The 37-year-old actor portrays the late astronaut – who was the first man on the moon – in Damien Chazelle’s upcoming biopic and he embraced the chance to show some previously-unknown aspects of the lunar pioneer’s personality on screen.
He said: “I think the term still waters run deep is good for Neil, there’s so much there.
“It was an honour to try and get to reveal some of them, he was such a deep and admirable person, he had an incredible ability to see everything in larger context, he could see a giant leap in one small step and it was an honour to try and reveal some of the other colours to his personality that he very rightly was protective of.”
Though Ryan embraced his role in the movie, he admitted it was difficult playing a real person and knowing their families would see the finished film.
He told The Hollywood Reporter: “I think the most difficult part, correct me if I’m wrong, about the whole film is that Neil and Janet’s sons were going to see it, there’s no way to know how people were behind closed doors.”
Co-star Olivia Hamilton, who portrays Pat White, the wife of astronaut Ed White, agreed.
She said: “Playing a real person whose family is going to see the movie, it felt like it just raised the stakes tremendously and especially, I won’t give anything away, as a character that experiences the dramatic impact of the mission, I just felt a strong duty to do the woman justice.”
The director was keen to take a “well-documented event” in history and bring a fresh take on the events.
He said: “We tell the story through the perspective of Neil Armstrong and his wife, Janet, and their family and just try to demythologise that moment in history, show what it really took and how hard it really was…
“What we felt was the one thing we could add to the equation, that wouldn’t just be duplicating stuff that we’ve already seen, would be to really tell the untold story, moments that I hadn’t really known anything about,” he added.
Neil’s time that he spent alone at the Little West Crater and what may have happened there, what may have crossed his mind, what the moon might have looked like literally though his eyes.
“I think those were these very private, emotional or psychological moments that I think Ryan and I and all of us wanted to try to dig into and become our guideline on how to do it.”