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‘The Right Stuff’: Colin O’Donoghue To Star In Nat Geo Series In Recasting

Deadline logo Deadline 7/12/2019 Denise Petski
Colin O'Donoghue smiling for the camera © Photo by Matt Baron/Shutterstock

EXCLUSIVE: Nat Geo has recast one of the three leads in its upcoming scripted series The Right Stuff, based on Tom Wolfe’s best-selling nonfiction book. Former Once Upon a Time star Colin O’Donoghue will portray Lt. Gordon Cooper opposite Patrick J. Adams and Jake McDorman, taking over for Joe Dempsie, who had to exit the series because of visa issues.

The Right Stuff, from Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Warner Horizon Scripted Television, looks at what would become America’s first “reality show,” as the ambitious astronauts and their families become instant celebrities in a competition that either will kill them or make them immortal in the quest to be a part of Project Mercury. Production begins this month in Cocoa Beach, FL. The series will premiere globally on National Geographic in 2020.

O’Donoghue’s Gordon Cooper is the youngest of the Mercury Seven, who was selected to everyone’s surprise. In the 1983 feature adaptation of Wolfe’s book, Cooper was played by Dennis Quaid.

In addition to Adams and McDorman, O’Donoghue joins cast members Aaron Staton, Michael Trotter, Micah Stock and James Lafferty.

The first season of The Right Stuff, which uses Wolfe’s book as its starting point, starts at the height of the Cold War. To combat a national sentiment of fear and decline, the U.S. government conceives of NASA’s Project Mercury, igniting a space race with the Soviets and making instant celebrities of a handful of the military’s adrenaline-fueled test pilots. These individuals, who come to be known as the Mercury Seven, are forged into heroes long before they have achieved a single heroic act. At the heart of a historic drama populated by deeply human characters, two archrivals — Maj. John Glenn and Alan Shepard — jockey to be the first man in space.

Subsequent seasons will carry through to the epochal Apollo Space Program, during which time humankind saw one of its greatest achievements — man setting foot on the moon — and missions beyond.

DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson are executive producers, along with Mark Lafferty, who will serve as showrunner. Will Staples also is an executive producer. Michael Hampton shepherded the project on behalf of Appian Way.

O’Donoghue starred as Captain Hook in ABC’s Once Upon a Time beginning in Season 2 and throughout the series seventh and final season. He next will be seen in Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings for Netflix. His credits also include features The Rite and Carrie Pilby. He’s repped by Alchemy Entertainment, UTA, JAG in London and Sloane Offer.

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