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James Gray, the guest on this episode of The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, is a New York-born, L.A.-based filmmaker who has been described by the Los Angeles Times as “a director who has, uncommonly, carved a career on his own terms,” the New York Times as “an accidental maverick: an unrepentant traditionalist in a business that prizes newness and shtick” and by the French newspaper Le Monde as “one of the great American directors of our time.”
He has written or co-written and directed eight feature films over the last 28 years: 1994’s Little Odessa, 2000’s The Yards, 2007’s We Own the Night, 2008’s Two Lovers, 2013’s The Immigrant, 2016’s The Lost City of Z, 2019’s Ad Astra and this year’s Armageddon Time — all of which had their world premiere at one of the world’s elite film festivals (five at Cannes, two at Venice and one at New York).
Over the course of our conversation at Gray’s home in Los Angeles, the 53-year-old reflected on the turmoil that was taking place at home in New York as he headed off to L.A. to attend film school and then, at the age of just 23, to make his widely acclaimed first feature; the challenges that he has encountered along with way both on indies, including multiple run-ins with Harvey Weinstein, and on studio films, including having a film taken away from him; why he has so often returned, in his films, to New York’s outer boroughs and to the subjects of immigrants, social class and his own family, most recently in Armageddon Time; plus much more.
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