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Interview: Actress Caity Lotz talks ‘The Machine,’ ‘Arrow,’ and more

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The Machine,” which releases to select theaters on April 25, is a futuristic thriller in which Britain is suffering its deepest recession, as it squares off against China in a new Cold War. Vincent (Toby Stephens) is a scientist who works on restoring wounded soldiers’ severed limbs with advanced artificial intelligence, and resurrects those killed in action to turn them into fully conscious robots.

When his last experiment goes awry, Vincent enlists the help of Ava (Lotz), another scientist in the field, to create the first ever, self-aware artificial intelligence. But the Ministry of Defense sees it as an opportunity to turn this machine into an ultimate defense weapon in its battle against China.

The Chico Movie Examiner recently conducted an over-the-phone interview with Lotz about the film and her performance as Ava. Lotz is also known for her work as Sara Lance/Black Canary in “Arrow.”

In this exclusive interview, Lotz also talks about how artificial intelligence might be in the future, and what fans can expect in the final episodes of “Arrow” this season. Check it out below.

David Wangberg: Before I start talking about “The Machine,” I wanted to say that, first off, I enjoyed the movie. And when I was doing my research, I saw that you and I have something in common. We were both born on December 30.

Caity Lotz: Oooh!

DW: I was born in 1984, so I’m a couple years older. But I was kind of curious, when it comes to having a birthday so close to the holidays, do you celebrate all three days, or do you do it in one day? How do you do it with it being so close to the holidays?

CL: I usually have a party on the 29th, because nobody wants to party on the 30th, because the next night is New Year’s Eve. So, I always have my birthday party on the 29th and do it that way. But it does kind of suck. I need a birthday six months after Christmas. That’s when you’re like, “Oh, I need my parents to buy me some presents.” [laughs]

DW: Actually, with a lot of the jobs, like in retail and banking, they take the two days off for Christmas and the two days off for New Year’s. Do you guys do that, too, with filming, or do you get two whole weeks off?

CL: Yeah, we usually get two weeks off for Christmas break.

DW: I thought so, but I wanted to check. I didn’t know how some people work with their filming schedules.

And I also saw that you were a dancer. Are you more into hip hop dancing, or do you do ballroom, like waltz, tango, and nightclub?

CL: No, I never really did partner dancing. I mean, I did it a little bit, but that was never my thing. I did contemporary and jazz types, and then I got into hip hop and breaking.

DW: And I saw in an interview that you and Caradog [James] did with the UK Telegraph that he had read just about every book he could find on artificial intelligence and robots and quantum mechanics. For you, when you were preparing for the role of Ava, did you go through as many books as you could on those subjects, so you could get a better understanding of her when she becomes the machine?

CL: No, I didn’t need to. I definitely read a little bit about robotic spectrums and tried to understand what a quantum computer was, because he talks a lot about it in the film. It’s confusing, but I read a little about that, and tried to see what they had with robotics and the kind of movements they could create and what people thought a machine would be like if there was one.

But for most of it, I found that no one knows what it will be like, and that can use a lot of imagination. But there was some interesting stuff about it. People would say things like, if you were able to create a conscious brain in the computer, the computer would go crazy, because it would be stuck in a box. It wouldn’t be able to do anything physically. There’s no sense of perception, and they’ll feel like they’re stuck in a box.

DW: Did you get a chance to see the Joaquin Phoenix film, “Her?”

CL: I did. Yeah.

DW: Do you think, in the future, we’re going to have AI be in that format, or in this format with Ava being more human?

CL: I think the machine like Scarlett Johansson [in “Her”] would happen before ours, because that is basically the first step of an android. It’s creating that conscious thing and then actually being able to put it in a body would be the next step, which is what “The Machine” is.

DW: One of the things about the machines in this film, and a lot of other films, is that they all have human-like characteristics, but they all have flaws, like humans do. If you had the opportunity to make a machine version of you, would you include all of your flaws, or would you do away with them to see how you would look without any flaws?

CL: Are you suggesting that I have flaws? I’m kidding. [laughs]

DW: [laughs]

CL: I don’t know. Do you mean to look like people’s idea of beauty? Is that what you mean?

DW: I mean, like, if you didn’t make any mistakes. It would be perfect, the most intelligent…

CL: So mentally and physically?

DW: Yeah, mentally, physically, and everything.

CL: Well, then it wouldn’t be you, anymore. It gets to the point of: Do you want to make a machine version of you? [laughs]

DW: Yeah, true.

CL: Or do you want to make something else? Because, it wouldn’t look like you, and it wouldn’t act like you.

DW: Yeah, it would look like you, but it would not have the same thinking process and all that.

CL: I guess I already know what it’s like to be me. I could try to get a sense of what it feels to be like someone else, or else, I’d be me again. [laughs]

DW: In the film, when Ava gets the job, the first thing that happens to her is she gets arrested. That’s kind of a rough way to start your new job. What’s the most interesting first day experience you’ve had on either a film set or any job that you had before you became an actress?

CL: I started working as a dancer, when I was about 17. And I have a pretty bad Vegas story, when I was 18 years old. [laughs]

I’m showing up to rehearsal, and the people took me out to somewhere. And I swear, I was drugged or something, because I was so sick the next day. I was 18 years old, and in Vegas, and we had dance rehearsals the next day. And I was so sick, I couldn’t even … it was so embarrassing. It was the first day of rehearsal, and, of course, the 18-year-old in Vegas is super hungover. I swear, I think I was drugged or something, because it was so bad.

DW: Over the years, we’ve had a lot of iconic robots, like Terminator, RoboCop, and T-1000 from “Terminator 2.” If you could have Ava go against one of these robots, who would you like to see her fight?

CL: Any of them – just take them all. I really think the machine in this film is pretty cool compared to the Terminator and stuff like that. It’s different. And I think it’s different because she’s the most emotional out of all of them. In a fight, I feel like I don’t know – Terminator’s pretty bada**.

DW: Now, what if you put her against your character in “Arrow?”

CL: I don’t know, because the machine right now, I feel like she doesn’t want to fight. She is kind of bulletproof, but I don’t know. But the machine might already have the upper hand, because she is a machine.

DW: Yeah, that is true. Now, I’ve got one more question for you, and it’s in regards to “Arrow.” There are a few episodes left of the season. Without giving too much away, what can fans expect in these last couple of episodes?

CL: It’s going to be good. There’s a lot of change, a lot of things happening. [There are] big changes for characters, which is pretty cool and exciting. And, of course, the finale is going to be good.

This concludes the interview, but the Chico Movie Examiner would like to thank Caity Lotz for taking the time to talk about “The Machine.”

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