Twenty years after his father left on a one-way mission to Neptune in order to find signs of extra-terrestrial intelligence, Roy McBride, an Army Corps engineer, travels through the solar system to find him and understand why his mission failed.
- Brad Pitt as Roy McBride, Clifford’s son
- Tommy Lee Jones as Clifford McBride, Roy’s lost father
- Ruth Negga as Helen Lantos
- Liv Tyler as Roy's wife
- Donald Sutherland as Thomas Pruitt
- Jamie Kennedy as Peter Bello
- John Finn as Stroud
- Kimberly Elise as Lorraine Deavers
- Bobby Nish as Franklin Yoshida
- LisaGay Hamilton as Adjutent General Amelia Vogel
- John Ortiz as General Rivas
Director James Gray first confirmed his plans to write and direct Ad Astra on May 12, 2016 during the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
In April 2017, whilst promoting The Lost City of Z, Gray compared the story of Ad Astra to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Gray also mentioned that he intended for the film to feature "the most realistic depiction of space travel that's been put in a movie and to basically say, 'Space is awfully hostile to us.'" Gray also confirmed that filming for Ad Astra would commence on July 17, 2017.
On April 10, 2017, James Gray confirmed that Brad Pitt would star in Ad Astra. In June, Tommy Lee Jones joined the cast to portray Pitt's lost father. In August, Ruth Negga, John Finn, Donald Sutherland and Jamie Kennedy joined the cast.
Principal photography on the film began in mid-August 2017 in Santa Clarita, California.