Neil Armstrong’s sons, Rick and Mark Armstrong spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about their father’s iconic first walk on the moon.
Rick and Mark Armstrong could not be more proud of their father, legendary NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong, on the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. During a recent New York celebration of the timeless first walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong’s sons shared their thoughts about Apollo 11’s legacy and space education in classrooms today.
Watch the interview video with Neil Armstrong’s sons above or read the full transcript below!
Interview with Rick Armstrong and Mark Armstrong
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: Mark, I read you sang Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” with an orchestra a couple of months ago.
Mark Armstrong: Yeah, with Fred Radke and the Harry James Orchestra![Smiles]
What was that like?
They’re incredible musicians. It’s just an honor to be on stage with them.
How does it feel to continue your father’s legacy? He means so much to so many people around the world as the first man to walk on the moon.
Rick Armstrong: Really I think it was more about the Apollo legacy rather than any individual. Apollo legacy inspired many people all over the world to go on and to follow their dreams. That’s really what I think.
How do you feel about space education these days? Do you feel it’s dropped off a little bit considering today’s youth seems to be more interested in their phones than going to space? Like they lost this sense of wonder at the beginning of the Apollo missions.
Rick Armstrong: I think the kids are interested. All kids are always interested. Unfortunately, the curriculum hasn’t always kept up with that. I know I looked at my daughter’s history book a few years ago. There was one paragraph about the entire space program. That was kind of shocking to me that there wasn’t a lot more attention paid to it.
It’s something that I think really needs to be addressed because the kids interest is there. No question about it.
Mark Armstrong: I would just add that space provides this sort of blank canvas for a lot of imagination. I think the younger you get kids thinking about that, the better. There’s a lot of reason to be optimistic. There are new plans to go back to the moon in 2024, and I’m really excited about that.
Did either of you ever want to be astronauts like your father?
Mark Armstrong: Absolutely! I was very interested in becoming an astronaut. It just wasn’t clear to me what that path was. While I was on that path, I fell in love with computer technology and I spent a lot of time in Silicon Valley.
Rick Armstrong: I would love to be weightless looking down at Earth. Absolutely! That would be great.
Be sure to watch our interview with Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Space History Department Curator and Artifacts Expert.
Watch the Apollo’s Moon Shot finale this Sunday on Smithsonian Channel at 8 p.m. ET. You can watch the episode live on Fubo TV. Sign up now for a free seven-day trial.
Fear the Walking Dead’s Jenna Elfman talked to The Natural Aristocrat about June and John Dorie’s passionate relationship and her on-screen chemistry with co-star Garret Dillahunt.
Acting Dedication: Elfman also discussed meeting a real life Head of Trauma in Austin, Texas to get fully immersed for the role of June.
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: How does it feel to be at the center of every Fear the Walking Dead ‘shipping conversation on Twitter? I mean, the fans absolutely love the June/John Dorie relationship. They’re in love with John pretty much, how does that make you feel?
Jenna Elfman: I get it, I’m in love with John Dorie too! (smiles) June loves him and cherishes him. Garret [Dillahunt] and I get along great. Ever since we first met, it’s just been effortless, acting together. I really enjoy it. It’s one of those things you luck out with sometimes with an acting partner, you know? I think we have that.
Is it more captivating for you as an actress to be more of an unreliable character where you don’t know if June might walk away from one script to the next?
I get excited, I just love the storytelling and I trust what they’re going to do. They write fun stuff for me. I love what they’re writing for me, and I’m really really committed to it and enjoying doing it. I love the trajectory they have happening. I dig it a lot. I’m always very excited for the next script.
Do you prepare any differently as an actress from when you first came on Fear the Walking Dead as Laura?
Well, when I read the script I’m always just looking for “Where are the moments of change?” in the script. In every scene, which character is changing and how and what is the impetus of that change? And I really make sure I understand the storytelling in that way. The overall theme and the message. What are the characters’ agreements and what are their problems? And so forth.
I think, maybe now that June’s point of view is very clear and she’s very committed to what they’re doing, I guess I’m approaching this season slightly different. Really because June kind of has a new constitution for herself. But it’s all the same kind of script analysis and character analysis.
