Five Favorite Films

Buzz Aldrin's Five Favorite Films

The celebrated astronaut talks about his personal connection to a Gary Cooper film and -- unsurprisingly -- his love for a certain Stanley Kubrick classic.

by | June 22, 2018 | Comments

(Photo by Mike Marsland/Getty Images)

Every so often, we here at RT are blessed with the opportunity to talk to true icons, and sometimes, those icons come not in the form of an actor or filmmaker, but of a legend oustide the industry altogether. With that in mind, Buzz Aldrin has certainly appeared in a handful of films and TV programs, but he’s of course best known as the US Air Force pilot and NASA astronaut who became the second man in history to step foot on the moon, the 50th anniversary of which is next year.

These days, Aldrin spends most of his time advocating for an international coalition to enact a plan to travel to Mars and set up a permanent homestead there. This week, however, he spoke to us in support of a small documentary about an influential ancient astronomer without whose contribution his own trip to the moon might never have happened. It’s called The Man Who Unlocked the Universe, and it centers on 15th century Timurid ruler, mathematician, and astronomer Ulugh Beg, who counts Aldrin as one of his biggest fans. To celebrate the release of the film on Amazon Prime, Aldrin spoke to us about his own Five Favorite Films. Read on for the full list.


Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) 95%

I don’t know that these are chronological, particularly, and they may have occurred at different times in my life and had a meaning. But as I remember, I think there was quite an impact from someone who was able to move in his life to a very significant opportunity, and I was thinking of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, with Jimmy Stewart. That was, to me, rather inspiring, that someone with maybe a newspaper background or whatever, given that task, went into the Puzzle Palace — we would call it today “the swamp” — to put some order into it. As he saw, things needed to be sort of straightened out. And I think that that is certainly a good bit proved in my profession.

The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955) 100%

This may be about the same time, sort of, in my life. It was The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell, General Billy Mitchell, for maybe disobeying the orders of just how he should approach sinking Navy ships. The reason that that has a significance to me is that my father’s first assignment in the Air Corps was as an aide to Billy Mitchell in the Philippines, and that’s where he met my mother, my father met my mother. It’s told to me by the family that not only did Jimmy Doolittle bounce me on his knee, but Billy Mitchell did too.

War and Remembrance: Season 1 (1988)

Now, let’s go to War and Remembrance. As a teenager, I grew up during World War II, and it just had such an impression on me then, and it does now, to reflect back. I think Herman Wouk just captured so much of the spread around the world of the different conflicts that were involved, and quite recently, the unquestionable impact that Winston Churchill had on the outcome of that war.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) 93%

I know these are things that go back in time, but now coming up to date, we got 2001: A Space Odyssey. Now, the projecting forward of Arthur C. Clarke was just such a marvel of imagination, but not just guessing. I mean, he predicted that communication satellites would rotate at the same rate that the earth rotates. They’re in orbit traveling, so they sort of remain stationary over the equator. Now, that was a brilliant observation, and I think so many of these people — Isaac Asimov and H.G. Wells, all of these science fiction writers. In a way, it prompted me to think about creating imaginary situations in the past, in the present, and off into the future, being as true to reality as possible.

It also predicted things that we would call today… It’s a cable that goes all the way up and out to geosynchronous. And that has fascinated a lot of people, and I’ve appreciated some engineering observations that I think were quite impractical, but Arthur Clarke projected building a tower all the way out there. 22,000 miles. Now, that’s pretty stretching. But I feel very satisfied since Arthur Clarke wrote an epilogue to the book that Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins and I wrote with other people, First on The Moon, and Arthur Clarke wrote the epilogue to that. And because of his contributions and my appreciation of those and having met him on several occasions, I just was compelled to arrange a cruise so that I would get to spend a day with Arthur Clarke in 2001.

Churchill (2017) 49%

The movie Churchill! Well of course, yeah! I mean, I had hearing aids on but I couldn’t catch exactly all the words, but I knew the meaning behind them. It was just marvelous how, I guess, a politician could absorb so much of the strategy required to deal with the challenges that Great Britain faced. The guy who played Churchill, when I saw him in real life, I can’t imagine how they made him up to look like Winnie. He was bouncing all over the place, making facial expressions all the time.

[Editor’s note: Aldrin confirmed he was indeed talking about the film Churchill, and not Darkest Hour, which he hadn’t seen.]


The Man Who Unlocked the Universe is currently available exclusively on Amazon Prime.

