Director Tony Kaye is looking to cast a robot — no, not an actor playing a robot, but an actual automaton — in his next movie.
The movie is called 2nd Born and according to Deadline, Kaye is looking to utilize a physical robot with artificial intelligence to play a lead role in the project. The goal is to train the A.I. in various acting techniques and have it recognized as a legitimate performer by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).
It's not clear what the role is, but what's odd is that 2nd Born on the surface does not seem to be a genre film. In fact, it's a sequel to a movie titled 1st Born, an independent comedy about two families, one Iranian and one American, coming together to help save the new grandchild they both share.
As for 2nd Born, does Kaye want the robot to play the baby, or another role? Whichever it is, apparently Kaye and his producers want to "forgo the use of computer-generated effects" and create the character with the robot instead. Perhaps he wants the robot to take the place of an actor who's not returning for the follow-up, although a number of cast members from the first film are expected to come back.
Kaye himself is somewhat of a maverick and eccentric. After launching his career by directing acclaimed videos for Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soul Asylum and Roger Waters, he made his feature directorial debut with American History X, a drama about two brothers caught up in the neo-Nazi movement.
Kaye famously battled the studio, New Line Cinema, and star Edward Norton over the film's final cut, taking out 35 full-page ads in industry trade papers to denounce them and demanding in the end that his name be taken off the credits and replaced with "Humpty Dumpty" (it wasn't). His other film projects include an abortion documentary called Lake of Fire, an unreleased and unfinished crime drama titled Black Water Transit, and a drama about education called Detachment.
Advancements in motion capture, CG and even holograms are slowly but surely changing what it means to be a performer, with humans able to transform into realistic apes onscreen or late actors being brought back to cinematic life. But the use of an artificial intelligence to deliver a complete performance is uncharted territory. Tony Kaye may not be making a sci-fi movie as far as we know, but the way he's going about it could be the basis of one itself.