Natalie Portman is officially cast in the lead role for Noah Hawley’s astronaut drama, Pale Blue Dot. The drama is being produced by Fox Searchlight and comes from Fargo and Legion creator Hawley, who is also working with Searchlight’s sister studio, 20th Century Fox, on developing a live-action Doctor Doom film, in addition to continuing his work with FX Networks. The film will follow an astronaut as she returns home from spending long periods of time in space, facing difficulties with reacclimating to her seemingly perfect American lifestyle.
The movie’s title is inspired by the iconic Pale Blue Dot photograph and quote. For those that don’t know, at the request of astronomer Carl Sagan, NASA took one last photograph of Earth from the Voyager 1 in 1990 before the spacecraft exited the solar system. From a distance of 4 billion miles, Earth was nothing more than a pale blue dot. Sagan then offered his famous quote that, on that pale blue dot, everyone anyone has ever known – family, friends, world leaders – and everything anyone has ever known – religions, ideologies, doctrines – existed on that “mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” Hawley’s film is looking to take that feeling of insignificance in the grand scheme of things and turn it into a feature film.
THR reports that Natalie Portman is joining Noah Hawley’s Pale Blue Dot as a married astronaut who has an affair with another astronaut, who in turn has an affair with an astronaut trainee, thus sparking an astronaut love-triangle, which is inspired by a real-life story from 2007. The actress is replacing Reese Witherspoon who, unfortunately, had to exit the project due to scheduling conflicts with production on season 2 of HBO’s Big Little Lies, though Witherspoon will still produce the film.
This news comes on the heels of Walt Disney Studios agreeing to acquire 21st Century Fox’s movie and TV assets, including 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight studios, for $52.4 billion. Until the deal goes through and is approved by federal regulators, which could take up to 18 months to complete, Fox is adamant about continuing with business as usual. They are green-lighting various films and TV shows that may not release for another few years, such as Pale Blue Dot and the recently announced Kitty-Pryde adaptation.
As a Fox Searchlight production, Pale Blue Dot may release towards the tail-end of its respective year and be put into awards contention. The studio is known for producing award-winning films such as 127 Hours, 12 Years a Slave, Slumdog Millionaire, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and The Shape of Water, among numerous others. In fact, Portman’s history with the studio has netted her two Academy Award nominations for Best Actress – for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan and Pablo Larraín’s Jackie– and one win (Black Swan). Given her history and the director’s proclivity for producing critically-acclaimed products, it’s possible that Pale Blue Dot may garner Portman a third Oscar nomination (and possible second win), if everything goes according to plan.