Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

As if leading the Mission: Impossible franchise and continuing to be a Hollywood superstar wasn’t enough for Tom Cruise, the actor is gearing up to leave an especially unique mark on the filmmaking industry. Earlier this year, it was announced that Cruise is teaming up with Elon Musk’s Space X and NASA for a movie that will actually be shot in outer space. However, Cruise and his collaborators will need to hurry if they want to be the first to deliver such a project to the public, as apparently Russia is getting in on this space race.

According to Sky News, Russian’s Channel One TV channel is partnering with space agency Roscosmos to find an actress to lead a movie, tentatively titled Challenge, that will shoot in outer space. The plan is for Challenge to begin rolling cameras at the International Space Station in October 2021. What’s interesting is that it was previously announced that Tom Cruise and his filmmaking team are also heading to the ISS next October. So unless one of these productions blinks, they’ll have to contend with filming their separate stories in the same space (no pun intended) at the same time.

As far as the kind of actress Challenge is looking for, the casting announcement describes the role as a “real superhero,” and that one needn’t be a professional performer to apply; they must only want to “go to the stars… at the same time as becoming a big international star.” That said, there are some qualifications in place. Applicants must be between 25-40 years old, stand between 150-180 centimeters tall, weigh between 50-70 kilograms and have a “chest girth” of up to 112 centimeters.

Furthermore, applying women must also not have a criminal record and need to pass a series of athletic tests. On a more unusual note, the applicants must send in a screen test where they’re reading Russian poet Alexander Pushkin's famous letter from Tatyana to Eugene Onegin in the 1833 novel named after the latter character. Oh, and maybe it goes without saying, but this is only open to Russian citizens. A shortlist of 30 candidates will ultimately be put together, and from that group, two women will be chosen and trained as “cosmonaut researchers,” with one of them scoring the lead role and the other one working as the understudy/stunt double.

Challenge is also seeking a supporting male actor for the production, but that casting process won’t be the same as the one laid out above. Dmitri Rogozin, Roscosmos’ General Director, described Challenge as “a kind of space experiment” that will require the leading performers to be prepared for any situations that could “unexpectedly arise on board the station.” Filming in space will last 10 days, and rather than being a science fiction movie, Challenge is will be “a very realistic version of what may happen in the near future.”

As far as Tom Cruise’s space movie goes, no plot details have been revealed yet, but it will be written and directed by Doug Liman, who previously worked with Cruise on Edge of Tomorrow. We’ll just have to wait and see whether Cruise and Liman’s untitled movie for Universal or Challenge will be released to the public first. Either way, both the American and Russian productions will have to contend with a lot of difficulties during filming, including the International Space Station being an audio nightmare.

Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for all the latest in space-related movie news. Tom Cruise can next be seen in Mission: Impossible 7, which drops on November 19, 2021. Look through our 2021 release schedule to learn what other movies will arrive next year.

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