Writer-director James Gray is clearly ready to branch out, having spent over a decade making a name for himself with smaller, fascinating Joaquin Phoenix movies (The Yards, We Own The Night, Two Lovers, The Immigrant). Now, having recently released period biopic Lost City Of Z, the filmmaker is preparing to take Brad Pitt into outer space, with science fiction film Ad Astra.
Story details are predictably vague, but it would seem that the film will centre on a man who strikes out across the solar system to find his father – who vanished on a mission to Neptune 20 years earlier. Gray confirmed the project while in conversation with Collider, promoting Lost City Of Z. That film was, at one point, set to star Brad Pitt. As the project came together, Pitt’s participation was ultimately reduced to that of executive producer, but it seems that the two creatives have their sights set on a collaboration that will see Gray direct a Pitt performance.
“I’m terrified by it. The science-fiction genre is so tricky because there are elements of fantasy usually involved, and there are also fantastical elements. What I’m trying to do is the most realistic depiction of space travel that’s been put in a movie and to basically say, ‘Space is awfully hostile to us.’ It’s kind of a Heart of Darkness story about traveling to the outer edge of our solar system. I have a lot of hopes for it but it is certainly ambitious… It starts shooting July 17th, so not too far away. I’m filled with terror, but that’s fine (laughs).”
As James Gray says, it is certainly ambitious – not least to set a goal of creating “the most realistic depiction of space travel that’s been put in a movie.” Many have tried – including Ron Howard, Christopher Nolan, and Alfonso Cuaron – so one wonders what James Gray plans on doing so differently. One thing is for sure, though, and that is the excitement surrounding the involvement of Brad Pitt in an onscreen capacity.
The lead in Ad Astra will be Brad Pitt’s first science fiction role since 1995’s Twelve Monkeys. The actor has concerned himself with dramas, comedies, horrors, and action movies in the intervening two decades, so it will make for an interesting change of pace for audiences and fans of sci-fi alike. All eyes will be on this production as it swings into action over the summer, and we will hopefully see the result some time in 2018.