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Let’s Hear From the Lady Astronaut Who Taught Gravity‘s Sandra Bullock About Life in Outer Space
by Rebecca Pahle | 4:00 pm, September 15th, 2013
We’ve been a bit obsessed with Gravity as of late, for several reasons: Space! A lady astronaut! Alfonso Cuarón! All those amazing, terrifying trailers! So, needless to say, we were very interested when an interview with Cady Coleman crossed our path. You see, Coleman is the NASA astronaut who taught Gravity star Sandra Bullock about living in space… from space.
Coleman was several months into her five-month stay on the International Space Station when Bullock contacted her in the hopes that she’d get some info that would make her performance as astronaut Dr. Ryan Stone more believable. (Side note: Bullock got Coleman’s name because Bullock’s sister, a chef, met Coleman’s brother, who’s in the “innovative wine packaging” business. That’s a thing?)
“She wanted to know about what it is like to physically live up there and physically move around. ‘What would you do with your hands? With your feet? What would be a natural position to work? How often do you see your crewmates? Where do you meet each other?’… She asked really good questions. I came out of it thinking ‘I am really glad that this woman is making a movie about what it is like to live in space.’”
All that Coleman’s seen of the movie is one of its trailers, all of which feature a spacewalk-gone-wrong that results in Bullock’s character being stranded in space. “It sensationalizes a of things we do actually very carefully,” Coleman says. “For something that is dangerous and that we do take very seriously, to see your worst fears realized in 30 seconds is scary.”
Man. And I thought I, a landlubber, was freaked out by that scene. Though it trends toward the sensationalistic, Coleman gives the film props for giving space travel its due:
“I think the work we do in space is so important and it just can’t be done in other places. And I think exploring space and going out further in the universe are things mankind will do no matter what, you just cannot stop it… Yet it’s very imperative to have the support for that, to have us as a nation or as a world supporting this kind of exploration… In some ways I will take any type of publicity that shows people out in the world that people can live in space. So even though it might portray the scarier aspects of exploring, those aspects exist. There is risk in what we do… the fact that it highlights the real people, including women — smart, strong women that go to space and live up there and work up there — the fact that it would bring attention to that, I think is a valuable thing.”
Here’s hoping Gravity encourages people to be astronauts instead of scaring them off. Hey, Jurassic Park made loads of kids want to be paleontologists even though most of the people in that movie were eaten, so I think Gravity‘s chances are pretty good.