Could robots ever replace human actors? Automation worries just got a little fancier in Tinseltown. Those who aspire to make it big in Hollywood and other film industries already have a litany of worries to grapple with, including the statistical misery that states only 2 percent of actors make a sustainable living in the industry. But now they'll also have to wonder if an artificially intelligent bot could land a role before they ever can.
Say hello to Erica, the first robot said to be acting in a film. And it's not just any film. We're talking about a $70 million sci-fi thriller, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Here's what we know about the robotic actress who hails from Japan and sports a bob that your faves could never.
The spicy details — The creators of To The Bone and Loving Vincent are getting together to create a film where Erica, our artificially intelligent actress, plays a lead role. Not much is known about the film called b but according to The Hollywood Reporter, Erica will be in a story about a scientist who is attempting to thwart dangers that came with creating a program for the "perfect" human DNA. The unknown scientist creates Erica and now has to help her survive. Erica's actual creators, scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa, have taught her to emulate expressions, act, and respond to stimuli.
"She was created from scratch to play the role," visual effects supervisor Sam Khoze explained to The Hollywood Reporter. "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."
An actress made for COVID-19 — Automation anxieties are an understandable existential worry for many workers, including actors. But with the pandemic going on, in-person proximity carries potential health risks. A robot like Erica can provide entertainment without putting anyone's life in danger. Additionally, although it's not clear right now, Erica doesn't seem to have to be paid for her acting. Which film director would say no to that? (No offense, SAG-AFTRA.)
Still, a human is a human. And human acting brings with it an undeniable vulnerability that keeps us hooked to the plot. Could Erica effectively deliver a line like, say, Florence Pugh in Midsommar when the proverbial shit hits the fan? We'll see. For now, all we know is that Erica starts shooting in June, 2021.