Everything you need to know about Ad Astra

Ad Astra is the story of an astronaut who is sent on a mission to stop his lost father’s previous mission. We see the return of Brad Pitt who stars alongside Tommy Lee Jones and Liv Tyler.


The basics

Certificate 12A

The film has a run time of 2 hours and 2 minutes. 

It was filmed in California. 

The UK release date is 18th September 2019. 

Written and Directed by James Gray. At the age of 25 in 1994 Gray made his name for his film ‘Little Odessa’. It won the Silver Lion at Venice. Gray has also worked on ‘The Lost City of Z’, ‘THe Immigrant’ and ‘We Own the Night’.

It was shot on 35mm. 

The cast

The film stars Brad Pitt, an actor and producer with a number of films under his name. Including the infamous ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’, ‘12 Years a Slave’, ‘Ocean’s E;even’ and ‘Fight CLub’. The list goes on. Pitt has recently said that he will be taking on more producer roles from now on. 

Ad Astra also stars Liv Tyler who is probably best known for her role in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ 

Tommy Lee Jones also stars in the film. Other films that he has worked on include  ‘The Men in Black’, ‘Lincoln’ and ‘The Family’. 

Ruth Negga also stars in Ad Astra. She has previously worked with Pitt in the 2013 film ‘World War Z’.

The film

Ad Astra follows an astronaut who goes into space to search for his lost father, whose own mission/ experiment now threatens the solar system. 

It is set in 2033. 

Ad Astra means “to the stars’ in Latin. 

The film was announced in early 2016. Gray announced it at the Cannes Film Festival. Pitt signed to star in the film in April 2017 and the rest of the cast joined later year. 

Filming began in August 2017 and carried on until October. 

The release date was pushed back twice. Due to Disney buying Fox, Disney did not want Ad Astra to compete with Disney which was another film they owned. 

The film had its world premier at the Venice Film Festival in August 2019. 

The film had a budget of nearly $90 million 

Gray has said it will feature “the most realistic depiction of space travel that’s been put in a movie.”

Speaking about his depiction of his character, Pitt said “family stuff’ helped him to get into character. 

Most reviews of the film have all been positive. 

Talking about the making of the film, Pitt said “The story … is so delicate and any clip of a frame too early or music cue or voiceover could easily tip the thing over or be too much or be too obvious. It was a constant effort just to try to maintain this balance and try to keep this story unfolding in a very subtle and delicate way.”

Other facts

This film is the first collaboration between James Gray and Brad Pitt. They were supposed to work together on ‘The Lost City of Z’ but Pitt had to drop out. However he did stay on as Executive Producer. 

Tommy Lee Jones, Loren Dean and Donald Sutherland have all worked together before on ‘Space Cowboys’ which was released in 2000. 

Liv Tyler has previously worked on ‘Armageddon’ which was also to do with space exploration. It was released in 1998. 

Speaking about the thought of there being life out there in space, Gray said “It’s not scary to me,” he also said “The famous quote by Arthur C. Clarke is: ‘Either we are alone in this universe, or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.’ I guess people think it’s terrifying because there’s no little green men to bail us out of our problems, or for us to unify and battle against.

He may play an astronaut, but that doesn’t mean Pitt actually wants to go into space himself. When asked he said ‘Nope. Not-existent whatsoever. Maybe when I was younger but it’s completely inhospitable, uncomfortable and I don’t see it happening.

A little directing tip from Gray now. He says that the “The close-up is the greatest weapon of cinema.” Gray explains that “The camera sees more than we see. You put a camera on an actor: if the actor isn’t thinking, you know it instantly. If the actor is thinking, you get great rewards. The theatre has no equivalent. The best seat in a theatre is 25ft away. It’s a wide-shot. But in the cinema, we get up really close. Our idea was to reveal the state of his soul.”

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Ad Astra