If Tom Cruise is looking a little depressed these days, it’s because another actor is about to beat him to the International Space Station to film the first on-location space thriller. That actor is Yulia Peresild. Who?
“On May 13, 2021, the State Commission completed the candidate selection for participating in the spaceflight to film the motion picture tentatively called ‘Challenge’.
As a result of medical and creative selection, the State Commission recommended to nominate Yulia Peresild and Klim Shipenko as the prime crew and Alyona Mordovina and Alexey Dudin as the backup crew. The filming will take place at the International Space Station. The expedition is planned to launch on October 5, 2021 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft.”
The Russian space agency Roscosmos issued a press release announcing the selection of Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko after eliminating the other finalists from an open competition which began in November 2020 when the space agency and the local Russian channel Channel One commenced looking for an actress and a director with no space experience necessary. According to her bio, Peresild is a philologist (student of languages) at the Pedagogical Institute in Peskov, her hometown, and a graduate of the Russian Academy of Theater Arts. She has appeared in more than 30 films (Battle for Sevastopol, The Heritage of Love, Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes, Cold Tango are a few) and is one of the leading actresses at the State Theater of Nations. Peresild is married to the Russian director, producer and writer Aleksey Uchitel and the mother of two daughters.
“All selected candidates will begin special training for space flight participants no later than June 1. Among other things, they will have to take centrifuge tests, vibration stand tests, perform introductory and training flights on a zero-gravity plane, undergo parachute training. All this will be covered by Channel One.”
According to the BBC, ‘Challenge’ will tell the story of a female surgeon’s mission to perform an operation on a cosmonaut too ill to return to Earth immediately. No word on whether there will be any alien predators or skimpy costumes (think Sigourney Weaver in ‘Alien’) but Roscosmos says it will be “part of a large-scale scientific and educational project” showing how “spaceflights are gradually becoming available not only for professionals, but also for an increasingly wider range of those interested.” Sure … as long as you’re beautiful and willing to wear a formfitting spacesuit while vomiting on a centrifuge.
Peresild and Shipenko are expected to travel to the ISS on October 5th and will spend 12 days on the station shooting scenes “Challenge” before returning on a Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft. Another actress, Alena Mordovina, will train as the backup for the mission. A third finalist, Galina Kairova, a pilot and amateur actress, was invited by Roscosmos to train to become a professional cosmonaut.
Timing is everything – in 2020, NASA confirmed that actor Tom Cruise will make a Hollywood thriller on the ISS and was expected to also fly there in October. With Peresild and her film crew already arriving so early in the month and space in the space station at a premium, it looks like being the first actor in space is mission impossible for Cruise.
“Friends, wish me luck.”
In the meantime, Peresild asked her Instagram fans for support as she prepares to become a real-life Ellen Ripley. She could become the first actress in history to win both an Oscar and a medal.