2nd born

The end is nigh. Humanity’s reign of terror is almost at an end. Let the robot revolution begin! American History X filmmaker Tony Kaye has found the lead for his next film, and here’s the thing: it’s a robot. Kaye wants to cast a robot as the lead actor in his film 2nd Born, and also hopes the robot will get SAG recognition.

I’m not making any of this up, by the way.

We all knew it was only a matter of time before robots replaced us. Now, these sentient buckets of bolts are making their way to Hollywood. Deadline says Tony Kaye wants a robot to play the lead character in his new film 2nd Born, a sequel to the indie comedy 1st Born, directed by Ali Atshani and starring Val Kilmer, Tom Berenger, Greg Grunberg, Jay Abdo, Taylor Cole, Reza Sixo Safai, William Baldwin, Denise Richards and Robert Knepper.

1st Born, which will be released later this year, “centers on a young married couple, Iranian born Ben (Safai) and American Kate, whose complicated first pregnancy forces their extended family, from differing backgrounds, to find common ground for the sake of the baby.”

So what does this have to do with robots? Nothing, apparently!

Let’s review how strange this is:

  • Tony Kaye is making a sequel to someone else’s movie – a movie that hasn’t even been released yet.
  • Tony Kaye wants to cast a robot as the lead character in this movie.
  • The movie doesn’t seem to be about robots.

When Stanley Kubrick was working on A.I., he famously wanted to have an actual robot to play the robot boy at the heart of the story. Ultimately, he abandoned the idea because the technology just wasn’t there yet. When Steven Spielberg took over, he wisely cast a human to play the character. Still, Kubrick’s reasoning made some sort of sense – he was making a movie about a robot, so why not try to cast an actual robot? But Kaye’s 2nd Born apparently has nothing to do with robots at all.

Kaye infamously clashed with Edward Norton while making American History X. The feud between Kaye and Norton got very ugly, with the director taking out 35 full-page ads in the Hollywood trade publications denouncing Norton. Per Wikipedia, Kaye then “attended a meeting at New Line to which (to ease negotiations) he brought a Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi and a Tibetan monk. When the company offered him an additional eight weeks to re-cut the film, he said he’d discovered a new vision and needed a year to remake it, and flew to the Caribbean to have the script rewritten by the Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott. Finally, when the Directors Guild refused to let him remove his name from the New Line version of the film, he demanded it to be credited to ‘Humpty Dumpty’ instead, and filed a $200 million lawsuit when the company refused.”

The American History X incident derailed Kaye’s career for a bit, but he eventually made more films, including Detachment and the abortion documentary Lake of Fire. Maybe, just maybe, the incident with Norton is behind this 2nd Born idea. Maybe Kaye is still so bothered at having clashed with his leading man that he’s more willing to work with a robot than a temperamental actor.

Whatever the reasoning, this is bound to upset some actors. As technology has advanced to create digital characters in movies, actors have grown apprehensive, worried that they might one day be replaced. If Kaye really is able to cast an honest to god robot in his movie, it’ll be a realization of everything actors have feared.

Per Deadline, “Kaye is aiming to cast a real robot, who will be trained in different acting methods and techniques. The idea, which originated from Kaye and producer Sam Khoze, is to forgo the use of computer-generated effects in favor of a physical A.I. robot as an actor, who they are hoping will get SAG recognition.” Good luck with all that!

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