Brad Pitt Says ‘Ad Astra’ Is a Personal Film About Masculinity

Brad Pitt, the star and producer of James Gray’s sci-fi drama “Ad Astra,” which world premieres at Venice on Thursday, said that the film was a personal one and to some extent dealt with the modern concept of “masculinity.”

“In retrospect, what James and I were digging at was that definition of masculinity,” Pitt said at a news conference, alongside Gray and co-star Liv Tyler. “We’ve both grown up in an era where we were asked to be strong…and there is a value in that, but [also a] barrier because you’re hiding some of those things you feel ashamed of. We all hide and carry individual pain and wounds.”

Pitt plays Roy McBride, an astronaut who has followed in his father’s footsteps. The relationship between the two men is central to the film. (McBride’s father is played by Tommy Lee Jones.)

“We were asking the questions – is there a better definition [of masculinity] for us…a better relationship with loved ones, with your kids and with ourselves?” The actor said he and Gray didn’t have a “normal male relationship” because they were “open about sharing feelings, perceived failures or missteps” with each other.

Pitt also said “Ad Astra” was “one of the most challenging films I’ve ever worked on,” but not because the film takes place in outer space – although he admitted that he “shared some discomfort stories” with George Clooney, who starred in “Gravity.”

“The story is so delicate and we knew that any clips, voiceover could tip the film over, make it too obvious, so it was a constant effort to try to maintain a balance and keep this story unfolding in a very subtle and delicate way,” he said.

Pitt, who is often shown alone in the film rather than together with other characters, said one of the hardest things was to portray McBride’s lack of connection with his loved ones. The actor-producer said he was inspired by the character’s journey “as a man, as a father and as a son.”

Pitt said he and Gray also shared a love for “great films of the ’70s. In these films, the characters are not all good or bad but humans. These are the stories I’m drawn to… more complex than a black-and-white image of the world.”

Asked if he hoped to end up at the Oscars, Pitt said he was eager to see the film “get out there”and “curious to see where it lands” because “it has something to say about who we are…our purpose.”

“Every year, I see amazing talent getting acknowledged, and amazing talent not getting acknowledged,” he said. “When your name comes up it’s great, and when it doesn’t, it’s a usually a friend, so I’m happy, too.”

More Film

  • Ariel Winograd'TOD@S CAEN' film premiere, Los

    Viacom International Studios Signs First Look Deal with Ariel Winograd (EXCLUSIVE)

    MADRID  — Adding to a powerful and still growing talent roster, Viacom International Studios (VIS) has clinched a first-look deal with Argentine writer-director Ariel Winograd whose latest movie, “The Heist of the Century,” has just become one of the biggest Argentine openers in history. The multi-year pact takes in the development and production of not [...]

  • William Bogert Dead: 'Small Wonder' Actor

    William Bogert, Who Appeared in 'War Games,' 'Small Wonder,' Dies at 83

    TV, film and theater actor William Bogert, who appeared in a recurring role on 1980s sitcom “Small Wonder” and in films such as “War Games,” died Jan. 12 in New York. He was 83. On “Small Wonder,” which ran from 1985 to 1989, Bogert played Brandon Brindle, the Lawsons’ neighbor and Harriet’s father who became [...]

  • 1917 Movie

    Why '1917' Is the Last Film That Should Be Winning the Oscar (Column)

    There’s a feeling I always get at the end of a long Oscar night when the movie that won isn’t a terrible choice, but it’s the safe, blah, MOR predictable choice, the one that conforms to the dullest conventional wisdom about the kinds of movies Oscar voters prefer, because in the core of their being [...]

  • Civil Rights Drama 'Praying for Sheetrock'

    Civil Rights Drama 'Praying for Sheetrock' in the Works as Feature Film (EXCLUSIVE)

    Enderby Entertainment is developing a feature film based on Melissa Fay Greene’s civil rights drama “Praying for Sheetrock,” Variety has learned exclusively. The non-fiction book, published in 1991, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, Georgia Historical Society Bell Award and the ACLU National Civil [...]

  • Jared Harris arrives at the 26th

    No, Jared Harris is Not Playing Doctor Octopus in Marvel's 'Morbius'

    The first-ever trailer for Marvel and Sony’s next Spider-man spinoff “Morbius” left comic book fans reeling with theories. While the plight of the main character, Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) – a scientist dying of a rare blood disease who accidentally turns himself into a vampire – seemed ripped right out of the comics, the [...]

  • SAG Awards 2020: What You Didn't

    SAG Awards 2020: From Charlize Theron to 'Parasite,' What You Didn't See on TV

    Brad Pitt made a crack about his marriages. Robert De Niro got political. And Jennifer Aniston talked about appearing in a commercial for Bob’s Big Boy. Those were just some of thing that happened on stage at the SAG Awards that were broadcast on TNT/TBS on Sunday night. However, Variety was inside the Shrine Auditorium [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content