Did you visit nurses and doctors for acting research and inspiration?
I met with the Head of Trauma in Austin (Texas) and I had him walk me through. Obviously, there’s triage and trauma nurses and trauma doctors, there’s a clock ticking on life or death. It’s a different sort of mentality of the things you’re looking for. I wanted to know what am I paying attention to? The heart rate, the breathing, the pupils, the skin color, all the things.
If I do this, what would happen? If I do that what’s important to her in that moment with that particular injury? What is she thinking about? I just had him walk me through the whole thing. It was interesting because before he was the Head of Trauma, he was a battlefield surgeon, and so a lot of the stuff he was walking me through was very similar to this scenario that the characters find themselves in. It was very helpful.
You had an amazing line in Fear the Walking Dead’s Season 5 Premiere where you were treating a patient, ‘Well, I’ve never done this in a truck stop before! Only at a trauma center.’ Do you ever get to riff on the lines at all or do you read straight from the script?
No, it’s not me. If I have questions [on the script] I’ll contact the writers, I’ll sent them an e-mail and ask for clarification or something. But no, I don’t change the lines or anything. Unless I ask them to clear it up ahead of time.
What does it mean to you as an actress to get a spot on this show?
It was very thrilling for me, I really wanted to start a new chapter in my career. Something new. I’d done drama before but I’d never done anything like this. They just offered me the role like eleven days after I kind of reconciled myself to what I wanted to do next. So, it was perfect timing and openly accepted by me!
Your character has changed names the most on Fear the Walking Dead! How does that feel, do you ever get confused yourself?
(laughs) No, but I think it just shows sort of an evolution about trying to find yourself, and needing to heal. once again. Luckily, the John Dorie effect… (smiles) You’re able to kind of heal and become yourself. I think this season, we see this beautiful June in full bloom. A new version of herself but connected to her truth.
Be sure to check out The Natural Aristocrat’s interviews with Fear the Walking Dead cast members Austin Amelio (Dwight) and Colman Domingo (Victor Strand) during New York City’s Split Screens Festival at the IFC Center.
P.J. Soles is back as Marcy Taylor in new retro-themed horror, Candy Corn, and spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about the film, her life as an actress and everything in-between.
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: There was a time in your life when you stepped away from acting. What brought you back to the horror film genre and ultimately playing Marcy Taylor in Candy Corn?
P.J. Soles: I was happy to do the fan conventions, which are wonderful, and spend time with my grandkids. I didn’t want to really work in movies anymore. I felt the conventions kept me connected to that part of my life. I was also busy doing other things, always toying with the idea of writing my autobiography… It’s just so hard to get going on a project about yourself! The first one to approach me for Candy Corn was actually Director Josh Hasty. He just made it sound so appealing and I liked him, we had a really nice conversation on the phone. But I laid it out! I said, “You know, I don’t work that great, I’m getting old, I might forget my lines!” It takes a lot of energy to pull it together. For me, making the moment real, being realistic on screen, and presenting a character that’s not you, not myself is important to me. But Josh convinced me!
What struck me first about Candy Corn was the beautiful cinematography. I always look at that, then I look at the characters and everybody was just painted amazingly. A great cast of characters! I liked the story and setting in the ’70s. I thought Director Josh Hasty was going for that retro look, which is appealing to me because it’s kind of familiar. [laughs] In terms of special effects, I thought they were beautifully done… If you can assign the word ‘beautiful’ to a ‘terrible’ special effect like someone’s spine getting ripped out. You can say they’re realistic! [laughs]
So, Candy Corn was the first ‘Yes!’ but I actually filmed it in December. I did Hanukkah first, then Killer Therapy, which is actually going to have a screening this October. There’s been no press about it, they’re keeping it on the down-low. In the horror community these days, they wanna keep things kind of quiet until the project has been fully edited, music added, and really pulled together.
