John Hanlon Reviews


‘Ex Machina’ director on his vision for Ava

Posted in: General, Interview, The Credits  |  By: John Hanlon  |  April 17th, 2015
Alex Garland on the set of 'Ex Machina"

In his directorial debut, this site Alex Garland crafted a thriller that is small in scope but large in imagination. The film is entitled Ex Machina and focuses on three characters who spend several days together in a secluded home. In the movie, Domhnall Gleeson stars as a programmer who is tasked by his boss (played by Oscar Isaac) with testing out his latest creation.

The creation is an artificially-intelligent robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander), whose mind is as sharp as they come but whose body resembles both a robot and a human.

During a recent interview with the director, I asked him about his priorities in crafting Ava. Here’s his response:

I’d just come off the back of this film Dredd and you always react against the thing you were just working on, and in Dredd, the protagonist has half his face covered the entire movie. In some ways, that’s kind of cool and fun but also after you’ve done a whole movie like that, you don’t want to do it again. So the first thing I knew was that Ava had to have a completely human face, and all the nuances that the actress wanted to put in there, we needed to be able to capture so right off the bat, that was the starting point.

But then there’s a bunch of other things like she had to be very obviously a machine. Maybe she could be a girl wearing a robot suit, because then the story would carry this floating possibility that, ‘Hey that’s not really a robot,’ so she had to unambiguously be a robot. So the first time you see her, there’s no doubt about what she is, but also the mesh — there’s mesh over her — so the way to make sure that she seems like she’s a machine is having these missing sections of her body which, if that was a human, they’d be dead cause they’d have no internal organs. So you clearly demonstrate that, but then the mesh over that form means that even though you can see she’s a machine sometimes the light will glance off her leg or her midriff and you’ll see that she has the shape and the curves of a girl in her early 20s. As soon as you see she’s a machine, you also start pulling away. Your sense of her gets pulled away from her being a machine.

Check out the full interview here.