Interview by Paul Salfen
Even by sci-fi standards, 2020 has been very strange. The most creative mind probably wouldn’t have come up with what’s going on in the current state of the world. And, of course, in the realm of film, we can’t even see any of the films we wanted to on the big screen as they were intended. But, thankfully, we’re still getting some great escapist fare at home. One of 2020’s most interesting and intriguing releases so far has been Archive, a story set in 2038 where a scientist is working on a human-equivalent AI to bring back his dead wife. It’s a story of love and loss that brings up great questions that are even more relevant in this time. Starring Theo James (Divergent) and Stacy Martin (Nymphomaniac Vol 1 &2), this 2020 selection from writer-director Gavin Rothery is sure to be one of the best of the time, even if it isn’t seen on the big screen.
Here’s more from Martin:
AMFM Magazine: We definitely needed this escapist film right about now. We really enjoyed watching it, but you must have had a great time entering into that world.
Stacy Martin: Yeah, it relies on a lot of familiar aspects of cinema and what we know in terms of storytelling, but it has definitely its own tone, that is something that Gavin is very infused by. He really created everything in this story. He just had such a wonderful vision for this world that when I met him for the first time, I was completely taken by how precise and dense it all was. He was talking about smell and memory and it kind of all felt like you just wanted to be a part of it and it was quite an exciting challenge to take on.
AMFM: What was it that was so special about him as far as his vision as a director since it was his first feature?
SM: This is his first feature but it feels so accomplished in terms of where he wanted to go with it and he definitely didn’t shy away from it being as big as it could be and that’s what I look for in directors. I want to see someone who has vision and isn’t afraid of going all out and making something the best that it could be.
AMFM: The set was striking. What do you think you’ll always remember about it?
SM: I think the film itself was such an experience in terms of even the genre – I had never done sci-fi like that before and I’ve never played a robot, so the whole experience of me working towards the character in a way was very, very different than I’m used to. Definitely something I’ll remember that struck me because everything was like a new process. But then I was so amazed by how relatable J1 and J2 were. They were versions of the robot I play, J3. Even though they’re quite clanky, their language isn’t as developed and you definitely know they’re not humans in any way but you feel for them in a way you would a really dear friend and filming their scenes and seeing the actors that were in the costumes was so incredible and even after I’d finish my day, I’d stay to watch them. How could something so simple emote so much in you? It was just really fascinating.
AMFM: You’ve had interesting career already. What advice would you give to actors or actresses going into it?
SM: It’s really tough. It’s just so hard to have perspective when you’re doing five auditions every day and every time someone may close the door on you, you have to take that on. I think the strongest piece of advice that I could give would be is to be ok saying no because there is going to be the right job. Some people take on jobs because we have bills to pay and that’s totally understandable. But especially with young actresses, we are taught to be thankful for being offered a role and if we don’t take it, it’s an insult and we’re never going to work again and I don’t think that’s helpful for any actor for cinema. I think actors are artists in their own right and we don’t have to eternally feel like we’re grateful for having enough. If you have enough it’s because you work hard, not because someone took pity on you. Don’t be afraid to say no.
AMFM: On Drew Pearson Live, I always ask people their Hail Mary Moment, the moment in their life or career where they just had to go for it and it worked out for them. What do you suppose that was for you?
SM: For me, it was definitely being cast in Nymphomaniac. That moment of receiving the phone call and my agent – who I wasn’t sure if they were going to be my agent at the time, phoned me and said, “You know, you really need to think about this. It’s a really difficult role, you don’t know what’s going to happen afterwards – it might be detrimental to your career and blah, blah, blah.” I knew I was going to do that film whether or not it was going to work out for me in this man’s mind. I knew clearly that I wanted to do it. It definitely changed everything because now it’s my job whereas before I hadn’t even contemplated being a working actor.
AMFM: What was that movie for you that made you want to get into this?
SM: I had always been very, very curious about different roles and being different people and for me, one of the ways of doing that in real life was to invent stories – to think of stories in my head. I always had a very vivid imagination. But then I remember watching Jurassic Park and I knew that dinosaurs existed but I was very taken away from normal like and my world and thinking, “Wow, filmmaking really has that power to transport you somewhere else.” I came out of that cinema thinking, “That’s what I love about storytelling” and I wanted to be part of it.
AMFM: This film brings up interesting themes like what would you do for the people you love? How far would you go? But these themes seem to be especially relevant now.
SM: Yeah, it’s definitely one of the good questions it brings up and I think it talks about the process of grieving and having to accept that one day we are all going to die. It’s such a difficult concept to grapple with and there’s something quite distracting about not being able to help a loved one or to talked to a loved one anymore and the film really tests how far you would go. Is immortality something we think we should achieve? Does consciousness after a physical death exist? All of these questions come up even though it’s cinema and not a philosophical lesson and it’s like, “Oh my God, what did I just experience?” [laughs]
AMFM: Of course we wanted to see this on the large screen but this is a strange time – but it still has an impact on the small screen.
SM:I think cinema is such a powerful tool to educate, to relate, to generate empathy, and create curiosity and with a genre like science fiction is great in these times because people want to be able to relate but they also need space because everything at the moment is so difficult and oppressing and science fiction gives a little window of escape and at the same time, there’s still a very human aspect to the film and a theme to it.
AMFM: We always enjoy seeing you in great films. What will we see you in next?
SM: Well, it depends on the pandemic to be honest. I do have a film called The Night House coming out before the end of the year and then there are a few others but all of it is confusing, really.
Archive is on demand in all streaming platforms now.