Russia Picks Actor-Director Team to Launch into Space for Film Shoot, Ahead of Tom Cruise

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Russia’s plan to film a movie in space this year is moving full speed ahead as actress Yulia Peresild and filmmaker Klim Shipenko have been selected to star in and helm the project, respectively (via BBC). Russia’s Roscosmos space agency has announced the two artists will travel to space October 5. The movie, which has the working title “Challenge,” tells “the story of a female surgeon’s mission to perform an operation on a cosmonaut too ill to return to Earth immediately.”

According to BBC: “Russia’s Roscosmos space agency says Peresild and Shipenko have undergone both a medical and a creative selection process. Their special space flight training is to begin no later than June 1 and will include centrifuge and vibration tests, flights on a zero-gravity plane, and parachute training.”

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Peresild reportedly beat out 19 other actresses for the starring role in “Challenge.” The 36-year-old actress is an Honored Artist of the Russian Federation with credits that include “The Edge” and “Battle for Sevastopol.” Shipenko is best known as the director of “Serf,” a 2019 comedy that grossed more than $42 million at the box office. The 37-year-old filmmaker also helmed “Salyut 7,” a disaster movie set in space.

Russia’s plan to send a film crew to space in 2021 was first revealed in late December 2020. The announcement went viral as the Russian production will become the first narrative feature shot entirely in space, beating an earlier-announced U.S. production with Tom Cruise and his “Edge of Tomorrow” director Doug Liman. Cruise’s $200 million space movie was announced May 4, 2020. The actor is partnering with NASA and Elon Musk’s aerospace manufacturing company SpaceX for the movie, which is currently being written and will include major action sequences shot aboard the ISS

An open casting call took place in Russia to find the actress for “Challenge,” but the demands of going to space resulted in specific requirements for the performer. As Sky News reported at the time: “The actress must weigh between 50 and 70 kg and have a ‘chest girth’ of up to 112 cm…Additionally, she must be able to run 1 km in three-and-a-half minutes or less, swim 800 m freestyle in 20 minutes, and dive from a three-meter springboard with an impressive technique.”

Head over to the BBC’s website for more news on the Russian production heading to space this October.

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