Ahead of the release of the award winning British indie hit, HeyUGuys caught up with Caity Lotz to discuss her two part leading role as both human and machine. Caity took us inside her mind; the destination the future, to discuss The Machine as a tale of good versus evil that asks moral questions of its audience, creating an artificial intelligent and a transition between worlds, before finally surrendering to the audience.
Could you not describe The Machine as a simple tale of good versus evil?
Yeah, but it blurs those lines a little bit. It is definitely a story of good versus evil, but in the film you see that it is not so black and white.
Whilst early cinema romanticised morality, the cynicism of 1970s cinema ushered in a period of questioning the distinction between the black and the white, and blurred those moral boundaries. How important is it for cinema to continue to explore the grey area?
Just like art every kind of film can be appreciated. Sometimes you want hyper-realistic art, and sometimes you want to look at a beautiful and magical sunset. But I tend to prefer the films that focus on the grey area more than the others. How I see the world and in my own life it is not so black and white. It’s just more interesting because there are more layers, and no one’s telling you how you have to think – this is the good and this is the bad. Everything’s in the middle, and you have to think for yourself as to how this concerns you, how you feel, what you think is good and what you think is bad. It leads you to question your own morals and look at yourself, which is what I think great cinema should do.
Your performance gives you an opportunity to explore what it is to be human. Whilst you have to drown out certain human traits to portray the machine, your character is on a journey towards being human. It is an interesting tug of war within your character and more broadly the story itself as well as the other characters’ interaction with you.
I wanted the machine’s emotional life to be extremely human, and so for that I didn’t try and remove any humanity from her emotional life. I wanted you to feel that she wasn’t human, and so I tried to do that with the physicality of the character – her movements; her voice. The way she moves her head and the way she blinks, it is her consciously blinking. Everything that she did, she wanted to do in order to fit in and to be like a human. She wanted to be like everyone else so that she could be loved, and that is a very human thing for her to pursue.
The Machine is the bridge between the old and the new world. Whilst Vincent belongs to the old she belongs to the new, and the film is that moment of transition between the two.
Well I think when the Machine says that, she’s not being malicious and she’s not trying to not include him. It’s a factual statement. It’s going to be a new world and Toby’s just not in it. There is that sentence at the beginning where Vincent was saying to her that she’s not human and she’s not in his world. They kind of instilled into her that fact that she was different even though she wanted to be the same.
Talking with you I’m seeing the film from a different point of view. It is almost as though the human characters have passed on but they don’t remember their deaths. The Machine is reminding them of this moment where they crossed over into death. The Machine has the potential to be experienced from distinct and subjective points of view; a unique experience.
Yeah and that is always good to hear because for me that is the kind of cinema that I like; the kind of cinema you can interpret in different ways. Everyone is so different in their emotional lives. They have different thoughts and values, and so when they watch it they are going to see what they want to see, or see what they need to see.
Once the film is completed it goes out into the world where it will interact with and discover its audience. Is it essential for filmmakers and actors to understand that you have limited control over the film until the point where you send it out there into the world where it interacts with an audience who help to define the film?
As an actor I never feel like I have control over a film, because it is such a collaborative art. There are so many pieces to the puzzle, and you need all of them. So I never feel like I have control over it. I don’t think anyone does, even the director who has final edit. Once you hand it over to audiences it is going to be taken the way it is going to be taken.
The Machine is entertaining, thought provoking and emotional. How do you look back on your experience of working on the project?
I’m glad you liked it – thank you. Of the projects that I have ever worked on it is my favourite, just because it is so challenging with the two different characters. The machine was very much a transformation for me, where I really had to work to no longer feel like me anymore. It was a lot of fun. On set I really didn’t feel like me, especially when I had that weird skin suit on. I felt like a completely different being, and that’s a lot of fun because it frees you up to dive into the character and get lost in it. It was a difficult process and it was physically demanding. But I had so much fun working on it and working with Caradog James who was awesome. He’s a really cool director with a great vision, and the whole thing was just a really cool experience. I am very proud of the film.