When I was watching Candy Corn, there seemed to be a relationship in the air between Marcy and Sheriff Sam Bramford. Thus, I was anticipating some kind of interaction between Marcy and the Sheriff’s son, the lead antagonist as well. It felt like a natural fit. How do you feel about that?
Oh yeah, that would have been great! Well, it can’t happen in the sequel, if there is one. I live, he doesn’t! [laughs]
It’s nice to be in a horror movie and not get killed, right?
That’s actually my guiding principle now! I’m happy to play in any movie, I just don’t want to get killed. Not too many lines and no death scenes, that’s what I tell my agent! [laughs]
I recall an interview with VH1, where you mentioned wanting to ‘milk your death’ scene (as Lynda van der Klok) in Halloween for as long as possible to get screen time. Do you feel that’s what it takes as an actor to get time out there?
It’s your swan song. When you do that last scene on set, they say, “That’s a wrap on P.J. thank you,” and I don’t want that moment to come! (laughs) When I was going out of frame in Halloween, I suddenly realized I’m not going to be on screen anymore… So, I just kept doing the choked noises till John (Carpenter) yelled Cut!
Speaking of that era… You did a commercial for Pizza Hut Tacos back in 1979, how do you reflect back on that?
(laughs) Oh my God! You know what’s so funny about that? The shirt that I wear in that commercial is also the same pink-and-white stripped shirt that I wore in some of the promos we shot for Halloween. The promos were taken back at the casting offices by Kim Gottlieb and I had that very shirt on! Obviously, one of my favorite shirts. When I first saw that commercial I was like, “Oh my gosh, that’s the shirt in all the Halloween stills!”
I actually don’t eat beef and never have since I was a kid and heard beef comes from cows. Which made me sad. Every time I took a bite in the commercial I had to spit it out. There is a spit bucket for those of us who don’t eat what we’re advertising! (laughs)
That incident that happened on the set of Carrie, where you ruptured your ear drum… As an actress, did you have any regrets about doing the role at the time because of that? Obviously, it did lead you to getting a role in Halloween so things more than worked out. Do you have any permanent hearing loss from what happened on Carrie?
What? (laughs) Just kidding! It was so painful… It was unbelievably painful to rupture my ear drum which was caused by a fire hose that the fire marshal said is not a good idea to use. Especially, (Carrie Director) Brian [De Palma] wanted it to bat my head around back and forth. So, Dick Ziker, the stunt coordinator, said, “Oh man, that fire hose!” It was an accident for sure but it went full force and I literally just blacked out, went down and slid down the bleachers. The grips came running and picked me up. It was the most intense pain I’ve ever felt besides childbirth!
For six months, I went to the doctor and I got workman’s comp, they put drops in my ear. I can hear better than ever! I do have a little scar tissue there and I have go to my ENT from time to time but it didn’t leave any lasting problem. I’m definitely totally happy that I did the movie! Probably, would have rethought the firehose in retrospect. But it all worked out okay.
It’s a good effect and talking about the last time you see me on the screen now, that was actually my swan scene on the film. I didn’t come back to the set after that. When you see me wince in that scene, that’s actually the pain, the initial pain of the ear drum. So, it’s kind of strange but these things happen.
Are you surprised how things work out, that John Carpenter noticed you for the way you said “Totally” in Carrie? I was even half expecting you to say it in Candy Corn!
Yeah, we talked about it but that would have been too much! (laughs) People expect me to say, “Merry Christmas, Totally!” now! It’s become my trademark! I wear the red hat in Carrie, I say “Totally!” in Halloween, and I have that awesome wardrobe in Rock‘n’ Roll High School. #1 fan of The Ramones.
I told John [Carpenter] and Debra [Hill] that I was going to push it and try to say it every time I spoke, and if it gets annoying to let me know. But they never did. I’ve never made an accurate count actually. But a group of college boys told me at a convention that they have a drinking game where they take a shot every time I say “Totally” and they’ve never seen the end of the movie! I said, “I didn’t say it that many times!” (laughs) I think the real number is eleven someone told me but it seems like more than that.
Would you consider a role in a reboot of Rock ‘n’ Roll High School?
