A New Sci-Fi Movie Will Star an Artificially Intelligent Robot Named Erica, Programmed in Method Acting

A lot of people are wondering how safe it will be for Hollywood to get back to work in the age of the coronavirus, especially since we’re still very much in the first wave and the number of cases in the United States has been rising. An upcoming sci-fi production will make things slightly safer for the cast and crew, because one of the lead roles will be taken by a robot named Erica, who has been created to simulate method acting through artificial intelligence.

No, this isn’t a joke.

The Hollywood Reporter has news on the movie starring a robot actress named Erica, which is being financed by Bondit Capital Media (To the Bone, Loving Vincent), Happy Moon Productions in Belgium, and Ten Ten Global Media in New York. The movie is called b, and it’s a full fledged $70 million production that will be the first to use an artificially intelligent robot as an actor.

Though the movie might feel like a gimmick, the story does allow for such a technological creation to be weaved seamlessly into the story. Eric Pham, Tarek Zohdy, and Sam Khoze came up with the premise about a scientist who discovers dangers associated with a program he created to perfect human DNA, so he decides to help the artificially intelligent woman he designed to escape. While that part could be played by an actress, seeing an actual robot in the role just sounds wild.

Erica (which you can see an image of over here) was created by Japanese scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa as part of their general studies in robotics. In order to prepare her for this movie, they had to teach her to act by meshing the principles of method acting with artificial intelligence. But how does a robot utilize method acting when they have no memories or real life experience? Sam Khoze, who is also a producer on the movie, explained:

“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.”

However, it will be awhile before we see Erica on screen. Though producers already shot some footage of the robot for the movie back in 2019, there’s no director or human co-stars attached to the production yet. The hope is that they will get all that lined up in the future and the rest of the movie will be shot in Europe in June of 2021.

This apparently wasn’t the first project that Erica was slated to star in. American History X director Tony Kaye had intended to use the robot actress in a completely different movie, but the producers left the project after some scheduling concerns arose. That makes Erica more in-demand than some real actors working today, which is both impressive and depressing. It’ll be even more depressing when Hollywood starts replacing actors and actresses with robots because they don’t age, have zero scandals, and probably won’t walk off the set in anger. Then again, that’s exactly what the robots would want us to think as they plot their uprising. So prepare to be taken over by robot method actors who can’t wait to tell you how great their audition was.

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