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Space Cowboys (2000) Poster

(2000)

Trivia

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NASA offered their "vomit comet" plane that can create weightlessness, for filming (it was previously used in Apollo 13 (1995) for the weightless scenes). Clint Eastwood turned down the offer for fear that the older actors would be made too sick to film.
The "Asshole Centering Module" is a closed-circuit video system used during ground-based Shuttle astronaut training. It displays a view of the astronaut's posterior so they can remember the position they are in when using the Waste Collection System.
The Bell X-2 was the first airplane to reach an altitude of 100,000 feet and to exceed Mach 3.
In the film, the four astronauts appear together on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (1992). To promote the film, they all appeared together on the same show.
NASA jargon during the STS-200 ascent:

"Negative Return" means that the Shuttle is beyond the point of being able to return to to the Kennedy Space Center and the Shuttle Landing Facility.

"Two Engines TAL" means that the Orbiter can reach the primary emergency Trans-Atlantic Landing (TAL) site in Merona, Spain even if one of its three Main Engines fails.

"Press to ATO" means that if one engine fails, the crew will make every effort to Abort-To-Orbit instead of landing at the secondary emergency landing site in Zaragoza, Spain. After ATO, it may still be possible to perform the mission as planned if the orbit is close enough to nominal.
According to film editor Joel Cox, Clint Eastwood, a notoriously quick director, would routinely film as many as 35 to 40 set-ups in a single day.
Clint Eastwood, James Garner, Tommy Lee Jones, and Donald Sutherland are all playing characters in the same age demographic. In actuality, only Eastwood and Garner are close in age, while Sutherland and especially Jones are too young to have been astronaut pilots in 1958 as mentioned in the script.
Clint Eastwood wrote the theme that plays at the beginning of the movie and it was worked into the score by Lennie Niehaus.
Tommy Lee Jones is seen wearing a "Cowboy Bar" shirt which is from the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in Jackson, Wyoming. This was a favorite bar for Clint Eastwood and where he shot one of his last scenes in Any Which Way You Can (1980).
Originally Sean Connery was supposed to play Jerry O'Neil and Jack Nicholson was supposed to play Tank Sullivan.
Clint Eastwood was initially just going to star in and produce the film, not direct it. After potential directors thought filming space travel would be too difficult, he decided to do it himself.
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Real astronauts who saw an early screening of the movie were impressed by how realistic space looked.
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The modeling department put a Space Mr. Coffee in the cargo bay of the shuttle. This was the idea of chief model-maker Adam Savage, now co-host of MythBusters (2003) on the Discovery Channel.
Film debut of Jon Hamm.
At the beginning of the film, the young pilots and officers dialogues are voiced-over by the actors playing their older counterparts.
Clint Eastwood guest-starred in an episode of Maverick (1957) with James Garner.
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Clint Eastwood pilots helicopters, but he's never had a desire to go into space. "To me, that's claustrophobic as hell."
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Clint Eastwood nicknamed the movie "Geezer Power."
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Filming was hard on the actors: James Garner dislocated his shoulder, and Donald Sutherland cracked a knee.
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To create "weightlessness," the actors clung onto objects as if they were grounding themselves. Clint Eastwood opted against using the "Vomit Comet," the plane used to film weightlessness in Apollo 13 (1995).
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Writer Howard Klausner had actually finished the screenplay and was shopping it around Hollywood long before it was announced that astronaut John Glenn would be returning to space.
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Clint Eastwood would film the actors improvising a scene, then use that footage in the movie. "Donald would say, 'Are we rehearsing now; what are we doing?' and I'd say, 'No that's it.'"
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The night scenes where Tommy Lee Jones and Marcia Gay Harden are alone together was filmed in the University of Houston - Downtown campus satellite parking lot; permission from the university was needed to film the night scenes. Clint Eastwood met with UHD president Dr. Maximillian Castillo in person in late 1998 before filming began.
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NASA trainer Yvonne Cagle helped teach the actors how to use all the training equipment. She recalled, "I learned a thing or two from them. They came prepared."
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Clint Eastwood's team initially thought they'd need 40 special effects shots - they ended up with about 300.
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The scenes out in space are entirely computer graphics; the actors' faces were added in digitally.
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Global Effects, Inc. designed ten space suits for the movie, using the same woven Teflon as real suits. They've also created space suits for Armageddon (1998), Deep Impact (1998) and the MTV Moonman.
