On Christmas Day, Taraji P. Henson leaves Cookie behind when she stars in “Hidden Figures.” It tells the true story of the women behind the U.S. space program. Deco’s own spaceman Chris Van Vliet sat down with the cast of the movie.
“Hidden Figures” was nominated for two Golden Globes Monday, and for good reason. I spent the day at the Kennedy Space Center talking with the cast about this incredible story.
Taraji P. Henson (as Katherine Johnson): “We’re just on our way to work at NASA, sir.”
Ron Clinton Smith (as officer): “I had no idea they hired…”
Octavia Spencer (as Dorothy Vaughan): There’s quite a few women working in the space program.”
In the 1960s, the space race was on! “Hidden Figures” tells the incredible true story of the brilliant African-American women at NASA who helped launch astronaut John Glenn into orbit. But up until now, it was an untold story.
Taraji P. Henson: “Imagine if I knew about these women. I could have been a rocket scientist. No, I couldn’t. I’m not mathematically wired.”
Taraji P. Henson plays Katherine Johnson, an absolute math whiz. In fact, her job title was human computer.
Taraji P. Henson: “Yes, they let women do some things at NASA, Mr. Johnson. And it’s not because we wear skirts. It’s because we wear glasses.”
Taraji stars in the movie with Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe.
Janelle Monáe: “These women were directly responsible for getting our first Americans into space. This was the segregation era. Lots of obstacles, but they didn’t let them deter them.”
For Taraji P. Henson, this character couldn’t be any further from Cookie, who you see on “Empire” every week.
Taraji P. Henson (as Cookie): “You in my world now, so sit back and enjoy the ride.”
Chris Van Vliet: “Do you have to shed any bit of that character when you step on the set?”
Taraji P. Henson: “That was the problem I had. I didn’t have time to digress. Cookie’s a lot. That’s a lot of energy, all the time. And I never really had that time to make that transition.”
Spoiler alert: John Glenn successfully orbits earth, and African-American women continued to be given more prominent roles at NASA.
Chris Van Vliet: “The world that this movie is set in is so different from the world we’re in right now, but it was only 50 years ago, which is crazy to think about. Where are we going to be in 50 years?”
Octavia Spencer: “What I hope we will be is on one accord, and seeing each other as human beings; not as men, not as women, but who we are to each other.”
Now, John Glenn passed away at the age of 95 last week, and the movie touches on the fact that he famously said that he wouldn’t go into space without Katherine Johnson’s calculations.
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