How a painful chapter from his own youth revived James Gray’s passion for filmmaking
James Gray is one of the most revered filmmakers on the American independent film scene. In 2004, his film Before Midnight became the first Oscar-nominated film directed by and starring a black person. His 2009 film Gone Girl was the highest grossing American independent film ever. His other films include his 2007 film The Hours, and 2016 crime drama The Man From U.N.C.L.E..
Gray’s latest film, The Fits, was his 12th film in his nearly two-decade-long career. The Fits was originally intended to be a love letter to his grandmother, but the film was retitled to The Fits: The Story of a Man in Love after the film became something of a subject of national discussion.
The Fits tells the story of James Gray (played by James McDaniel) and his best friend and fellow filmmaker, Larry (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor). While Larry is still very much in love with his wife (played by Cynthia Nixon), and James is still grieving the loss of his mother in their 20s, they find an unlikely common interest in their friend, Larry’s ex-wife, and she begins to flirt with James for her husband’s attention.
It’s here that Gray’s passion for filmmaking comes to the forefront.
“You know, filmmaking’s a very strange thing,” Gray said. “Filmmaking isn’t necessarily a solitary pursuit and then there’s a community and then there’s a relationship with that community. Some people make films alone and some people don’t even have families and then there’s a community that’s there. And then it works. So why is filmmaking so important and why is it so weird? If you ask me,