Hidden Figures trailer

John Glenn might get most of the glory for being the first American to orbit Earth, but behind him were dozens of brilliant scientists, mathematicians, and engineers, and more working to make his journey happen. The new movie Hidden Figures tells the story of three of them.

Taraji P. Henson leads the cast as NASA mathematician  Katherine Johnson, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 for her pioneering work. Octavia Spencer plays fellow NASA mathematician Dorothy Vaughn, and Janelle Monáe rounds out the central trio as NASA engineer Mary Jackson.

Also starring are Kevin CostnerKirsten DunstJim ParsonsAldis HodgeMahershala Ali, and Glen Powell as John Glenn. Watch the first Hidden Figures trailer below. 

Biopics about scientists are not terribly uncommon — heck, it was just a couple of years ago that The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything were being pitted against each other — but it is pretty unusual to see one about African-American women who aren’t exactly household names. Hidden Figures seems to tackle head-on the institutional racism and sexism that kept these women back, without detracting from their groundbreaking work or their rich personal lives.

Besides that, this just looks fun, at least if you’re the kind of nerd who loves movies about science. The friendship between the three leads adds a lot of warmth and humor to what could’ve just been a plodding, heavy-handed film. It also helps make Hidden Figures look inspiring without being cloying, which so many biopics seem to struggle with.

Directed by Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent), Hidden Figures arrives January 13.

HIDDEN FIGURES is the incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)—brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.

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