Further proof that the future is now, a robot will star in the lead role of an upcoming movie. Director Tony Kaye (American History X) is casting an artificially intelligent robot in the sequel to the upcoming indie comedy 1st Born (starring Val Kilmer, Tom Berenger, and Denise Richards), aptly titled 2nd Born.
While the use of an artificially intelligent actor might suggest that 2nd Born would belong in the science fiction genre, Kaye’s upcoming movie will actually be a romantic comedy. And though there are currently no details regarding the plot, the first movie centers around a married couple who are forced to deal with complications not only pertaining to their first pregnancy, but their extended family as well. The couple’s parents are at odds with each other due to differing backgrounds, but realize that they must overcome their differences for the sake of the baby. Now, despite not having any sci-fi influence in the sequel (as far as the plot of its predecessor implies) one of its characters will be played by a robot – though Kaye has yet to specify who that character will be.
According to Deadline, Kaye came up with the idea to use an artificially intelligent robot in the movie after a discussion with one of the movie’s producers, Sam Khoze. The two men decided that the use of a physical robot over a computer-generated character was preferable, going so far as to hope that it might get official recognition from the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG). Kaye also explained that the artificially intelligent robot will be trained as a proper actor, learning traditional acting techniques. However, as it turns out, the inclusion of an artificially intelligent robot actor isn’t the only groundbreaking element in this upcoming film series, with 1st Born also being the very first Iranian-American co-production ever.
Kaye is no stranger to calling questionable attention to his movies. Aside from testing the waters with robot actors in lead roles, he ran into some trouble on his controversial movie American History X, about a white supremacist (played by Edward Norton) who ultimately has a change of heart after serving time in prison. After issues pertaining to the final cut of the movie, Kaye requested that his name be removed from the credits.
What Kaye is trying to pull off is certainly innovative; and, in Hollywood, innovation is exciting. The film industry – like any other art source – has been evolving for the past century. That said, the changes have been mostly gradual (see: talkies, color film, etc.), long enough to let audiences familiarize themselves with the new normal. So, introducing a robot in a lead role – when the closest thing audiences have come to that was, at best, Scarlett Johansson’s voice in Her or Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina – might result in some divisive reactions.