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A NASA Historian Talks HIDDEN FIGURES and John Glenn’s Legacy

Ever notice how in every period movie about prejudice or bigotry, there’s always that one good white guy who goes out of his way to fight oppression and make things right? You know, you’ve got Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, Brad Pitt’s character in 12 Years a Slave, Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained… seriously, the list goes on and on.

Well, Hidden Figures, the upcoming biopic about the black women who worked at NASA during the Space Race, has one of those white guys, too. This time, though, it’s a name everyone knows: John Glenn, the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth in 1962. Throughout the movie he goes out of his way to be kind to the pool of black mathematicians, and while it’s ridiculously charming (thanks in no small part to Glenn Powell’s performance), it definitely had me walking out of my screening wondering if the real John Glenn was really that woke in real life.

As it turns out, he was! Just ask NASA’s chief historian Bill Barry, who worked director with the creators of Hidden Figures — and who walked out of his screening impressed with the incredible level of true-to-life detail that the movie captured. I sat down with him at a press junket in New York City, along with astronaut Stephanie Wilson and NASA engineer Dr. Sheila Nash-Stevenson, and he told us all a great story about a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-moment in the movie that speaks to John Glenn’s real life status as a full-on social justice warrior.

How hyped are you to check out Hidden Figures when it finally hits theaters? Let us know in the comments below!

Image: 20th Century Fox

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