Transcendence marks the directorial debut of Wally Pfister, who is best known for being the longtime cinematographer of Christopher Nolan. The film stars Johnny Depp as Dr. Will Caster, an artificial intelligence observer who is looking to create a machine which possesses sentience and collective intelligence. But when he is targeted by an extremist group that opposes technological evolution, Will is forced to download his mind into a computer in order to save his life. The procedure works, but those closest to him are mixed on the outcome: Is it still Will Caster in there, or is it someone else? Whoever it is, he is gaining more and more power and putting the world in increasing peril.
It was a star studded event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, California last weekend when the cast, writer and director of Transcendence arrived for a press conference. Among those there were director Wally Pfister, screenwriter Jack Paglen, Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara and Morgan Freeman.
Together, they spoke about what drew them to the project, the role that technology plays in this day and age, what it was like working with a first time director and more.
Check it out below, and enjoy!
Johnny, when your character Will Caster becomes an image on a TV screen, did you think of the ‘80s MTV icon Max Headroom?
Johnny Depp: I did feel a little bit like Max Headroom. I guess the worst part is I liked it. I liked being in my little dark room, and they were on the other side. We couldn’t find each other sometimes. It’s all done through videotape and sound. I think this film is essentially about a man chosen by God to grow a long beard, grab a few insects, a couple of animals and know the rest of the world will be slaughtered, but the animals will come to him and follow through.
Wally Pfister: That was Noah.
Johnny Depp: That’s Noah? Oh No-ah! Sorry, I was in that one as well. I played Russell Crowe. That beard was a bitch too, seriously.
Your character seems to age backwards in this movie.
Johnny Depp: That’s (The Curious Case of) Benjamin Button. I was in that one too, as Brad Pitt.
What are your thoughts on artificial intelligence?
Johnny Depp: I thought there was something very beautiful to Wally Pfister’s idea of the sort of disintegration of the character, and to really watch him slowly kind of go out. That was well researched by Wally. It was pretty much the progression – to be uploaded and finally brought to this. Essentially, I suppose once he’s inside PINN, he could become anything. One of the things, hopefully, that came across as he became brighter, is that he became the version of Will that Evelyn wants to see, as opposed to the Will who can’t button his shirt correctly, and all that.