Caleb Landry Jones brought a robot to life in new movie Finch

·2-min read
Photo credit: Apple
Photo credit: Apple

New Apple TV+ movie Finch gave director Miguel Sapochnik a central problem to solve: how do you shoot a movie where a robot is one of only three characters on screen?

The post-apocalyptic sci-fi stars Tom Hanks as the titular character, a robotic engineer who creates a robot named Jeff to look after his dog Goodyear when he's no longer able to (for example, if he dies).

While the character of Jeff is a CGI creation, Hanks wasn't having to act against a tennis ball on set though as Get Out star Caleb Landry Jones, who voices Jeff, was there every step of the way to form the character alongside Hanks.

"Caleb was in every single frame that Jeff is in. We made a very clear decision early on that we wanted to avoid the movie feeling like a visual effects-heavy film and that we wanted to shoot it like a family drama," Sapochnik told Digital Spy and other press.

Photo credit: Apple
Photo credit: Apple

"So we made a decision to actively ignore the issues raised by having a character that didn't exist as one of the main characters in the movie. The sensible way of doing that was to have an actor play the robot and to be there and be present in every single frame.

"It was all recorded on set at the time. We did some re-recording later on, but essentially, it was Caleb in a suit in nine-inch stilts, gloves on his hands that looked like those wooden hands that you see Jeff have, and a mask that looked like Jeff, so it gave Tom a real character to play off.

"I think that the character itself, all of the nuances, all of the little quirks that Jeff has, all of that is all Caleb. Caleb just elevated the character, so I can't really imagine what Jeff would have been without Caleb."

While the character of Jeff was developed by the actor on set, Sapochnik also revealed that the robot has a sweet inspiration of the director's daughter as they share the traits of being curious, stubborn and mischievous.

Photo credit: Karen Kuehn - Apple
Photo credit: Karen Kuehn - Apple

"I found myself stealing bits of what she's said and putting them into the script. Maybe it's my own homage to my daughter because I admire her, but it also felt like the right tone," he continued.

"I didn't want Jeff to just be a robot, Jeff needed to be a personality right from the start."

Hanks also recently explained how Finch is different to Cast Away, even though both movies see him as the only human on screen for the majority of time.

Finch will be released on Apple TV+ on Friday, November 5.

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