You may recognise the name Stacy Martin, she’s a talented young actress who has starred in films such as “Nymphomaniac: Vol. I” (2013), “High Rise (2015), “All the Money in the World” (2017)and one of my personal favourite films of 2018 “Vox Lux”. Martin’s most recent role is perhaps one of her most challenging yet, playing the character of Jules, a robot called J3 and providing the voice for another A.I. in Gavin’s Rothery’s “Archive”. However, this is a challenge that Martin is more than willing and capable of undertaking. On behalf of ITOL I managed to catch up with her to discuss the challenges of playing a robot, what attracted her to the role and what draws her to play such complex characters.
Bianca: Hi Stacy, thanks for joining me today. Firstly, I want to say how much I enjoyed your performance in “Archive”. What was it about the story of “Archive” that appealed to you and how did you become attached to the film?
Stacy: I met with Gavin Rothery (the director) about three weeks before they started shooting so it was pretty last minute in terms of getting attached to the project. I loved the way that Gavin was so passionate about the film and how it would look and how a lot of the special effects were going to be practical. There was some CGI but he really wanted it to be as practical as possible, which really piqued my curiosity. I read the script and I wondered how it would all work in terms of how I would play J3, Gavin was so clear and precise in terms of who J3 was in relation to Jules.
It was something that I’d never done before so I knew I just had to do it. Another big part of my decision to join the film was the fact that I’ve never had the opportunity to play a robot and it’s been one of my dreams to play one. This role was so different from anything else I’ve ever done. To go through that process of costume and make-up and seeing how that can interact so much with character work was something I was completely fascinated by.
Bianca: I love how you were able to play these different characters (Jules and J3, as well as providing the voice for J2) and be able to present them with their own unique personalities and characteristics. How easy was it to get into the mindset of a robot, because essentially you’re playing something that’s trying to intimate a human?
Stacy: It was definitely something I was very cautious about as I didn’t want it to be a generalised interpretation of a robot. With J3 I wanted to make sure with all the prosthetics and make-up involved that they were at a certain level that the viewer could easily connect with so I could focus on the emotional aspects of this character and how she lived and reacted to certain things such as not having any legs. And, when she transitions into a more human form, I saw that as someone who is slowly learning again after suffering from memory loss, building up on who you are and what sensations feel like.
“It was something that I’d never done before so I knew I just had to do it…This role was so different from anything else I’ve ever done.”
Bianca: What I really admire about your catalogue of work (Stacy has starred in films such as “Nymphomaniac”, “Vox Lux” and “High Rise”) is that you play these really complex female characters. What is about these types of characters that you find so compelling?
Stacy: With these types of characters they always elude me at first, and when I’m reading a script I’m thinking to myself “who is this person and why are they doing what they’re doing?” and I’m also reacting to whether I’m feeling angry or happy about what they’re doing. There has to be a sense of curiosity and vulnerability.
In terms of the roles that I do there’s a sense of failure to these characters, that these are human beings trying to navigate their way through difficult situations. How one character will react will be very different to how I would react in a similar situation, but we have to allow for that difference. The more questions I have about a character and their motivations then the more willing I am to take on that particular role.
Bianca: What would you want viewers to take away from your performance in “Archive”?
Stacy: I think ultimately what I found so interesting about J3 is this notion that she is perpetually trying to figure out who she is, and I think that’s something as humans we’re always grappling with. What Gavin has done with using the sci-fi genre is that he makes it so clear about how many questions we (as humans) have about ourselves in terms of who we are and what we want from life.
“The more questions I have about a character and their motivations then the more willing I am to take on that particular role.”
What I think is great about J3 and her quest is that she’s learning who she is despite having issues with her memories and sensations, so she’s very strong-willed in that regard. For me, that was something I always wanted to show, just because you may be vulnerable or weak that doesn’t mean that you’re not strong willed. I think “Archive” really adds to the debate around A.I. in terms of what it is and how it can be implemented into a part of human life, and it also makes you question a lot of ethics around the way we live. The film is it’s whole philosophy lesson!
ARCHIVE is released via Vertical Entertainment in Theaters, On Demand and Digital on July 10, 2020