Filmmakers’ increasing reliance on computer-generated effects and characters in Hollywood has been a source of a great deal of anxiety among human actors for quite a few years now, so the latest news to come out of the overlap between technology and the movie industry probably will not get any kind of warm reception from thespians.
Tony Kaye, the director of American History X, is hoping to have an artificially intelligent robot star in his next film. As if that wasn’t enough to prompt a collective twitch from the acting industry, he’s also hoping the robot actor’s performance will be officially recognized by the Screen Actors Guild.
According to Deadline, Kaye hopes to cast a real robot, trained in various acting techniques and utilizing some form of artificial intelligence, instead of relying on computer-generated effects for one of the lead roles in his upcoming film 2nd Born. Kaye and producer Sam Khoze reportedly came up with the idea to use a physical robot for the role, and are hoping to get SAG recognition for the android actor.
While the plan is certainly controversial, the debut of Kaye’s robot lead is complicated by the fact that 2nd Born is intended to be a sequel to a film that hasn’t actually hit theaters yet.
The indie comedy 1st Born — directed by Khoze and Ali Atshani — is expected to hit theaters later this year, and follows a married couple whose extended families must overcome their cultural differences for the sake of their new baby. Reza Sixo Safai portrays the Iranian-born Ben, while Taylor Cole plays his wife, Kate, whose complicated pregnancy forces the couple’s families together. Val Kilmer, Tom Berenger, Greg Grunberg, William Baldwin, and Denise Richards fill out the rest of the film’s cast.
How a robot actor is expected to fit into the sequel to 1st Born (which doesn’t exactly seem like a natural fit for a robot actor) — and why a sequel to an indie comedy is already in the works with a different director — remains unknown at this point.
It’s worth noting that Stanley Kubrick initially explored the idea of using a robot actor for the lead role in the film that eventually became 2001’s A.I., but scrapped the idea due to the limits of technology at that time. Steven Spielberg later took over the project and cast a human actor, Haley Joel Osment, in the role.