The diapers, says #LucyInTheSky director Noah Hawley, “just didn’t fit into the story.” I repeat: There are no diapers in the astronaut movie. Adjust your expectations accordingly! #TIFF19 via @AmyKinLA @latimes https://t.co/1HFJJyAXXY— jen yamato (@jenyamato) September 11, 2019
The upcoming film Lucy in the Sky, which stars Natalie Portman, John Hamm, and Zazie Beetz, is inspired by real life astronaut Lisa Nowak who is most well known for driving 950 miles to confront (and attempt to kidnap) another woman who'd slept with an astronaut Nowak was having an affair with. The story gained special notoriety because she allegedly wore diapers so as to reduce having to stop for bathroom breaks. Nowak has since denied that particular detail.
Director Noah Hawley on his passing familiarity with Lisa Nowak's story: "I didn’t know a lot of it, other than the tabloid details. What was interesting to me, as I thought about taking this on, was what’s really behind a tabloid story? A human being with dignity who made some bad choices and ended up in a story that is now smaller than it should be. Her human experience has been reduced to a joke, on some level. I wanted to try to tell that story, and allow her to retain her dignity — but you now understand what she did, and now it’s a tragedy and not a farce."
What drew Hawley to this film: "The script that I read was a story of a psychological decline that had these elements of magical realism in it. It was a film about trying to understand decisions someone made that aren’t understandable. She had everything and was at the top of the world, literally, but then things unraveled."
On why it's "inspired" by Nowak rather than "based" on her: "When Fox Searchlight came to me with this film, there weren’t life rights that had been optioned. So the mission was never to tell the actual story. The fact that I was interested in a more fictionalized version of it was helpful, on some level, because you can get into legal issues in telling someone’s life story."
On the absence of the diapers: "Given that it’s not a documentary, part of the work I did was trying to create a character journey that you could really relate to and stay with, even when she went to places you didn’t want her to go. That detail just didn’t fit into the story."
On the possibility of meeting Nowak or her watching the film: "I’m not sure how people survive the things they survive and come back from them afterward. So on a human level, I would be interested to know what the journey was for her. But I respect her privacy. She has had so much unwanted attention that that’s not a conversation I’m asking her for."