James Gray (film Director)
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James Gray Film Director
James Gray
MJK34332 James Gray (The Lost City Of Z, Berlinale 2017).jpg
Born (1969-04-14) April 14, 1969 (age 50)[1]
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter
Years active1994-present
Notable work
Alexandra Dickson (m. 2005)

James Gray (born April 14, 1969) is an American film director and screenwriter. Since his feature debut Little Odessa in 1994, he has made six other features, four of which competed for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Early life

Gray was born in New York City. He is of Ukrainian-Jewish descent,[3][4][5][6] with grandparents from Ostropol, Western Ukraine.[7] His father was once an electronics contractor. Gray attended the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, where his student film, Cowboys and Angels, helped him get an agent and the attention of producer Paul Webster, who encouraged him to write a script which he could produce.[8]


In 1994, at age 25, Gray made his first feature film Little Odessa, a film starring Tim Roth about a hit man confronted by his younger brother upon returning to his hometown, "Little Odessa," a section of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.[9] The film won the Silver Lion at the 51st Venice International Film Festival.[10]

In 2000, Miramax released his second film, The Yards, a crime drama shot in 1998.[] His third film, We Own the Night, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg, played in competition at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival in May,[11] receiving widely divergent reviews from international critics. We Own the Night was released theatrically in the US on October 12, 2007.[]

In November 2012 he was selected as a member of the main competition jury at the 2012 International Film Festival of Marrakech.[]

His 2013 film The Immigrant was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.[12]

He wrote the screenplay for Guillaume Canet's 2013 film Blood Ties with Canet.[13]

In August 2013, it was announced that Warner Bros tapped Gray to write and direct White Devil, a film based on the life of John Willis.[14]

In October 2016, Gray's film The Lost City of Z premiered at the New York Film Festival. The film, based on the book by David Grann, depicts the life of explorer Percy Fawcett, played by Charlie Hunnam.

Gray first confirmed his plans to write and direct sci-fi space epic Ad Astra on May 12 during the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.[15] The film was released in September 2019.

Personal life

Gray married Alexandra Dickson in 2005. The couple have three children.[16]


Year Film Director Producer Writer Notes
1994 Little Odessa Yes No Yes Feature directorial debut
2000 The Yards Yes No Yes Co-written with Matt Reeves
2007 We Own the Night Yes No Yes
2008 Two Lovers Yes Yes Yes Co-written with Richard Menello
2013 Blood Ties No Executive Yes Co-screenwriter with Guillaume Canet; based on Les liens du sang by Jacques Maillot
The Immigrant Yes Yes Yes Co-written with Richard Menello
2016 The Lost City of Z Yes Yes Yes Based on the book of the same name by David Grann
2019 Ad Astra Yes Yes Yes Co-written with Ethan Gross

Frequent collaborators


Actor Film
Little Odessa (1994) The Yards (2000) We Own the Night (2007) Two Lovers (2008) The Immigrant (2013) The Lost City of Z (2016) Ad Astra (2019)
Ron Brice Yes Yes
Ross Brodar Yes Yes
Teddy Coluca Yes Yes
Antoni Corone Yes Yes
Irwin Gray Yes Yes
Jace Kent Yes Yes
Al Linea Yes Yes
Moni Moshonov Yes Yes
Tony Musante Yes Yes
Scott Nicholson Yes Yes
Loukas Papas Yes Yes
Joaquin Phoenix Yes Yes Yes Yes
Yelena Solovey Yes Yes Yes
Jose Edwin Soto Yes Yes
Mark Wahlberg Yes Yes
Craig Walker Yes Yes


Festival Award Year Title Result
51st Venice International Film Festival Golden Lion 1994 Little Odessa Nominated
Silver Lion Won
11th Independent Spirit Awards Best First Screenplay 1996 Nominated
Best First Feature Nominated
2000 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or 2000 The Yards Nominated
2007 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or 2007 We Own the Night Nominated
2008 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or 2008 Two Lovers Nominated
25th Independent Spirit Awards Best Director 2010 Nominated
2013 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or 2013 The Immigrant Nominated


  1. ^ Tatiana Siegel (20 May 2007). "Dialogue: James Gray". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (5 November 2013). "James Gray, Nicolas Winding Refn & More Giving Masterclasses At 2013 Marrakech International Film Festival". IndieWire.
  3. ^ Kilday, Gregg (May 21, 2013). "Cannes: James Gray on 'The Immigrant,' Marion Cotillard and Returning to the Fest (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018.
  4. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (October 17, 2016). "Director James Gray goes on his own search while creating 'The Lost City of Z'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2018. And he is. He's also a grade-A kibitzer, a gregarious character, whose chatty and self-effacing wit bespeaks his Queens upbringing and Eastern European-Jewish heritage.
  5. ^ Jeng, Jonah (April 20, 2017). "Of Immigrants and the City: A James Gray Retrospective". Paste Magazine. Retrieved 2018.
  6. ^ Applebaum, Stephen (March 27, 2017). "James Gray: Exploring the dark and personal". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 2018.
  7. ^ "James Gray Interview For 'The Immigrant'". Flicks and Bits. 23 May 2013. Archived from the original on 19 June 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  8. ^ Transcript of Online Conference with Little Odessa Writer/Director James Gray, Fine Line Features, 1995, Accessed 11 May 2008.
  9. ^ James, Caryn (19 May 1995). "Little Odessa (1994) - Film Review; Russian Emigre Family With a Son in the Mob". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Anastasia, George; Macnow, Glen, eds. (2011). The Ultimate Book of Gangster Movies. Running Press. pp. 293, 294.
  11. ^ "Festival de Cannes: We Own the Night". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009.
  12. ^ "2013 Official Selection". Cannes. 20 April 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  13. ^ Halligan, Fionnuala (20 May 2013). "Blood Ties - Reviews". Screen International.
  14. ^ "Warner Bros. Lines Up Director James Gray For Boston Mafia Crime Drama White Devil". Boston Magazine. 21 August 2013.
  15. ^ Lang, Brent (12 May 2016). "Cannes: James Gray Making Sci-Fi Epic 'Ad Astra'". Variety. Variety Media, LLC. Retrieved 2017.
  16. ^ "Cannes: James Gray on 'The Immigrant,' Marion Cotillard and Returning to the Fest (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. 21 May 2013. Retrieved 2013.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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