FILM 1646: HIDDEN FIGURES
TRIVIA: While John Glenn did specifically request that Katherine Johnson review all of the numbers for the Friendship 7 mission before he would agree to go through with it, he did so weeks before the mission actually took place, not when the countdown to launch was nearing at Cape Canaveral.
When Taraji P. Henson signed on for the lead role, she met with the real-life Katherine Johnson, who was 98 years old, to discuss the character she was about to portray. Henson learned that Johnson had graduated from high school at age 14 and from college at age 18, and was still as lucid as anyone years younger. After the film was screened for Johnson, she expressed her genuine approval of Henson's portrayal, but wondered why anybody would want to make a film about her life.
The issue with the bathrooms was not something Katherine Johnson personally experienced. It was actually encountered by Mary Jackson instead. In fact, it was this incident, as a result of Jackson ranting to a colleague, which got her moved to the wind tunnel team. Johnson was initially unaware that the East Side bathrooms were even segregated, and used the unlabeled "whites-only" bathrooms for years before anyone complained. When she simply ignored the complaint, the issue was dropped completely.
One of the ways that Katherine experiences workplace discrimination is when her coworkers require her to use a separate coffee pot. Whenever the office's coffee area is shown, the brand of coffee that they use, Chock Full o'Nuts, is also visible. The use of this brand in the context of segregation is historically relevant. In 1957, Chock Full o'Nuts was one of the first major New York corporations to hire a black executive as a corporate vice-president. The man they hired, retired baseball legend Jackie Robinson, had made history by being the first person to break the color barrier in professional baseball.
On the day that the scene was filmed in which Paul Stafford is speaking to the NASA engineers in the Space Task Group office about needing to develop the math for re-entry, there was an extra face in the crowd. Mark Armstrong, son of Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, had been invited by actor Ken Strunk to make a cameo appearance in the scene, and joined the other actors who were playing the NASA engineers.
Several of the control console props in the Mercury Mission Control set were originally built for the Mission Control Room set for Apollo 13 (1995). They were modified for use in the later films, including The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014) and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 (2015).
This marks the second time Taraji P. Henson and Mahershala Ali have played love interests. The first was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008).
Producer Pharrell Williams also oversaw all musical elements, and the soundtrack.