I Robot: Will Smith and Bridget Moynahan Q&A
Will Smith and Bridget Moynahan chat about staring in I Robot and its spectacular, state-of-the-art visual effects technique that bring a world of robots to life.
Did you have any trouble shooting with special effects?
We used a process on this film that was similar to the process they used for Galem on Lord of the Rings. So essentially, they had an actor, Alan Tyduck played Sonny who was the main robot, so I got to actually work a scene with the guy where we go, you know, when you’re just making a drama, you sit down and you talk about the scene. We were then able to create, wonderful, emotional scenes, because I get to look at a guy who’s having a real emotion. And then when I see the film later and they’ve taken Alan out and they’ve used all of his facial expressions, they’ve used his body language, and they’ve used his voice. So, there’s a real human quality to the robots that are really fun for me, but I think will be chilling for people watching the movie. It’s scary, icky, kind of human-y that those are all real words! (Laughs)
How do you compare this character to the character you were playing in Men in
Yes this character is more comparable to dramatic characters that I’ve played in my big summer blockbusters. This guy is a troubled, textured character.
Why is he troubled?
He’s had the experiences that he’s had with the robots….he’s what we call in 2035, a robophobe. He’s had experiences that he shies away from technology. He doesn’t like anything new, from the music he listens to, all the clothes he wears, everything is retro. He survived an accident and he has what is called ‘Survivor’s Guilt.’
Is this like Bladerunner?
Yes, Bladerunner definitely. That was the film that we all really looked at as far as trying to capture both elements, to create a film that pleases the sci-fi audience and also, anyone that walks into a movie theatre there’s a story that can be followed. You don’t have to like science fiction to like the movie.
So, what’s the deal with Bridget’s character- is she your romantic interest?
Well, there’s definitely sexual tension. The romantic element of the film is not played up. There are sparks, but there’s a bigger problem we’ve got to deal with here (laughs)…you just can’t break down for a love scene in the middle, people will leave the theatre.
Are you singing on the I Robot soundtrack?
We didn’t really do a soundtrack, it’s more of a score album than a soundtrack.
So you’re not singing this time?
No, not in I Robot.
How do you feel about that?
Nobody’s really singing in I Robot! (Laughs)
What kind of music is in the movie?
A lot of Stevie Wonder. The movie actually opens up with Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstitious,’ which really works for this character.
Do you have a choice in the selection the retro clothes he wears?
Yeah, you know he wears the old school Converses, and there’s actually a point in the movie, because he has the leather Converses, so he refers to them as ‘Vintage 2004.’ (Laughs)
Why do you like science fiction so much?
It’s not so much as an actor that I love it, just as a kid growing up, science fiction was my genre. I loved the imagination of science fiction. I think at heart, I’m really an idealist and there’s no where for me in entertainment that you can really stretch the bounds of human possibility more than science fiction. I just love it.
What makes you an idealist?
I don’t know, I guess we’re kind of born that way. I don’t know if that’s something that you develop into an idealist versus a realist versus an analyst.
So, you’re a hopeful?
You know it’s really weird, I’m an idealist when I’m talking about me and I’m a realist when I’m talking about other people. (Smiles) I have actor friends and they come and say: ‘What do you think of this script?’ And I have to give them two answers. If I was going to make it, it would be great! I’m concerned about YOU making it. (Laughs) Because I know that I’m going to work 18 hours a day and I see the level of work that this script needs to get good but I know the person that I’m talking to is not willing to work 18 hours a day on anything. You know what I’m saying?
So, are you underestimating your friends?
I’m not underestimating as much as for me, like for an example, take Ali. I would never have told any of my friends to make that movie. Don’t ruin your career making Ali! You’re not going to do the voice right. You’re not going to going to gain the weight right. You’re not going to learn how to box right. You’re not going to do what it takes to not be kicked out of Hollywood. But for me, I know I’m going to do what it takes to make it good!! (Laughs)
Are you going to have a bet with your wife as to which of your summer’s movies are going to do better as she has Collateral coming out?
(Laughs) She beat me last year. She beat me last year with The Matrix. She has a good shot at me this year with Collateral – it’s ridiculous!! Collateral is really, really good.
How do you and Jada position yourself as to who is the star and who’s not the
star? Is it balanced?
It’s just fun for us. We both know that our priorities don’t lie in this business. We just have a little fun with it, and extra enjoyment of the time we spend together. It gives us something else to talk about. It’s definitely not an issue.
Do you trust technology? Are you computer savvy?
