Preacher and Loving actor Ruth Negga is the latest big name added to the cast of Ad Astra, the epic science fiction movie James Gray is directing for New Regency. Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones are already on-board the film about an Army Corps engineer looking across the solar system for his father, who disappeared during a mission to seek out alien life 20 years before.
Director James Gray once described Ad Astra as being like Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (the book that inspired Apocalypse Now), but in outer space. Gray has said he wants Ad Astra to be the most realistic depiction ever of space travel and how hostile the conditions of outer space are to human beings. Before lining up their foray into the harshness of outer space, Gray and Brad Pitt tried to hook up for the jungle adventure movie The Lost City of Z but Pitt was forced to drop out of the cast, and Gray pressed forward with Charlie Hunnam in the lead role (though Pitt stayed on as producer).
THR reports that Ruth Negga has signed up to accompany Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones into the darkness of James Gray's science fiction vision. Negga's role has not been revealed, so it's entirely possible that she will not actually be traveling into outer space herself, but will be stuck back on Earth the whole movie. The film is expected to begin rolling this summer, with no release date yet announced.
Ad Astra marks Ruth Negga's second time working with Brad Pitt, as she also appeared in his 2013 zombie film World War Z. Negga was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as real-life civil rights pioneer Mildred Loving in the 2016 film Loving. She currently stars as the tail-kicking Tulip alongside Dominic Cooper and Joseph Gilgun in AMC's outrageous comic book adaptation Preacher.
Among the very few details revealed so far about Ad Astra is the intriguing revelation that Brad Pitt's engineer character Roy McBride will be "slightly autistic." The action of the movie takes McBride to the planet Neptune in search of his missing father, who is described as a "renegade scientist" who could pose a threat to humanity. Gray wrote the script along with frequent collaborator Ethan Gross.
The news of Ruth Negga's addition to the Ad Astra cast adds another level of intrigue to what already sounds like an interesting project for James Gray and Brad Pitt. Here's hoping the story doesn't squander Negga's talents by stranding her on Earth while her male co-stars get to go into outer space. If Preacher has shown us anything, it's that Negga is at her best when she's in the thick of the action, not relegated to a sideline role.