He shot to global fame as Mike Ross on the American legal drama Suits but actor Patrick J Adams, who portrays former American astronaut Major John Glenn in The Right Stuff, says he was “just ready” for a change and the space drama series seemed like a good fit.
Though Adams has appeared on popular shows including Lost, Friday Night Lights and Pretty Little Liars, his breakout role turned out to be of Mike Ross, who impresses New York City’s hotshot lawyer Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) with his encyclopedic knowledge of law despite having no formal degree.
The 39-year-old actor, who left Suits after seven seasons, said he is proud of the work he did on the show but it felt challenging to play a real life person in The Right Stuff.
“I took a break to spend time with my family and to figure out what I wanted to do next and what kind of stories I was interested in telling. I don’t really know why, I was just ready for a change. There were a few things that came along that I almost did and it fell apart at the last minute. Every day of my life is a struggle to establish a new identity,” Adams told PTI during a group interview on Zoom.
In the recently released series, Adams plays Glenn, former US Senator and astronaut, who became the first American to orbit the earth in 1962.
Based on the bestselling book by Tom Wolfe, the series looks at the early days of the US Space Program through the story of America’s first astronauts, the Mercury Seven.
Adams’ Glenn, a revered Marine test pilot and committed family man, and Jake McDorman’s Lieutenant Commander Alan Shepard, one of the best test pilots in Navy history, are at the centre of the story.
Adams said he was excited about The Right Stuff but initially felt unworthy as it revolved around an iconic real-life person and was already played memorably by veteran actor Ed Harris in a 1993 movie.
“… He takes up such a huge part of my brain and it’s a daunting thing to step into that, especially when you’re so used to sort of playing the kid on that show (Suits)” he said.
“… Also, I played someone who had been played so beautifully, by another actor who I admire so much. I answered it by just working as hard as I possibly could to inform myself about who this guy was and figure out what inspired me, what I wanted to bring to it, what version of his story would make sense coming out through me,” he added.
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Humbled and honored to have had the opportunity to be a part of telling the story of the Mercury 7 and the early days of NASA. John Glenn taught me a lot over the course of this shoot and I’m so grateful to finally be able to share it with the world. Check out #therightstuffseries on @disneyplus – first two episodes available for streaming today. Enjoy.
Produced for National Geographic by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Warner Bros Television, The Right Stuff premiered on October 9 on Disney+ Hotstar Premium. The show also stars Michael Trotter and Colin O’Donoghue.
Answering a question on new generation’s connect with Mercury Seven, Trotter said their show is an expansion of the story that has already been narrated in the form of a film and a book earlier.
“A lot of people are like, ‘Oh, why would you remake something that was so good?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, it’s not a remake’,” the actor, who is seen as Gus Grissom, a United States Air Force pilot and a member of the space programme, said.
“Our biggest fans should be fans of the book and the movie because they will get to experience an expansion of a story and they will get to see some more things that were in that framework, that didn’t necessarily get to see,” he added.
O’Donoghue, who stars as Gordon Cooper in the show, said they all did basic pilot training to prepare for their roles.
On his part, Adams said as a reference, the book that was most helpful to him is Alan Shepard’s Light this Candle.
McDorman, who features as Shepard, said he loves movies about space as there is a blend of excitement and fear that goes into a launch and everything that can go right and wrong. His all-time favourite movie is 2001: A Space Odyssey.