Yes, very computer savvy. I’m a tech-junkie.
Talking of gadgets, what happened with the Audi?
They brought it in. I don’t think people realized that they were going to react and respond the way that they did to that car, because they only built two for the movie. I don’t think they were planning to introduce the car, but it’s getting a lot of heat. It was supposed to just be a cool commercial, the future Audi, but people want the car.
Would you buy one for yourself?
Those cars are cool. They are really cool. The design and the doors and everything. Just the look and the curves are really great. I love stretching the ideas and the possibilities.
Does a future with robots scare you? Do you feel threatened by that after working on this film?
What’s really interesting about the film that I think that people are willing to think a little bit more that the robots actually don’t have a mind of their own. They’re confined by human logic. And human logic is inherently flawed, because there’s only a certain amount of moves ahead that human logic can extrapolate. But then when you create a machine that’s going to follow your logical paradigms that can extrapolate hundreds of years down the line….can do calculations beyond what humans can do, you’re eventually going to have a glitch. And that was the bases of all the Isaac Asimov short stories which is the bases of the film. There’s a question – did the robots develop a mind of their own? Or is there any interpretation of this logical paradigm that has been set for it? Is there an interpretation that we are missing? And that’s what the question of all the shorts were. We have to do something about the shorts and then Dr. Susan Calvin, Bridgette’s character would try to figure out how that fits into the three laws.
What’s your ethical feeling about smart technology? Do you show an appreciation
and trust it?
I think that the life that technology takes will only be a magnification of the flaws of the human mind. I think that’s all technology can be. You take a tree or something that has it’s own force and then you can expect that it will grow in a different direction, than you expected it to grow. Then technology is strictly based upon human logic and once you plant those seeds it will grow, but it will grow as connected and only as it is connected to human logic and the expansion of human logic. So the problem will never be with technology. The problem will always be with human limitation.
Are you more excited about making a movie with original material as opposed
to a doing a sequel?
The thing with the sequel is you hit the ground running. The beauty of a sequel is you know the character and you get it up to speed. The first day on the set, you know all actors, the director, you know the crew.
So, were you disappointed about the response the Bad Boys 2 sequel received?
Well, sometimes you know and sometimes you don’t. You just go in the there and you take a shot every time. You just see what happens. With Bad Boys, I knew, because you see the movie you know what it’s going to be, so you’re not disappointed AFTER it comes out. (Smiles) You were disappointed three months earlier when you looked at it! (Laughs) So, you’ve got to take your shot and you see what happens. Sometimes you hit it and sometimes you don’t. For me now with I Robot, because I’ve seen the movie and I know where it’s coming, it’s a much more comfortable space to know that what ever the movie does, this movie is going to hit the core audience. This movie is going to have those crazy, kind of Star Trek fans that cut their ears and shit. (Laughs) This movie hits an emotional intellectual level.
Are you recording a new album?
Yes, I’m actually recording while I’m here, so I’m looking to release something soon.
Is acting the main thing for you right now? How do you keep the passion alive in your music?
I always record. I have a studio in my house, so even when I’m not putting things out, I’m still recording. There hasn’t been a point in my life where I didn’t have thirty songs lying around.
Do you think you’ll ever go back to making the independent films again,
like Six Degrees of Separation?
You know the thing, the limits of human logic on that you know, I’m 35 years old right now. I really don’t have a lot of years of running and jumping and shooting left. Probably four years from now, start settling down. You know, I’ll be mixing one in here and there, like for me going to Ali was the best of both worlds, because I got to fight and it was kind of action orientated, powerful character driven film so.
Is running for office still a future move for you?
(Sighs) I think I just would have a lot easier time disseminating my views and moving things in the way that my spirit causes me to move things from the private sector. The world of politics is very limiting I think.
As a child what books or films, do you think shaped your sci-fi world?
I think Star Wars did most of the heavy lifting with me. Just every aspect of that was so imaginative to me. I felt the power of Luke Skywalker’s hero’s journey without knowing intellectually. I connected to that. I innately knew that there was something different about Star Wars. As I got older, I started studying a little more and reading a little more and I was like: ‘Okay, I see what those elements are.’ But there was just something about the limitlessness of the human dreams. I was like, someone actually saw this in their mind and created it so I could see. These creatures don’t exist. That was powerful to me that someone, like what goes on in someone’s mind to be able to create that kind of imagery. I was blown away by that. Stephen King does that to me too. What the hell does he do on a day off? You know, what is he thinking about right now? (Laughs) The Shining – those movies on the other side, with the horror elements. I would say, science-fiction was first forming, then horror does secondly. It was just amazing to me that someone….in The Shining, the shot with the two girls jumping rope. It was like, how the hell does somebody know that would be scary? (Laughs) They are just jumping rope, man, why can’t they just jump rope! Why is that scary that they are jumping rope?! So I think the cinema always compelled my mind.
