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