Director James Gray is planning a trip to the stars, and is rounding up an all-star cast to take with him.
Donald Sutherland is the latest A-lister to join Ad Astra, Gray’s upcoming space drama starring Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones and Ruth Negga.
Gray is joining the ranks of acclaimed filmmakers who have ventured into space, like Stanley Kubrick, Andrei Tarkovski, Ridley Scott, Christopher Nolan and Alfonso Cuaron.
The director, who has also co-wrote the script, comes from an independent background with underachieving films like We Own The Night, Two Lovers and The Immigrant – all three starring Joaquin Phoenix.
Most recently, he directed Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattinson in The Lost City Of Z, based on the true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett and his obsessive quest in the Amazon forest.
The film was shot on a tight budget of $30m, with Gray famously ranting against producer Harvey Weinstein for “screwing me again”.
“I have no relationship with Harvey,” Gray said, after having worked with the producer in a previous film.
“So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship. He screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice!”
Unlike his previous film The Immigrant – which was slammed by UK reviewers to the point of Gray saying that “maybe it’s just something cultural” – The Lost City Of Z received mostly positive reviews, and was backed by Pitt’s production company Plan B.
With Ad Astra, Pitt is returning as executive producer and also taking the main lead, playing a space engineer travelling through the solar system in search of his lost father.
The film’s title is Latin for “to the stars”, and will reportedly have a Heart Of Darkness vibe which was also present in Gray’s Amazonian quest.
Tommy Lee Jones has been confirmed to play Pitt’s lost father, while Irish actress Ruth Negga and Sutherland have accepted undisclosed roles.
The move marks Gray’s first step towards a blockbuster, and could be the director’s first shot at covering costs, with Z having scored only half of its budget and The Immigrant scoring nearly a third.