One Sci-Fi Movie Will Be Able To Film During The Pandemic Thanks To Casting An AI Robot As Its Lead

Alicia Vikander as the A.I Ava in Ex Machina
(Image credit: (A24))

Move over, Alicia Vikander, there’s a new movie A.I. in town, and she’s literally a robot. After decades of movies and television exploring fictional interactions between artificial intelligence and humans, such as with Ex Machina, Westworld and Terminator, Hollywood has cast an actual piece of technology to play a robot in the $70 million film titled b.

You may have heard of her. Erica is a five-year-old advanced android that was created by Japanese scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa during their research in human-robot interaction. She looks like a woman in her early ‘20s, she can make facial expressions and is programmed to hold casual conversations with peopl. She even has a few robot jokes up her sleeve.

The upcoming movie b will serve as the first time Hollywood has cast an android actor for a film. Erica has even been taught to act through an implementation of applied principles of acting into her program, per The Hollywood Reporter. The film will center on a scientist who has designed an artificially intelligent woman and decides to help her escape after he learns a program he created to perfect human DNA is dangerous. Writer and producer Sam Khoze explained working with Erica with these words:

In other methods of acting, actors involve their own life experiences in the role. But Erica has no life experiences. She was created from scratch to play the role. We had to simulate her motions and emotions through one-on-one sessions, such as controlling the speed of her movements, talking through her feelings and coaching character development and body language.

The plot of b certainly sounds reminiscent of Ex Machina, since the 2014 movie, albeit made on a much smaller budget of $15 million, followed the interactions between Alicia Vikander’s A.I. character Ava and Domnhall Gleeson’s Caleb as he forms a bond with her and tries to help her escape against the will of her creator, Nathan (Oscar Isaac).

You can check out Erica answer fan questions back in 2017, shortly after her short documentary Erica Man Made was produced by The Guardian:

Now that’s amazing. There is something particularly eerie about an actual A.I. speaking about her own experiences as a robot rather than an actress. It will be much easier for Erica to recite lines from a script than produce these organic answers from an interview. Will Erica get a chance to improvise? We’ll have to see. Some of b was already filmed in 2019, and the production will resume in Europe in June 2021.

A director and human co-star for Erica has not yet been picked out, but b was written by Sam Khoze, Eric Pham and Tarek Zohdy. This news is a fitting announcement for Hollywood considering the struggles the industry is dealing with to make safe productions amidst the coronavirus pandemic. After months of standstill, Hollywood is slowly starting to get back to work and adhere to the new guidelines for productions, such as the ban of sex scenes.

Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more updates on Hollywood productions in the works.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.