Grandson of Russian immigrants, writer and film director James gray, was born in New York in 1969. He grew up in Queens, a neighborhood symbolic of the melting pot of cultures, where he experienced the problems of social class and problematic inclusion in a chaotic urban environment. Passionate about painting, he approached the cinema as an avid spectator of the works of Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Altman, Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese.
His passion turned into study when he attended the School of Motion Picture Arts at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, where producer Paul Webster, impressed by a student film by Gray (“Cowboys and angels“), encouraged him to write a script. Thus, at age 25, Gray wrote and directed “Little odessa“(1994), an intense and dark metropolitan tragedy, a ruthless look at a family tragedy, starring Vanessa Redgrave, Tim Roth and Edward Furlong.
Presented in competition at the Venice Film Festival, the debut of Gray won the Silver Lion and a Volpi Cup for a performance by Vanessa Redgrave. Dark and unpleasant film, but well received, “Little Odessa” presented to the cinema, a brave author, able to avoid the clichés of American cinema. Many critics called Gray “the heir of Scorsese”, with whom he shares an interest in the coexistence of diversity in North American society.
After this unexpected disappointment, a long pause began during which Gray rejected a series of projects and decided to dedicate himself to spontaneous cinema, away from box office pressures.
Seven years after his second film, he directed “The night is ours
“(2007), a work that insists on the issues of family relationships (this time including siblings), forced to mix in turbos gangster businesses. Despite the strong chemistry between Eva Mendes and Joaquin Phoenix, the film failed to escape the canons of the history of its beginnings.
For this reason, in his next work “Two Lovers” (2008), the director did not change the protagonist (Phoenix again), but changed genre, filming a love story inspired by a tale by Dostoevsky (“White Nights”).
In his personal life Gray He is married to the film producer and director, Alexandra Dickson; they both have 3 children.