CS Interview: Theo James Discusses Archive
Gavin Rothery’s Archive is now available to rent or buy on digital platforms, and to celebrate the event ComingSoon sat down with actor Theo James to discuss the sci-fi adventure.
Here’s the plot synopsis via IMDB: “2038: George Almore is working on a true human-equivalent AI. His latest prototype is almost ready. This sensitive phase is also the riskiest. Especially as he has a goal that must be hidden at all costs: being reunited with his dead wife.”
Archive is written and directed by Gavin Rothery and stars Rhona Mitra, Theo James, Toby Jones, Stacy Martin, Peter Ferdinando and Richard Glover. The film also features an outstanding score from composer Steven Price.
ComingSoon: How did you get involved with Archive?
Theo James: Gavin and producer Phil Herd approached me with the script and I loved it. I was struck by its huge existential themes; what it is to be human, the concept of the soul and that inexplicable moment between life and death.
CS: How different is Archive from other films that you’ve done?
James: Different. It’s pretty much a man and his Robots.
CS: The film is a visually dazzling sci-fi adventure along the lines of Ex Machina — what are some of the themes explored in the film that you found interesting?
James: I loved how deeply the story is rooted in those classic sci-fi dilemmas. If you give a machine an unlimited capacity to learn, at what point does it start to mimic human emotion. Then if a machine is able to reproduce emotion at what point does it begin to ‘feel’? If a machine can feel and exhibit all attributes that we define as human, at what point does it become human itself?
CS: How difficult was Archive to film? Because, from the looks of it, you’ve got a lot of CG, makeup, etc.
James: Actually there was very little CG relatively. The robots all had actors inside operating them. As a result they were able to perform varied and subtle performances. It also meant I was able to interact with them in the most real and natural way possible.
CS: Talk about your role, and what makes the character interesting. What personal traits did you lend the character?
James: I had zero understanding of Robotics, so I tried to educate myself…but I didn’t exactly get far, my mathematics fundamentals ended when I was sixteen. So I realised I needed to find a different way into the character. What if you lost everything and what would you do to get it back?
CS: What was it like working with director Gavin Rothery? What did he bring to the production?
James: Gavin wrote and directed the film. So he is the film in its entirety really. So many details had been conceived by him. For example, for a year before shooting, he was drinking from a coffee mug he wanted to use as a prop in the film. Just to make sure it felt lived in. That’s when I realised he had been living and dreaming every detail of this story for years.
CS: What’s next on your agenda? Any exciting projects you can share with us?
James: I was about to open a play in The West End in London when the Corona Virus started its global rampage. So theatre might be off the cards for sometime. I’ll be back to screen next. Exactly when will most likely be determined by Mr Covid.