Kristen Stewart to star as lesbian astronaut Sally Ride in upcoming series

Kristen Stewart at the 2022 Film Independent Spirit Awards
Kristen Stewart at the 2022 Film Independent Spirit Awards Photo: Shutterstock

Kristen Stewart is set to blast off!

The out star of Love Lies Bleeding and Happiest Season will play lesbian astronaut Sally Ride in an upcoming series about the NASA space shuttle astronaut class of 1978 and the commission that investigated the 1986 Challenger disaster, according to Deadline.

Stewart will not only star in the The Challenger, she will also serve as an executive producer on the series along with actor and LGBTQ+ ally Kyra Sedgwick’s Big Swing Productions and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. The series is based on author Meredith Bagby’s 2022 book The New Guys, about the 1978 class. Amazon’s Prime Video is reportedly close to acquiring the limited series.

As Sedgwick noted, the show will also mark Stewart’s first foray into TV.

“She has never done television, but when she read this she became obsessed with telling the story of Sally Ride from her own unique perspective that I won’t even try to paraphrase because she is so eloquent about it,” Sedgwick told Deadline. “She was so stunning in these pitch meetings and that was a huge part of why it has been so competitive. She’s so compelling and was so rabid about telling this story about an American hero who had to hide who she was, in that time.”

NASA’s 1978 class was its first since 1969, and its first to include women and people of color. Ride became the first American woman in space, as well as the youngest American astronaut, when she piloted the space shuttle at the age of 32 in 1983. Following the Challenger explosion three years later, she joined the Rogers Commission investigating the cause of the disaster. Following her 2012 death, it was revealed that she had provided the information that directly led to the discover of the disaster’s cause.

Her 2012 obituary also revealed that she had been in a 27-year relationship with former Women’s Tennis Association player Tam O’Shaughnessy, making her the first known LGBTQ+ person to pilot a space shuttle. President Barack Obama awarded her a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom the following year. Ride was featured on a U.S. stamp in 2018 and became the first LGBTQ+ person to be featured on U.S. currency when her image was featured on a quarter in 2022.

“Who better to play Sally Ride than one of the great actors of her generation?” Sedgwick said of Stewart. “As they say in Hollywood, passion wins the day. Her passion for being an executive producer is vast. As dogged as we were about getting the script to her, she has been that dogged about getting it sold in the marketplace.”

According to Sedgwick, Stewart was instrumental in getting the series made. “Right now when everyone is saying that nobody is buying anything, she would not listen and nor would we because if we had listened to all the times we were told this would be too hard, we would never have gotten this off the ground,” she said.

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