I don’t have a next film.
What about The Last First Kiss?
I’m doing The Last First Kiss right now and I have no idea what I’m doing next. I have no clue.
What’s the name of your new album?
Is it going to be more on a spiritual plane?
There are quite a few things, I’m writing the spiritual elements right now a little bit.
Is it coming out on Columbia?
No, I’m actually unsigned at the moment. So, I’ll make a deal where someone loves me!
Bridget, your character Dr Calvin, is a robot shrink – does that mean you have
to put C3P0 on the couch?
Now that would be funny. No, Susan’s helped develop state of the art household robots and programmed them to behave like human beings. Except, according to her, the three laws central to their system mean they can never harm anyone. So she trusts them more than she does people. She believes they should be fully integrated into society. Will Smith’s character Del Spooner is a technophobe and thinks the exact opposite.
The central premise of I Robot is that a robot has contravened it’s programming and committed murder right?
Yes. Will believes Sonny [played by Alan Tudyk] has killed someone. I believe it’s a case of suicide and it’s my job to prove Will wrong – though ultimately our characters are mutually enlightening.
In reality would you have a robot as a household appliance?
Yes but I’d have a Version 4, which only functions to cook and clean. A Version 5 is programmed to become emotionally involved with you, reacting like another human being and I already have enough of those around me to deal with.
What’s your most invaluable household appliance and does it vibrate?
The only thing I use is a blender. For smoothies in the morning and margaritas at night.
Any appliance you can’t operate?
I’m a bachelor when it comes to appliances; I’m handy – I can fix them – but you won’t catch me using the vacuum.
Talking of men and cleaning [not] how was working with Will Smith?
He came into the press junket this morning and was making fun of my laugh and within seconds, the whole room was in stitches. The entire shoot was like that. I laughed for six months and it was painful. Plus he’s a consummate professional and I learned so much from him. How he does it whilst keeping everyone on set happy is a gift.
Do you get to kiss him?
No. And I don’t know why not!
So do you think he should run for presidency?
Will? Ha! I think about anybody should at this point. He impressed me so much in the running of his life, business, his commitment to his family and friends. So he is a role model and there are not many of them around. To have someone like him as a politician would not only be great – but unusual.
The other men you worked with on the movie were the robots – thousands
of Canadian extras in green Lycra – how was that?
It was like a bad 80s music video – I’ve never seen so much fluorescent. And it was deeply disturbing to see so many men in TIGHT green Lycra.
So you were good at running around shooting them with your gun?
Not terribly. My character had never used a firearm in her life so she and I both learnt on the job. And because we had to shoot every shot three times – a layering device to be combined with CGI in postproduction – it was incredibly difficult to remember where and who you were shooting at. We had three sets us; for example we’d shoot once with the men in Lycra, once with just the actors and once with nobody.
Is sci-fi your bag generally?
No. I don’t watch it and I’m deeply scared of Star Trek ‘conventions.’
Not a blockbuster gal then?
I prefer smaller films. With pure SFX movies I walk away and it’s like you’ve just eaten sushi. You eat loads; leave and you’re still not full. But I Robot has intelligence, a human story line and heart enough to guarantee you don’t get lost in special effects. There are some very tender moments – do I sound like a bad 70s love song?
Yes but hey … so bottom line Bridget are you still stuck in the 70s or like your character Susan – computer savvy?
I love my IPOD and digital camera and I have a Blackberry – a phone, diary, address book and email in one. I use it to do my business and contact family and friends.
Ah but have you backed it up? Just in case you lose it.
Do not jinx me like that! My girlfriend slept over last night and just before we went to bed asked me to check I’d set my alarm. I swore blind I’d done it but sure enough it didn’t go off. See – jinxed.
That makes you a techno-f**k-wit doesn’t it?
I only use my computer for email and I want to keep it that way. I think we should work on improving our human interaction not develop human possibility in robots.
And finally – what’s next for you?
I’m doing Lord of War with Nic Cage, Donald Sutherland and Ethan Hawke. It’s an indie film about international gun trafficking and it’s smart – a great script. I play Nic’s wife and am feeling deeply honoured at the thought of working with such a heavyweight crowd.
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