An A.I. robot named Erica was cast in the lead role of a $70M sci-fi film
As if the world wasn’t getting dystopian enough.
An enterprising sci-fi film crew has devised an ingenious way to shoot their film while circumventing coronavirus concerns — by casting a real-life A.I. robot named Erica. The move marks the first time a movie will star an artificially intelligent actor, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“She was created from scratch to play the role,” says Sam Khoze, a visual-effects supervisor behind “b,” the $70 million science-fiction film in which Erica will star. The flick, backed by Bondit Capital Media and New York’s Ten Ten Global Media, follows a scientist who finds a glitch in his DNA-replication research and helps the artificial organism he designed (Erica) escape, according to the outlet.
The plot of “b” bears an uncanny resemblance to Erica’s own backstory. The cybernetic thespian was developed as part of a robotics study by Japanese scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa, who reportedly taught her to apply method-acting principles to artificial intelligence.
Naturally, teaching an android to emote onscreen wasn’t without glitches. “In other methods of acting, actors involve their own life experiences in the role,” Khoze says. “But Erica has no life experiences.”
To avoid the artificial actress coming across as, well, robotic, the team had to “simulate her motions and emotions through one-on-one sessions,” which entailed “controlling the speed of her movements, talking through her feelings and coaching character development and body language.” Perhaps their methods can replace the Hollywood tradition of casting robotic human actors in android roles.
The team has yet to land a human co-star or director for “b,” parts of which were filmed in Japan in 2019, THR reports. The rest of “b” is slated to be shot in Europe in June 2021.
This could be the (near) future of acting, as the film and television industries have been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic with production delays affecting everything from “Fast and Furious F9” to “The Bachelorette.”
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