Tag Cloud

Mindy Kaling Opinion 24 frames crossover Comedy what to watch psycho cars Food Network based on movie Paramount Network Nat Geo New York Comic Con video slashers Superheroes Hallmark Christmas movies finale romantic comedy Sci-Fi canceled Hulu Winners MCU Spectrum Originals YouTube kids dramedy Interview Showtime RT21 Watching Series ghosts Paramount TLC supernatural Trivia WGN cancelled TV series 007 VH1 Winter TV psychological thriller dragons binge animated National Geographic singing competition DC Universe versus spy thriller BET 2019 45 cancelled television Thanksgiving streaming YA Schedule Holiday Oscars Fox News Country Nickelodeon Election San Diego Comic-Con social media canceled TV shows cancelled Extras Starz Grammys Marvel Television richard e. Grant YouTube Premium biography latino Rocketman Fall TV 2020 book Crunchyroll The CW Summer DirecTV revenge Holidays DGA Pixar Martial Arts Columbia Pictures science fiction series joker hispanic Writers Guild of America foreign Ghostbusters anime Esquire NBC Awards Tour Drama Countdown Emmys CMT Star Trek ESPN rotten movies we love Bravo Crackle Horror Mary poppins discovery Sony Pictures Mary Poppins Returns AMC Music golden globes HBO Max Awards mockumentary Podcast toy story GLAAD Britbox DC streaming service strong female leads LGBTQ Epix VICE Comic Book cooking natural history MSNBC Comics on TV Cannes political drama PBS Chernobyl Year in Review 2015 American Society of Cinematographers Valentine's Day Vudu YouTube Red Netflix Christmas movies Apple Premiere Dates true crime Calendar Mystery children's TV Infographic historical drama witnail werewolf Best and Worst festivals south america First Look mutant stand-up comedy FX cults space unscripted crime drama technology game of thrones ABC Family See It Skip It Marvel Mary Tyler Moore Tumblr OWN The Witch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Adult Swim 21st Century Fox TV renewals SXSW zombie Amazon travel cats The Walking Dead independent Film Teen Super Bowl E! 71st Emmy Awards Musical IFC Films medical drama Captain marvel Disney streaming service SDCC cinemax Acorn TV Polls and Games green book Amazon Prime Video dceu Shondaland Netflix television Tomatazos Star Wars justice league TCM facebook Elton John anthology Anna Paquin nature Pop Disney spain Heroines WarnerMedia disaster blockbuster TV E3 Quiz Syfy comic Reality Competition MTV screenings christmas movies Trophy Talk breaking bad aliens Trailer RT History 2018 Character Guide SundanceTV Disney Channel game show TCA 2017 Western Spring TV Emmy Nominations doctor who Pride Month Red Carpet politics USA Network composers Fantasy Christmas batman Marathons Musicals CNN renewed TV shows sitcom jamie lee curtis Amazon Prime comiccon Ellie Kemper boxoffice hist Binge Guide GoT CW Seed TruTV Classic Film Logo GIFs BBC America sequel award winner halloween Superheroe TCA LGBT Cosplay indie Lionsgate Turner Lifetime zero dark thirty miniseries PaleyFest APB Box Office Cartoon Network Reality Masterpiece Arrowverse TV Land ratings tv talk Biopics theme song 2017 Nominations adventure Set visit Women's History Month Sundance Now adaptation harry potter quibi war spanish language thriller Marvel Studios crime blaxploitation HBO Stephen King vampires Sneak Peek crime thriller Hallmark romance Pirates Universal President Ovation Certified Fresh Apple TV Plus dc BBC Kids & Family spinoff casting Creative Arts Emmys Family TBS TIFF DC Comics CBS All Access comics free movies Song of Ice and Fire Apple TV+ Spike 2016 robots Walt Disney Pictures A24 Disney Plus period drama FOX 20th Century Fox elevated horror TNT serial killer Mudbound ABC Shudder diversity Rom-Com zombies Television Academy sports CBS Film Festival First Reviews Animation spider-man Comedy Central X-Men talk show Action Peacock Pet Sematary transformers A&E Freeform teaser Turner Classic Movies The Arrangement cartoon Rocky cancelled TV shows cops USA FXX The Purge Photos El Rey Video Games Tarantino IFC Warner Bros. Brie Larson Lifetime Christmas movies Black Mirror Toys docudrama ITV movies Rock Dark Horse Comics Disney+ Disney Plus police drama Chilling Adventures of Sabrina NYCC Sundance Lucasfilm History