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Filmmaker James Gray has been expanding in scope over the last few years, from the brilliant and haunting period story The Immigrant to the adventure-tinged drama of The Lost City of Z, but back in February word came that Gray was gearing up to expand his horizons considerably by going full sci-fi. Gray co-wrote a film called Ad Astra with Ethan Ross that revolves around a slightly autistic engineer whose father left 20 years ago on a one-way mission to Neptune in order to find signs of extra-terrestrial intelligence. As an adult, he now sets out to travel the solar system to find his father and discover why his mission failed.

With Lost City of Z now hitting theaters, word came that Gray was eyeing Ad Astra—which has been in the works for a year—as his next film, with Brad Pitt potentially starring no less. So when Collider’s own Steve Weintraub spoke with Gray at the press day for Lost City of Z, he asked if Ad Astra is indeed his next project with Pitt in the starring role:

“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).”

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