Reboot? When is that happening?! (laughs) I don’t know, depends who’s making it. Years ago, Howard Stern wanted to do it. But I think that was 30 years ago. (laughs) Maybe a sequel? What happened to all of us. Can you even find another band these days like The Ramones? I don’t think so! God, I wish! Don’t you wish? Where are the new Rolling Stones and The Eagles, where is this generation’s music? Come on guys! I’m waiting for it!
In the VH1 interview above, you mention not being a fan of The Ramones’ music until you met them. How come?
Well, no because I’d never heard them.
How did that happen?!
Well it was 1979, and I was listening to The Eagles, Jackson Browne, and Joni Mitchell all those people at the time. The Ramones weren’t on the radar yet in California. Maybe in New York which is probably why Allan Arkush, the Director, knew about them. But they were just starting, they were just coming aboard the scene, definitely well known in the CBGBs and all that in New York but not in Los Angeles. So, when Allan gave me a cassette and I put it in, I just really didn’t relate to it and I didn’t know what it was… But I said, “Alright, I’m their #1 fan!” (laughs)
It took me I would say, probably ten weeks to two years to really hear their music and understand what it was. Now, it’s just so commonplace and amazing! I really love The Ramones!
What happened at that Star Wars audition for Princess Leia with George Lucas?
We weren’t told what movies they were casting, we were just told there would be two directors at that time. This was back around in 1975. They weren’t really that known yet. I mean I think Brian De Palma had done a couple of movies but he wasn’t really an established director yet, at least not in the mainstream. Probably, again in New York City. So, I walked in, I had my red hat on! I had just moved to L.A. two weeks prior from Manhattan, where I had lived for five years and wanted to get into movies. I was living at the Magic Hotel in Hollywood, and my modeling agency sent me up on this audition.
Brian just looked at me and then looked at George and said I’ll put it on my list. Then he said, “Next audition bring your hat!” Then there were three subsequent auditions after that with the whole cast that actually ended up being in the movie. I don’t think he picked one person in all those three subsequent casting sessions and screen tests that didn’t end up in the movie. So, he had a very good eye I think for casting. A year later, we found out it was for Star Wars. But even then, it wasn’t what it was today. Star Wars took a while to catch on too at the time.
Was that the one role you wish you got?
No! Oh my gosh, I love my Norma! She wasn’t even in Stephen King’s book, there was no Norma in the Carrie book. But Brian De Palma had put the one line in, ‘Thanks a lot Carrie, ‘ when she blew the volleyball game in the beginning. I really was only on for a week. But after he saw the dailies for that… I had rainbow pins on my hat and I hit Sissy [Spacek] over the head with my hat.
The pins got stuck in her hair and I just yanked it out. So, it just looked so nasty! I apologized to Sissy but she said, “No, this is going to look great!” Brian laughed and thought it was so funny. He said she’s on for the rest of the shoot. I’m going to pair her up with Nancy Allen, the two of them are going to be my my little bad girls. [laughs] So, that was awesome!
You mentioned wanting to work on your autobiography earlier. What are some parts of your past that you’d like to be part of it?
I went overseas for all of my childhood. My father was from Holland and my mother was from Englewood, New Jersey and they met in Germany after the war. Her first husband was killed and she went over there to help with the rebuilding as a secretary. My dad was helping Jews escape Holland and he was captured and put in a Nazi work camp. He was released by the American army and brought to the same base as my mother and so they met.
It took a whole lot of circumstance for me to be brought into the world! I was born in Germany and then my dad got a job with a company where he had to open up branch offices for around the world. We moved to Morocco, Venezuela (Maracaibo) where I spent six years, and then Brussels in Belgium.
I went to a high school in the International School of Brussels and learned French and Spanish. I was really on a writing and language track rather than an acting thing. Although, I had always acted in a lot of the school productions but it wasn’t something I thought was even possible. I hadn’t watched a lot of movies growing up. I went to Briarcliffe College in New York state in the summer between my Freshman and Sophomore year, where I was going to transfer to Georgetown University in Washington.
