During the production of “Ad Astra”, Brad Pitt goes through a very complicated period in his personal life. Trials from which the actor will draw to embody a son who ventures to the confines of space to find his father.
Ad Astra : the odyssey of James Gray
In 2011, while he was looking for funding for The Lost City of Z, James Gray begins writing the script forAd Astra. Eight years later, the sci-fi film hits theaters and sees the filmmaker direct Brad Pitt, after their missed date on the Percy Fawcett-centric feature. If he officiated as executive producer on the project, the actor had to give up the role of explorer due to scheduling constraints, giving way to the excellent Charlie Hunnam.
If they fit into different genres, The Lost City of Z and Ad Astra seem to answer each other. James Gray looks through these two works on the need to go to unknown destinations, while questioning the place of the father. In Ad Astra, the father is played by Tommy Lee Jones, who lends his features to astronaut Clifford McBride. Disappeared for sixteen years, the latter was in command of Project LIMA, whose goal was to search for an alien life form in a base near Neptune.
Following a destructive electrical overload from the planet, his son Roy (Brad Pitt) is tasked with finding him. Begin a long stellar journey for the NASA engineer, who will question his vision of humanity, the universe as well as his relationship with his father. Donald Sutherland, Ruth Negga and Liv Tyler complete the cast of this journey which combines the intimate and the immense.
Brad Pitt’s gaze
Of Little odessa To Ad Astra, Passing by The Yards Where The night belongs to us, the family unit is a central element of James Gray’s cinema. It can be a source of pain or reconciliation and lead to infernal gears or on the contrary to appeasement. Roy Clifford’s quest for his father guides him to move forward and find himself, despite the disillusionments experienced during his journey through space.
In this, Ad Astra is probably one of the most “optimistic” films by James Gray. Asked by Cinema Teaser in 2019, the director clarified on this subject:
It is obvious that a sort of reconciliation, undoubtedly unconscious, is taking place in me. I am 50 years old. I have a wonderful wife and three wonderful children. My life is wonderful in many ways – not in all ways because like everyone else I have my disappointments. At some point in life, ideas of transformation and transcendence take on great importance.
Carrying the themes of its author, the feature film owes a lot to the performance of Brad Pitt, whose marked face always quite rightly evokes the regrets and lacks of the past, as well as his inability to start a family with his partner played by Liv Tyler. . During the production ofAd Astra, the actor crosses himself a particularly complicated period, which feeds its game. In an interview for the New York Times, Angelina Jolie’s ex declares about her performance:
I had family concerns. We won’t say more. But we all carry some form of pain, grief and lack. We spend most of our lives hiding it, but it’s there, in you. So I dug in there.
An “underestimated” actor
During the promotion ofAd AstraJames Gray is full of praise for Brad Pitt. The filmmaker praises in particular his look at “human behavior” during an interview for the Los Angeles Times :
He’s an incredibly subtle actor, in a way I hadn’t even anticipated. And he’s extremely intelligent, very clever, he understands human behavior very well. In a way, I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but (Brad) Pitt is kind of an underrated actor. And it’s a pleasure to work with someone like that.
By understanding the desired vision for Ad Astra and by digging into his own emotions, Brad Pitt managed to transcribe Roy Clifford’s “turmoil” without actually exteriorizing it according to the director. A moving interpretation sublimated by the staging of James Gray.