus on course and technically up to date. "It’s Jerry’s job to prepare the other astronauts to go to work on the guidance system of the Ikon satellite," says Sutherland. "But what they didn’t know about this satellite is that the specs they originally had for it aren’t really accurate anymore. So, in essence, they have to go into space to discover the reason why the sucker weighs so much and why it is falling out of orbit. But we have a couple of problems."
James Garner stars as Tank Sullivan, the country preacher, pilot and robotics expert for Team Daedalus. He is an essential component for both maintaining peace in the group and operating the highly sensitive equipment necessary for in-flight satellite repair. "Tank is an old pilot who was in the Air Force for many years and then the Space Program," says Garner. "And when the team didn't go into space the way they were supposed to, he finally got out of the service and became a preacher. So he's a preacher and a grandfather, and all that now."
As for being replaced by a chimpanzee, Garner jokes that "It pops up in everyone's mind every once in a while to think that the chimpanzee was smarter than they were."
As the young astronaut Ethan Glance, who competes and goes into space side-by-side with Team Daedalus, is Loren Dean, who recently starred in the highly acclaimed film "Mumford." Assigned by NASA to accompany Team Daedalus into space, Glance is an over-achieving, adversarial component in the mix of personalities on this launch, often butting heads with team leader Corvin.
The other young astronaut is Roger Hines, played by Courtney B. Vance, star of "Cookie’s Fortune" and "The Preacher’s Wife."
Marcia Gay Harden stars as NASA Mission Director Sara Holland, the woman coordinating the flight to repair the Ikon satellite. In addition to her official responsibilities, Holland develops a personal friendship with Team Daedalus pilot Hawk Hawkins (Tommy Lee Jones).
James Cromwell stars as Bob Gerson, the man in charge of the entire mission to repair the Ikon satellite. Gerson is a retired general who, prior to moving to NASA, was the commanding officer to Team Daedalus. It was Gerson who canceled the team’s original flight into space, replacing the pilots with a chimp.
William Devane stars as NASA flight director Eugene Davis who supervises all astronaut training, launch preparation and shuttle communications from Mission Control.
About the Production
Principal photography on "Space Cowboys" began in mid July, l999, and continued through mid October, with locations in the general Los Angeles area (Saugus, Agua Dulce, Canyon Country, March Air Force Base and Victorville) providing the background for most of the early years of the story, followed by sequences filmed at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The remainder of the film was shot on soundstages at the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California, which were used to house sets constructed to replicate the space shuttle interior, the Russian Ikon satellite, and a variety of aircraft (from a B-l Bomber to an early experimental jet) and in-flight simulators.
Coordinated by Academy-Award winning production designer Henry Bumstead ("The Sting," "To Kill A Mockingbird"), these sets also included the first accurate representation of Houston's new Mission Control Center, complete with large-screen high-definition communications imaging, exactly as used during actual flights.
The scenes filmed at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, included training sequences in which the entire team Daedalus was put through virtually the same training phases used to prepare actual astronauts for space travel -- the shuttle simulator, the shuttle simulator control booth, the virtual reality room, and the neutral buoyancy lab.
To further enhance the credibility of the film, the "Space Cowboys" crew traveled to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, in order to shoot the Vehicle Assembly Building, launch pad and landing facility for all NASA flights. Likewise, actors Eastwood, Jones, Sutherland and Garner said goodbye to friends and family in the real astronaut blockhouse, were dressed for flight in the suit-up room used by NASA astronauts and waited for their transfer to the shuttle launch in the actual astronaut ready room.
"I wanted to make the film as believable as possible," Eastwood explains. "In order to do that we needed NASA's help to get as close as we could to the circumstances surrounding a launch. It's a complicated process and it requires careful planning and teamwork on all levels. Bringing a film crew in to simulate the whole thing was probably an even bigger headache for NASA, but the agency really came through for us. I couldn't be more pleased with the results."
Since the film required scenes of weightlessness, the cast was put through a battery of simulation rigs. "We've done it, I suppose, in every way that it can be done," Tommy Lee Jones muses. "We've hung people from ceilings; we've had people stand around holding on to walls as if that were necessary to keep yourself from floating off; and then we have ballpoint pens and clipboards floating by suspended on filament lines; we've been on little stools that have caster wheels on them that move around. It really presents no challenge to an actor; all you have to do is stand there and take these various rides, but it’s a group effort for the whole company. The other thing we've done is simply move the camera around a great deal. And sometimes using all those things in combination, one with the other, creates the illusion of weightlessness successfully maybe seventy percent of the time."
Eastwood adds: "I think we've been pretty good with it. We've used every trick possible, from where the actors are floating themselves and looking loose, or sitting on a special kind of bench that moves this way or a table gliding, or gliding across the floor."
Eastwood points out that in previous space-set films, the cast and production crew would all fly up in a giant cargo plane to achieve weightlessness for a few seconds at a stretch. "They used to call it the ‘Vomit Comet,’ which is an old G-3 that they would take up and get into a weightless situation and then you would try to play a scene," he notes. "If you were in a small container, you could do that and build the set on the plane. But it got that nickname for a reason. It's a little harder this way, but it beats the alternative."
The visual effects in Space Cowboys, created by Industrial Light & Magic, required techniques ranging from the most traditional to the most cutting edge. Many of the sequences in space incorporated miniature spaceships photographed using motion control cameras, digitally painted backgrounds, computer graphics "astronauts" and live action actors. The integration of this variety of old and new techniques mirrors the story of the movie. As ILM's visual effects supervisor Michael Owens explains, "We're doing the exterior space shots and the X2 flight sequence. The effects shots combine the actors with models and miniatures, stage sets, and digital stunt doubles, all seamlessly incorporated to look real."
Warner Bros. Pictures presents in Association with Village Roadshow Pictures/Clipsal Films a Malpaso Production and Mad Chance Production. Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner star in "Space Cowboys," also starring Marcia Gay Harden, William Devane, Loren Dean, Courtney B. Vance and James Cromwell. Music is by Lennie Niehaus. The film is edited by Joel Cox. Henry Bumstead is the production designer. Jack N. Green, A.S.C. is the director of photography. The film is executive produced by Tom Rooker and produced by Andrew Lazar. Written by Ken Kaufman & Howard Klausner, "Space Cowboys" is produced and directed by Clint Eastwood.