My roommate was from the city and I stayed with her for the summer because my parents had transferred to Istanbul, Turkey. I happened to come across The Actors Studio and there was a sign, ‘We’ll trade running spotlight for auditing classes,’ so I ran a spotlight on Joanna Miles and Scott Glenn that whole summer. I met a guy who happened to be Joshua White of The Joshua Light Show.
He told me, “Girls, on the catwalk probably shouldn’t be wearing short dresses!” [laughs] He convinced me to quit college and get serious about acting, and start acting, so he got me an agent. I did commercials, I was on a soap opera and it got everything Rolling. But when I think of my autobiography, I’d start with my life as a child because I think that was enough of a life… Without anything else afterwards. But then on top of that there was this wonderful acting career!
Instagram’s champagne haired influencer Heidi Mae spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about the art of taking the perfect photo and why she’ll never do reality TV again.
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: Do you feel there’s a need to go the extra mile on Instagram these days because of competition rising exponentially all the time?
Heidi Mae: You know, that’s something I’ve thought about a lot… I don’t know if it’s going the extra mile, so much as it would be finding your own voice. I don’t want to create things just to get engagement, which is always sort of the trap. “Oh, I want to get more engagement, so I’ll post something that will get more engagement!” That can really make you suffer artistically. So, I’ve been focusing on creating stuff that I resonate with and trying to be more honest with people.
This year, I started opening up about some mental health issues that I’ve had, and advocating mental health awareness. I don’t need to have a million followers. But what I would like is to have is a positive impact on whoever sees what I create.Photo Credit: Heidi Mae
I feel your Adobe Lightroom “Vibrant Life” Presets give your photos an artistic, personal touch other Instagram influencers lack. Something beyond the usual filters everyone already uses. This desert photo comes to mind with the purple/pink hued sky and synthwave cover-esque sun. What made you experiment with Lightroom originally?
I love photography, I’m a big photography nerd! (laughs) I just love the way light plays on things. I’ve had a camera since I was like 18, way back in the MySpace days! When I take a picture, a lot of times, I want to reflect a feeling and create an emotion when people look at it. For me, a huge part of that is editing the tones, colors, and shadows to where each picture creates an emotion and has a feeling to it. You know, instead of just going straight from the camera.Photo Credit: Heidi Mae
The biggest difference for me is just the fact that I feel much happier, and I enjoy the pictures a lot more when I look at them. I feel proud of them and that they will reflect what I was trying to capture. I read this quote once that said, ‘A picture is how a camera sees the world and the edit on the photo is how the photographer sees the world.’ It resonated a lot with me.Photo Credit: Heidi Mae
When I edit a photo and change the colors and shadows or put something like the sun in it, that’s how I felt in that moment. That’s how I experienced that moment in time when I took the photo.
I’ve read you already started singing at the age of two! Longtime fans have obviously heard your voice on the cosplay parodies on YouTube. Did you want to be a vocalist in a band growing up?
(laughs) Yeah! When I was younger, I wanted to be a singer or an actress or a Russian Supermodel! Not even taking into account that I wasn’t Russian. (laughs) I grew up around music. My dad was a one man band and played every instrument.Photo Credit: Heidi Mae
My family had a traveling theatre show that we did at events and traveled around six to nine months out of the year, non-consecutively. So, it would be like six weeks at a time, eight weeks at a time. Always home for winter! The older I got, the more photography and travel became what I was passionate about making.
According to The Houston Herald, you and your siblings used to go to Texas County Library for the WiFi to upload those YouTube parodies. As the internet wasn’t strong enough countryside where you lived. Do you still have to do that?
(laughs) Not anymore! A couple years ago, the phone carriers here started offering unlimited data which they didn’t before. I mean they did at the very beginning and then they stopped. I switched carriers, so I could actually use the data at my house. When I used to upload a video or wanted to look something up, my cell phone reception and internet was so slow that it would take hours! I remember one time I wanted to upload one of the parodies, it took like a day and a half.Photo Credit: Heidi Mae
You mentioned wanting to be an actress earlier. Many of your Instagram fans remember you being featured on season 6 of ABC’s Wife Swap. How did that opportunity arise and would you do something like that again?
