×

PopPolitics: James Gray on How Today’s Rise of Trump Plays Into ‘Lost City of Z’

James Gray, director of “The Lost City of Z,” which opens this weekend, said that what first drew him to the story was its undercurrent of class striving.

Set in Edwardian England, it focuses on Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), whose family name has been tarnished by his father’s misdeeds, and he sets out to become a world famous explorer. His obsession becomes the search for a legendary lost civilization in the Amazon, which he never finds.

The project went through years in development, and Gray says that his perspective even changed.

“Then as the movie took a long time get made, what I began to see is the encroaching nationalism and the creeping racism, really, and I decided to delve into that as much as I could for the movie, because it was certainly there — Edwardian England, as it is today,” he says, referring to the rise of Donald Trump, Brexit, and other movements.

In the movie, Fawcett is viewed as somewhat of an outlier in thinking that the indigenous populations of the Amazon were anything but savages, and certainly not capable of an advanced civilization. Gray said that in making the movie, though, what he wanted to avoid any storyline of the white man as the “noble savage,” or that the indigenous people depend “on the white, blonde haired European for their existence.”

“What I tried to do was treat the indigenous people in the film as entirely independent of the white man’s involvement,” he tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM.

Gray said that for him, typically “making the movies about what is wrong with the world is a great motivator,” so “The Lost City of Z,” a story set a century ago, was a bit unusual for him.

A challenge was that the movie doesn’t end with the discovery of the lost city. Based on David Grann’s book, “The Lost City of Z,” it shows how Fawcett, on his last expedition with his son, disappeared into the Amazon in 1925 and was never heard from again.

Listen below:

Hasan Minhaj’s Big Break

Nikki Schwab of Daily Mail talks about the selection of Hasan Minhaj as the featured entertainer at this year’s White House Correspondents Assn. dinner, and how the decision by President Trump to skip the event may actually be a great opportunity for the comic.

Listen below:

“PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays from 2-3 pm ET/11-noon PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It also is available on demand.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Weinstein Can Get a Fair Trial in Manhattan, Says D.A.

    The Manhattan District Attorney’s office argued on Friday that Harvey Weinstein can get a fair trial in Manhattan, and blamed the producer’s defense team for much of the pre-trial publicity in the case. Weinstein’s attorneys have asked an appellate court to transfer the case — which is set to begin on Sept. 9 — to [...]

  • Leonardo DiCaprio Madonna

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna Call for Action on Amazon Wildfires

    As wildfires rage at an alarming rate in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest, celebrities are using their platforms to bring awareness to the deforestation’s impact and to call for action. In the past week, stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna, Cara Delevingne and Ariana Grande have taken to Instagram to express their frustration with the lack of [...]

  • 'The Durrells' TV Show

    Greece Sweetens Production Incentives as Struggling Country's Economy Rebounds

    It’s taken the better part of a decade for Greece to show signs of recovery from the crippling crisis that almost pushed it out of the Eurozone. Now, with the economy slowly on the mend, the government is doubling down on efforts to jump-start the local film industry, giving a dramatic overhaul to the incentive [...]

  • Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group announced it has entered a partnership with the music streaming and discovery service Audiomack, marking the platform’s first licensing deal with a major label. According to the announcement, the two companies will work together on content concepts and explore ways to break emerging artists, connecting music fans with rising talent before they [...]

  • Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on

    Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on ‘Brilliant’ Album and Campaign

    Two days after Taylor Swift fired off the latest salvo in her battle with Scooter Braun, the manager congratulated the singer on the campaign around her “brilliant” new album, “Lover,” which arrived last night. The message came after Swift said she will be re-recording songs from her first six albums, which are now owned by [...]

  • David Koch Obit

    David Koch, Libertarian Activist and Billionaire Philanthropist, Dies at 79

    David Koch, brother of Charles Koch and one of the owners of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the U.S., has died at 79. According to the New York Times, Charles Koch announced the news of his brother’s death in a statement. Though he did not attribute to David’s death to a particular cause, [...]

  • Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing

    Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing From Usher, Adam Lambert

    A Beverly Hills real estate agent has been arrested on charges of stealing from the homes of celebrities, including Usher, Adam Lambert and “Real Housewives” star Dorit Kemsley. Jason Emil Yaselli, 32, is accused of encouraging an accomplice, Benjamin Ackerman, to enter homes during open houses in order to steal from them. Ackerman allegedly sold [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content