We know what you’re thinking: what does a movie about an astronaut love triangle have to do with adult nappies? And, more importantly, why is the internet freaking out about them?

To understand why it’s so important to the upcoming Lucy in the Sky movie, you have to know the true story behind Noah Hawley’s movie. Lucy in the Sky is “not a documentary” about the real-life astronaut Captain Lisa Marie Nowak, who was charged in 2007 with attempted kidnapping and eventually attempted murder.

The story which precipitated her charge and captured the attention of the nation at the time is the basis for Hawley’s movie. In real life, Nowak began an affair (she was separated at the time) with a coworker. After he ended it, she began a relationship with another NASA employee. After this, Things Got Out Of Control. (We won’t spoil it.)

20th Century Fox

For the movie, Nowak becomes Lucy Cola (played by Natalie Portman), her lover is Mark Goodwin (Jon Hamm) and his new lover is Erin Eccles (Zazie Beets). Cola’s husband Drew is played by Dan Stevens, and they are all part of NASA.

Okay. So, let’s get to the nappies.

In 2007, The New York Times reported: “Captain Nowak, 43, was wearing a trench coat and wig when she was arrested early Monday morning. She told the police she had worn diapers on the journey so that she would not have to stop to use the restroom so she could arrive in time to meet Captain Shipman’s flight at the airport.”

Zazie Beetz, Natalie Portman, Lucy in the Sky
20th Century Fox

However, Hawley’s interpretation of the story has edited out the diapers, despite retaining the urgency with which Cola is heading to confront Goodwin and Eccles.

Hawley defended his decision to omit the bizarre but dramatically interesting (and memorable) moment to the LA Times. He said: “Given that it’s not a documentary, part of the work I did was trying to create a character journey that you could really relate to and stay with, even when she went to places you didn’t want her to go. That detail just didn’t fit into the story.”

The irony of this decision hasn’t been lost on viewers. The moment is already one packed with absurdist humour and underlying tension. To not include the diapers struck some as arbitrary.

In some ways, this decision takes a bizarre story, one worth making a movie out of, and makes it less bizarre than it actually was. Whether this is the right decision or not remains to be seen.

It should be noted that Nowak’s lawyer later claimed the diaper admission was false. He said the “preposterous tale” was “an absolute fabrication” (via Associated Press). There never was a trial, so the veracity of the claim has never been cleared up. In the end, she plead guilty to felony burglary and misdemeanour battery and was sentenced to one year’s probation.

NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak
NASAGetty Images

According to People, Nowak now “lives in a modest home in Texas and works in the private sector. She does not give interviews, and has tried to put the past behind her. Despite the tough times in her past, her attorney told People last year that she’s in a better place.”

Lucy in the Sky is out in cinemas on December 6.

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