When it comes to Hollywood pitches that practically greenlight themselves, “Apocalypse Now in space” has to be pretty high on the list. That’s the premise of Ad Astra, the next film by acclaimed writer-director James Gray (The Immigrant, The Lost City of Z). In February, news broke that Brad Pitt  —  who had served as a producer on Gray’s previous film  —  was looking to join the filmmaker for his science-fiction epic about a man who heads into space to pursue his missing father. And now it seems that Gray has found his film’s father figure (put your tiny haaaaand in mine), with Tommy Lee Jones recently signing on to play the vanished astronaut.

According to Deadline (via iO9), Jones is in the final stages of contract negotiations for the film, which is set to begin production in September. As Deadline notes, Jones is expected to play the father of Pitt’s Roy McBride, who previously left one a one-way mission to Neptune to explore traces of alien civilizations (and who disappeared without a trace shortly thereafter). Pitt is tasked with finding his missing father and discovering what happened to the original mission, putting Ad Astra solidly in the crosshairs of Apocalypse Now and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.

While a big science-fiction film might seem an odd twist from Gray, his last two films have both been about a kind of exploration  —  cultural or geographic  —  and Ad Astra might fit more neatly into his filmography than some expect. With both Pitt and Jones onboard for the movie, it’s probably not a bad idea to put Ad Astra on the award season fast track, either. Put me down as one of those people who absolutely adored Interstellar, so I’m ready for more melancholy space explorations whenever they are. Surely, Jones will find more to keep him awake in this movie than he did in Jason Bourne.

More From ScreenCrush