Monday, March 31, 2003

Watch Hollywood screw up the classics of sf, part 765

I see that Bridget Moynahan has been cast in the film of Isaac Asimov's I. Robot, as "a psychologist specializing in robot minds". This seems clearly to be the character of Dr Susan Calvin, who is actually the most important character in Asimov's book, although it sounds like she is playing second fiddle to another character played by Will Smith in the movie. This profoundly disappoints me.

Why? Well the character of Dr Susan Calvin in the book is, shall we say, rather severe. She is someone who does not see herself as being sexually attractive and who instead chooses to be intellectually formidable, and who at least tries to convince other people of the fact that she is interested in robots than people. (The irony is that this of course makes her more human rather than less). It is not necessary to cast someone unattractive in the part, but the role must be played without a hint of glamour of any kind. And casting a young and conventionaly pretty female star in the movie (even one like Moynahan who actually can act) is completely wrong. I can't imagine her being able to play correctly the intellectual fearsomeness that is inherent in the character. I would rather someone older, and with more interesting looks. (Thinking about it, I am rather hit by the idea that Meryl Streep could be great in the part. Emily Watson, too, for that matter). I suppose, though, that complaining that Hollywood casts young and attractive actresses in female roles is missing the point of Hollywood entirely. I just really wish that they don't mess this one up.

As I have commented before, I greatly like the work of Alex Proyas, who is making the I. Robot film. However, I have seen Hollywood rip out the emotional heart of one previous Asimov work, due to the story either being too subtle for the filmmakers to understand or too subtle for what they thought their viewers were going to want to watch, and I really don't want to see this happen again.

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