Don’t fear the technology. Focus all that techno-anxiety instead on what technology has to teach us about ourselves, when our ill-conceived use of it goes horribly awry.
That’s the message that runs through two of Jodie Foster’s most recent projects, the legendary actor/director said in a recent interview covering her work on Netflix’s Black Mirror (as director) and the forthcoming Hotel Artemis (as a principal actor).
Speaking with Deadline for a deep look at both her directorial turn for the Netflix anthology, as well as her role playing a very different sort of hospital caregiver in the dystopian Hotel Artemis, Foster said she hopes viewers come away convinced that it’s not that technology is bad — it’s just that it holds up a, ahem, mirror that invites us to see the worst of our natures.
“It’s not about technology; it’s about people, and how technology just shows you their failings, and shows you what they’re made of,” Foster said of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror series, for which she directed the Season 4 episode “Arkangel.”
“Although a lot of [episodes] are about the same themes — sort of technology, and how it brings out who we really are… each one of them is different,” she explained. “I feel my film feels like a little indie. And I wanted it to have that humility and that reality, that ‘groundedness’ — which is a little bit different than the rest of the Black Mirrors.”
“Arkangel” follows a young woman from birth through her teen years, all under the watchful eye of her mother, who’s constantly able to track her daughter thanks to a future-tech implant that allows her to see what her offspring is doing — anywhere, at any time.
That sort of tech-enabled voyeurism, even in the name of safety, resonates with Foster — an actor who grew up in the limelight and never stepped out of it — in a very personal way.
“I don’t know who I am, in some ways, without being watched,” she confessed. “And that was very similar to the little girl in ‘Arkangel.’ That persona that evolves out of constantly being safe… because you’re always being monitored… because there’s this attention on you.”
Relying on the security afforded by technological advancements both real and imagined also permeates Hotel Artemis, a sci-fi thriller about a noir-era hospital set in a retro version of Los Angeles that’s mysteriously kitted out with groundbreaking tech to help heal arms dealers, assassins, bank robbers, and other high-level criminals. Foster plays The Nurse (aka Jean Thomas), who calls the shots at the movie's super-secret ER.
Saying Hotel Artemis bears more than a passing similarity to Black Mirror’s overarching subject matter, Foster called Hotel Artemis “one of the most original movies I’ve made in a long time.”
You can catch “Arkangel” and all the rest of the Black Mirror anthology over at Netflix, while waiting for Hotel Artemis to hit theaters. The Drew Pearce-directed thriller is on track for a June 8 release.