Geena Davis and Jon Hamm con­verse with the de­ceased in heart­felt sci-fi Mar­jorie Prime...

SFX - - Red Alert -

There’s a rea­son Geena Davis is ex­cited about the prospect of be­ing able to talk to a holo­gram that can take the shape of any­body, dead or alive. “It can look like Jon Hamm!” the ac­tress jokes. Chat­ting to Red Alert at the Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val, she’s dis­cussing her new film, Mar­jorie Prime, a brain-tapping sci-fi set in the near fu­ture. Her char­ac­ter’s mother, Mar­jorie (Lois Smith of True Blood), is com­forted by a holo­graphic “Prime” ver­sion of her dead hus­band.

And yes, that “Prime” is played by Jon Hamm. Adding to the canon of big-screen AIs, Hamm’s ver­sion of a robot is sur­pris­ingly staid. “There’s a lot of still­ness in Don Draper as well,” Hamm says of his Mad Men char­ac­ter, “and it’s a chal­lenge to do noth­ing and be in­ter­est­ing, which sounds like a con­tra­dic­tion. A lot of ac­tors feel like un­less you’re chew­ing the scenery and tear­ing down walls, then you’re not re­ally act­ing.”

So did he look at Ali­cia Vikan­der in Ex Machina or Sch­warzeneg­ger in The Ter­mi­na­tor for in­spi­ra­tion? “‘No’ is the short an­swer,” Hamm re­veals, “but there was a thought process that I went through that was about try­ing to be as neu­tral as pos­si­ble, es­pe­cially at the be­gin­ning of the film. Ide­ally there’s an evo­lu­tion as the Prime gath­ers more in­for­ma­tion it be­comes more and more ef­fec­tive in its por­trayal of hu­man.”

Di­rected by Michael Almereyda and adapted from a play by Jor­dan Har­ri­son, Mar­jorie Prime ex­am­ines the pain of loss and tech­nol­ogy’s po­ten­tial abil­ity to help a per­son grieve. “Could this in­ter­rupt the griev­ing process?” muses Davis. “You stop at de­nial be­cause they’re still here! I think some peo­ple buy a pet like the one they just had, so you don’t ever have to get over the death of the one be­fore...” Ex­pect to be moved.

Mar­jorie Prime is out in cin­e­mas on 3 Novem­ber.

Can the real Jon Hamm please stand up?

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