“Ad Astra” earned James Gray some of the strongest reviews of his career in 2019, proving that the filmmaker’s voice was just as applicable to outer space as it is to New York City and the Amazon rainforest.
But that doesn’t mean that Gray is completely thrilled with the finished product. In a new interview with Vulture, the “Armageddon Time” director explained he believes studio interference prevented the film from reaching its true potential.
“It was kind of a perfect storm,” Gray said. “The birthing of it was so screwed up for reasons that had nothing to do with the movie. New Regency made the film, and they were trying to get it through Fox, and we were talking to Fox people, and then Fox got sold to Disney and folded up, basically. That was a proud studio at Twentieth Century Fox, and it’s gone. And then you have the Disney group, and that’s a very different M.O. So it was completely screwed up on a corporate level. Also, with a film that is quite personal, people sometimes see themselves in it and will argue that other things are better. I did not have final cut, so I could not say, ‘I don’t like it. That’s the way it is.’”
Gray isn’t disavowing the entire film, and he remains hopeful that people can appreciate the parts of the movie that he retained control over.
“Now, I was very upset about it because, as the writer-director, I felt that my view should win the day,” he said. “And when people start coming up to you and saying, ‘Why’d you do all that stupid voice-over?’ and you didn’t do it, that’s a very frustrating experience. But it’s not like I want people to hate the movie. The way I feel about it is — by the way, I’m not saying it’s as good — you hope it’s your own ‘Blade Runner,’ where there are things in it that are clearly you that you love, and there are other things that were put into the film that aren’t you. There’s a lot I’m very proud of in the movie. But until then, I had been very lucky to have control over the films, and when the film stopped being a hundred percent mine, I became like a petulant little child.”