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William Hurt to Star in New Drama From BBC & Science

Related: BBC, Science
William Hurt to Star in New Drama From BBC & Science

The BBC and SCIENCE are co-producing a new factual drama starring award-winning actor William Hurt ("Altered States", "Kiss of the Spider Woman", "Children of a Lesser God", "History of Violence", "Into the Wild", "Too Big To Fail"). Hurt will play the brilliant U.S. physicist Richard Feynman, who was instrumental in uncovering the truth behind the space shuttle Challenger disaster of 1986.

When Challenger exploded 73 seconds into its flight on the morning of January 28, 1986, it represented one of the most shocking events in the history of American spaceflight. A Presidential Commission was immediately convened to explore what had gone wrong, but with the vast complexity of the space shuttle and so many vested interests involved in the investigation, discovering the truth was an almost impossible challenge.

A truly independent member of the investigation was Richard Feynman. One of the most accomplished scientists of his generation; he worked on the Manhattan Project building the first atom bomb and won the Nobel Prize for his breakthroughs in quantum physics. Feynman deployed exceptional integrity, charm and relentless scientific logic to investigate the secrets of the shuttle disaster and in doing so, helped make the U.S. space program safer.

Kim Shillinglaw, BBC Commissioning Editor, Science and Natural History said, "This is the gripping story of a brilliant physicist's battle for scientific truth in the dark corridors of big government. With an impressive cast, including award-winning actor William Hurt, it promises to be a powerful factual drama for BBC Two and part of our mission to make science programmes ever more surprising and ambitious."

"The Challenger disaster represents an indelible moment in American history - anyone who is old enough to recall it remembers exactly where they were then this terrible tragedy occurred," said Debbie Myers, General Manager and Executive Vice President of SCIENCE. "SCIENCE is honored to work with the incomparable William Hurt to tell the story of Richard Feynman, a true-life hero and one of most controversial scientific minds of our time."

Other cast confirmed include Canadian actor Bruce Greenwood ("Thirteen Days", "Star Trek", "Super 8", "I, Robot") who plays fellow Commissioner U.S. Air Force General Donald Kutyna in the second lead role. He is joined by American actor Brian Dennehy ("First Blood", "The Belly of an Architect", "Bunker Hill", "Twelfth Night") who is playing William Rogers, Chairman of the Presidential Commission and English actress Joanne Whalley ("The Singing Detective", "Edge of Darkness", "The Virgin Queen", "The Borgias") who is playing Feynman's wife Gweneth.

Also starring it the drama are English actors Kevin McNally ("Pirates of the Caribbean", "Margaret", "Wuthering Heights") who will play Larry Mulloy, head of the Solid Rocket Booster program at NASA's Marshall Space Centre and Henry Goodman ("The Merchant of Venice", "The Damned United", "Notting Hill") as Doctor Weiss. Eve Best ("The King's Speech", "Nurse Jackie", "The Shadow Line", "Shackleton") is playing astronaut Sally Ride.

Filming begins in October 2012 and the program, a BBC Scotland Science and Science Channel co-production is due to broadcast on BBC Two and SCIENCE in 2013.

For the BBC, Mark Hedgecoe ("Operation Iceberg" and "How to Grow A Planet", "Rome: The Rise And Fall Of An Empire") and Cassian Harrison ("Earthflight", "First Light") are executive producers, and Laurie Borg ("Great Expectations", "Made in Dagenham", "Sense and Sensibility", "Occupation") is producer. James Hawes ("Enid", "Suspicions of Mister Whicher", "Mad Dogs", "Doctor Who", "Fanny Hill") is director and the script is by Kate Gartside ("Mistresses", "Lillies" and "Lark Rise To Candleford", "Stopping Distance").

For SCIENCE, Rocky Collins (THROUGH THE WORMHOLE WITH Morgan Freeman and DARK MATTERS: TWISTED BUT TRUE) is executive producer, Bernadette McDaid is Vice President of Production, and Deborah Adler Myers is General Manager and Executive Vice President.

About SCIENCE:

SCIENCE, a division of Discovery Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), is home for the thought provocateur, the individual who is unafraid to ask the killer questions of "how" and "why not." The network is a playground for those with audacious intellects and features programming willing to go beyond imagination to explore the unknown. Guided by curiosity, SCIENCE looks for innovation in mysterious new worlds as well as in its own backyard. SCIENCE and the SCIENCE HD simulcast reach more than 74 million U.S. households. 

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