Star Brad Pitt and director James Gray are joining forces for a sci-fi movie titled Ad Astra and will begin production this summer. Venturing into outer space has proven to be a very positive career move for a lot of big-time male stars in recent years. George Clooney headed into earth orbit with Sandra Bullock for the blockbuster survival-action movie Gravity, Matthew McConaughey led a mission through a wormhole to find a new home for humanity in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, and Matt Damon played a Mars explorer stranded on the red planet in Ridley Scott's The Martian.
Not only were the aforementioned films all big hits, but each received critical acclaim and multiple Academy Award nominations. Perhaps it's no coincidence then that A-lister Pitt's next movie project will take the actor on his own foray into the outer reaches of the solar system.
In Ad Astra, Pitt will play an astronaut who takes off to the planet Neptune in search of clues about his father who disappeared during a similar mission 20 years before. There hasn't been a ton of talk about the film, but the movie's director James Gray spoke to Collider and confirmed that he and Pitt will in fact begin work on the project in July of 2017. Gray expressed some trepidation about tackling the difficult and very ambitious-sounding sci-fi subject matter of Ad Astra:
“Yes, yes, and yes. 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).”
Gray is really throwing down the gauntlet by claiming that with Ad Astra he is trying to make "the most realistic depiction of space travel that's ever been put in a movie." Now Gray has placed himself in direct competition not only with Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott and Alfonso Cuaron but also Stanley Kubrick, whose classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey set the bar for sci-fi realism (and intelligence) that everyone else has been trying to jump over ever since.
For Brad Pitt, this film represents a departure from the kind of subject matter he has tended to tackle. Pitt has done science-fiction with movies like Twelve Monkeys and World War Z, but never before has he tackled hard sci-fi of the type promised by James Gray in his description of Ad Astra. Journeying into outer space worked for Pitt's pals Clooney and Damon as well as Matthew McConaughey, so perhaps it can work for him as well.
Of course, as James Gray pointed out, science-fiction is a very tricky genre. Finding a balance between realism and the audience-pleasing fantasy elements of sci-fi can challenge even the most talented of directors. That's a challenge James Gray and Brad Pitt will tackle together beginning this summer.
Ad Astra does not have a release date yet. We will keep you updated on the latest information.