MARJORIE PRIME | Jon Hamm talks artificial intelligence in a sci-fi with real heart…
At the end of the film, some people are comforted and some are creeped the fuck out!” jokes Jon Hamm. Talking to Teasers at the Sundance Film Festival in January, the one-time Mad Man understands why his new movie, Marjorie Prime, might divide audiences. After all, he plays a hologram of a dead man who’s able to interact with Marjorie (Lois Smith) in a devastatingly lifelike way.
Based on the play by Jordan Harrison (in which Smith also starred) and set in the not-too-distant future, the film sees Hamm playing a Prime version of Walter, Marjorie’s recently deceased husband. Like the best AI, Walter can learn through his interactions, but is he really helping or just interrupting Marjorie’s grieving? “We’ve all had moments where we’ve asked these questions about death and had these difficulties with parents and grandparents,” says director Michael Almereyda (Experimenter and the Ethan Hawke version of Hamlet).
Unsurprisingly, everybody reacts differently to Walter. Marjorie finds his presence a comfort, but her daughter (Geena Davis) is less receptive, branding the Prime creepy. “I don’t know if I would
find it comforting or not,” muses Hamm. “But I’m an optimist. There’s the Black Mirror and Ex Machina darkness side of sci-fi, but I like being hopeful about the future.”
It’s not all doom and gloom. Almereyda stayed true to much of the play’s sly humour, including the conversation between Walter and Marjorie about a film they used to love watching together – romcom classic My Best Friend’s Wedding. “Jordan put in that movie, which I hadn’t seen,” Almereyda reveals. “I said, ‘Is this an important movie?’ He said, ‘No, it’s just a silly ’90s comedy, I wanted something light.’ Then I watched it and I was very moved by it. It’s about not getting what you want.”
ETA | 3 NovEmbEr / mArjoriE PrimE oPENs NExT moNTh.
John Hamm as back-from-the-dead husband Walter.