Gareth Edwards cast real nuclear physicists in 'The Creator'

Gareth Edwards wrote, directed and produced "The Creator." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
1 of 5 | Gareth Edwards wrote, directed and produced "The Creator." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- The Creator writer/director/producer Gareth Edwards explained how real nuclear physicists ended up in the film.

He showed three scenes from the Sept. 29 release to fans in IMAX theaters around the country, broadcast from a Los Angeles theater.


In one scene, Joshua (John David Washington) finds an artificial intelligence child, Aphie (Madeleine Yuna Voyles), in a factory. Edwards wanted to film in a real particle accelerator in Thailand but understood their reservations.

"This is a multi, multi, multi-million dollar facility with all these leading cutting edge scientists," Edwards said Tuesday.

Edwards said both the facility and the studio advised him to let it go. However, the scientists' attitude changed once the physicists learned he'd directed Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. They simply asked to be extras in the battle scene.

"Everybody in those scenes, everyone running around are nuclear physicists," Edwards said. "They really, really are and they were amazing."


The Creator takes place in 2070 after the development of A.I. has divided the world. The U.S. experiments with A.I. led to nuclear war, so they banned A.I. entirely.

Asia had no accidents and continued to develop A.I., which the U.S. views as a threat. The film has actors play fully robotic characters with the backs of their heads removed with visual effects.

Joshua is an undercover agent sent to Asia to find the creator of the A.I. When he finds Alphie, he rescues her from the Americans instead, as those nuclear physicists run from the American military.

Edwards said he did not want to spend the film's budget building sets in a studio. Instead, he used the money to travel a small film crew to locations around the world.

The crew was as small as four people in some scenes, Edwards said. Locations included the Maldives, Nepal, The Himalayas, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Tokyo.

Edwards said the small crew belied the image of a Hollywood production. Therefore, locals left them alone when they filmed in populated areas like tourist beaches.

"We didn't close that beach," Edwards said. "Not one person came over and went, 'What are you doing?' because it was just about four of us with a camera running around. It didn't look like this big massive movie."


Between the small crew and innovative use of filmmaking tools, Edwards said, he was able to give his actors more flexibility than most elaborate science-fiction movies. Edwards had a crew member hold an LED light on a pole above the actors, just like sound technicians hold a microphone.

This way, the actors could move freely through the locations and the crew could adjust. Traditionally, visual effects require rigid marks and timing.

Edwards said this technique gives The Creator "this atmosphere, this naturalism and realism that I really wanted to get where it wasn't so prescribed. You're not putting marks on the ground and saying, 'Stand there.' It wasn't that kind of movie."

When Edwards began writing The Creator in 2018, he said, A.I. seemed like a much more distant technology. Edwards said he now wishes he set the film in the present day.

"It did feel back then that this was 30 years away," Edwards said.

Real-life A.I. is unlikely to look like that of The Creator, Edwards said. Edwards acknowledged that Apple dictates much of the tech aesthetic having "won the tech war" with its popular phones, computers and music devices.

Edwards said his technology of the year 2070 evolved from Sony products like the Walkman cassette player.


"We took insect heads and then tried to make it as if that insect had been made by Sony," Edwards said. "We took products and tried to turn them into organic-looking heads. We took things like film projectors, vacuum cleaners and things like this and just messed around."

The Creator is Edwards' fourth film -- and fourth sci-fi film. His debut, Monsters, is about Earth after an alien invasion. His second film was the 2014 Godzilla remake that launched Legendary's Monsterverse.

Edwards said he is drawn to science-fiction for its potential for social commentary. Edwards said he loved The Twilight Zone because Rod Serling could address issues that were taboo in dramas.

"Science fiction says, 'What if the world had this different thing about it?'" Edwards said. "The thing you used to think was true starts to be false and you start to question things. I love that kind of storytelling."

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