That opportunity arose because of my family’s theatre show,The Caboodlestoppers. I don’t… I don’t think that I would do reality TV again. The reason is because I learned the hard way that reality TV is a story that the producers want to tell. And they will ‘accomplish’ that story by whatever means necessary. You do not know going into it what story they want to tell, until you’re in the middle of it… You know what? I would not do reality TV again! (laughs)
I see fans commenting on it on your Instagram all the time still!
Yes, yes. (laughs) There are actually quite a few moments involving me on that show that are absolutely not true! They used some copy and paste audio in an episode to make it seem true. There’s actually a conversation I had where they chopped up what I said, and then just didn’t show me talking when I said it. So, you can’t tell that’s not what I said. I’d actually had a boyfriend before, my family had a home that was 74 acres but that didn’t fit the story they were trying to tell. ‘So, let’s just not say that!’ (laughs)Photo Credit: Heidi Mae
What are some of your style inspirations, fashion wise?
I follow Revolve because I really like a lot of their looks. It’s an online clothing company and they have designers there that create really unique things. A lot of my fashion actually evolves because of photography. A couple of years ago, maybe 4 years ago, all I ever wore was like black and gray. All the time! Then as I started doing photography more as my social media started taking off… I started noticing that the colors of black and gray don’t translate to the mood of an image very well.Photo Credit: Heidi Mae
If I’m on this beautiful expanse of land and I’m wearing all black, it doesn’t lend itself to the feeling I wanted to create in the photos. So, I started steering more towards lighter colors and more romantic looks. And I started noticing, “Oh, I really like this!” The clothing lends itself to the images much more to where everything felt complete in the picture versus say at opposition with each other.Photo Credit: Heidi Mae
How vital do you feel wigs are to your YouTube videos? Do you prefer to do your hair naturally if you can?
I definitely prefer to do my hair naturally. It’s so much more comfortable that way! (laughs) Especially, when I did some Harley Quinn looks for Suicide Squad, the wig was in pigtails and it was such a nightmare. Because you’re pulling the hair up but you’re glueing it to your scalp so it’s always like trying to peel away from your skin. It was horrible!
So, I definitely prefer to use my real hair with the exception if it’s like a crazy color. I definitely don’t want to dye my hair green, so I’ll use a wig for it! (laughs) So, any extreme colors or if I really feel like it will lend itself to the image well, I’ll use a wig.
I recall you mentioned the process of glueing that Harley Quinn wig on during a fan Q & A video. Speaking of that Q & A video, it’s been about two years now since it was posted… Are you ever going to do a followup?
(laughs) That’s a very good question! Yes, I’m going to! Filming more video blogs has been on my to-do list. I’m much more proficient at photography than I am at video. So, recently I’ve been pushing myself more to do more videos. Like the Instagram videos that I’ve been posting recently. It’s sort of like, “Okay, let’s get out of your comfort zone and push yourself a little bit!” Instead of just like sticking with what I’m comfortable with. Which can kind of be a human tendency at times.
What has the experience of your YouTube cosplay parodies going viral taught you?
I think what it taught me is if you set your mind to something and you try hard enough then you can make it happen. It might sound cliche but it’s true. Those parodies were the result of quite a few months of research, planning, and creating the costumes. I think the Suicide Squad one took about a year, including writing and recording.
It definitely taught me if I want something bad enough, and I work hard enough at it, I can find a way! Even if it’s not exactly what I originally set out to do. It can be a little different. I can still achieve that end goal!
My last question, going back to that fan Q & A… Two years later, do you still listen to the Backstreet Boys?
(laughs) Yeah! Funny you should ask that! I just went on like a three week road trip with my mom to California, and we found this 2000 through 2019 Pop Hits Playlist. Backstreet Boys are definitely on it, and there’s definitely singing along in the car!
Be sure to check out Heidi’s custom Adobe Lightroom “Vibrant Life” Presets to bring the magic to your own photos!
Check out more Fashion and Style coverage on The Natural Aristocrat!