Oakham movie star Ben Owen over the Moon about his new Hollywood blockbuster
The sky’s the limit for actor Ben Owen after he’s made his rocket-powered breakthrough in new blockbuster movie First Man - and he’s from Oakham!
Thrilled Ben plays John Hodge, the NASA Flight Director in charge of Mission Control during the Gemini 8 venture, in the highly-acclaimed new $70 million film about Neil Armstrong.
The legendary American astronaut was the first man to walk on the Moon in the iconic Apollo 11 mission in July 1969.
Ben lines up in a stellar cast on the silver screen alongside the likes of Ryan Gosling, Zero Dark Thirty star Jason Clarke, Wolf Hall actress Claire Foy and Kyle Chandler.
The dashing 37-year-old is now hoping his Hollywood career will take off after he was picked out specially by top Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle to star in First Man.
“I just hope First Man will act as a huge launchpad and shoot me straight into outer space!
“I’m still pinching myself that I’m appearing in a movie along so many huge stars,” said the former football coach.
“I still can’t believe my luck - I’m just an ordinary Rutland lad.
“It was amazing to be chosen to star in First Man and shoot it.
“I’ve got to know the Armstrong family and they’ve given me a totally new perspective on what these astronauts did - they were incredible.”
Ben attended Oakham’s Ferrers Primary School and Vale of Catmose College before doing a football scholarship in Florida.
He then went to South Korea to teach English.
“I met an American teacher there called Andrea, fell in love and we’ve been married eight years now.
“She’s a Georgia girl and so I moved to Atlanta and started doing stand-up comedy,” said Ben, an Everton fan.
“I made an indie film as well as commercials and audio books as Andrea went to law school.
“I got an agent, sent tapes in for First Man and Damien the director emailed me himself to tell me I’d got the part as John Hodge.
“I was stunned.
“We shot the movie near where I live in Atlanta so that was very handy.
“We started filming in September last year and finished in March.”
To cap it all Ben went to see a private screening of First Man at Neil Armstrong’s son Mark’s home in Cincinnati, Ohio - and took his ecstatic parents Jean, 69, and Rob, 69.
“They were with me in Atlanta - and Mark said they could come as well.
“So we had a brilliant eight-hour road trip up there and loved it,” said Ben.
His ecstatic mum Jean said: “It was very emotional - we were so proud to see Ben in the film.”