On the continuum of filmmakers who’ve expressed their opinions on A.I., Elizabeth Banks is about as far from the Russo brothers as one can get; that is to say, she’s not interested in putting an A.I. script to screen anytime, anywhere.
Speaking with Deadline ahead of the opening of her new thriller Dreamquil at the Cannes Market, Banks says she was “heartbroken” on behalf of striking writers, who have not been able to move the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to “agree that AI should not be used for creative purposes.”
“As an artist in Hollywood, we export and create culture. And I think we’ve made incredible strides in breaking down the gatekeeping of our industry and presenting underrepresented voices and new ideas. We’ve made so much progress,” Banks shares. “The idea that we would essentially use AI to create that culture based on all the biases of the cultures that have come before — because that’s what the AI will learn from — I find that terrifying.”
Dreamquil—which Banks stars in alongside John C. Reilly—grapples directly with the idea of an AI-driven world. Set in a dystopic near-future, the film follows dissatisfied housewife Carol (Banks) who attends an AI-based mental health retreat, only to return home and find her husband Gary has been keeping up at home with the help of Carol-Too, a robot who becomes fixated on fully replacing Carol. Although full-scale robot replacements may still seem like just another sci-fi trope, Banks makes it clear that creators standing strong against rampant AI will be a key tool in stopping (or at least, putting off) that reality.
“We have to hold the line as a community. I include the producers and the studios in that community,” Banks concludes. “AI is going to be a tool. There’s no doubt about it. It’s coming fast and furious. But I would like it to be a tool used by the writers and not the studios to replace the writers. And once that horse is out the barn, I don’t know why anybody believes their job isn’t next.”