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With the exception of his cameo as Silvana Mangano's husband in the obscure Italian film The Witches (1967), this is the only time Clint Eastwood has played a formally married man. His characters are usually single and meet their potential love interest (if any) during the course of the movie. On other occasions he has played divorcées (Tightrope (1984), Heartbreak Ridge (1986), The Rookie (1990)), widowers (Dirty Harry (1971), The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), Gran Torino (2008), Trouble with the Curve (2012)) or men who are separated from their wives (True Crime (1999)) but never actually married.
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The film opened the Venice Film Festival in 2000.
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Chosen by "Les Cahiers du cinéma" (France) as one of the 10 best pictures of 2000 (#09)
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The term "Space Shuttle" refers to the whole "stack" of Orbiter + external tank + solid rocket boosters.
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The Halfway House Cafe was also a seen in another film starring Clint Eastwood, (1986) Heartbreak Ridge.
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The film reunites Clint Eastwood with Donald Sutherland, who starred alongside Eastwood in Kelly's Heroes (1970), and James Garner, who played Bret Maverick in the 1950's TV series Maverick, with Eastwood appearing in one episode, 'Duel at Sundown' (broadcast 1/2/59).
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The interview with Jay Leno was filmed in front of a real Tonight Show audience. Leno made monologue jokes about Viagra, Matlock (1986), and prostate problems. Leno ad-libbed with the actors like he would in a real interview.
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Warren Beatty was considered for the role of Frank Corvin.
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James Garner's character is named "Tank" Sullivan. Sixteen years earlier, Tank (1984) which also featured James Cromwell (who plays Bob Gerson here) in one of his earliest movie roles.
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The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, and Marcia Gay Harden; and two Oscar nominees: James Garner and James Cromwell.
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Clint Eastwood used actual footage of the space shuttle landing for the movie's landing shots.
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Hawk's shirt is from a Wyoming bar where Clint Eastwood shot scenes for Any Which Way You Can (1980).
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A 1/22 scale miniature model of Ikon was used for the space scenes, shot in front of a black tarp.
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The Mission Control set was built using blueprints of the real Mission Control, provided by NASA.
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In the real space shuttle, four sit up front and two in the back, but Eastwood wanted everyone together.
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Cast members James Garner and Tommy Lee Jones have portrayed the role of Woodrow Call. Jones first played the role in Lonesome Dove (1989) and Garner took over the role in the follow-up Streets of Laredo (1995).
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The name is pronounced with a hard 'i'; sounding like "eekon", not "eye-kon". Also, an "ikon" is a feminine noun. Thus, it would be "ikona", pronounced sounding like "eekona".
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Alun Armstrong was offered the role of Russian Genrael Vostov.
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The simulator is the same that real astronauts use to train for their missions.
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In earlier scenes, the voices of Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner, Donald Sutherland, and Clint Eastwood are dubbed over the younger actors' real voices.
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Actor Loren Dean also appeared in "Apollo 13" (1995). In both films, he works for NASA and is an instrumental member of the mission.
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The actor who plays young Jerry, 'John Asher', is first seen in the movie perusing a Playboy Magazine. At the time Asher was married to the real life 1994 Playmate of the Year, 'Jenny McCarthy'.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

As it approaches the Kennedy Space Center, the Daedalus Orbiter makes a double sonic boom. This is because the Orbiter creates two shock waves, the bow wave and the tail wave, which are heard as separate "booms."
The original script called for the IKON orbital weapons platform to be a top-secret NASA project. NASA refused to co-operate with the film's production, unless the script was changed to depict NASA as having no involvement in placing weapons in orbit.
Tommy Lee Jones' character is introduced feet-first, as the camera moves around the corner of the building, and he is seen seated in a reclining position. The movie ends with a nearly identical arrangement, where the camera pans around the corner of the wreckage on the Moon, and he is once again seen with his feet first then body reclining in death on the ground face up positioned towards the Earth.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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