Director(s): Neill Blomkamp
Writer(s): Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
Cast: Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, NINJA, ¥O-LANDI VI$$ER, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Sigourney Weaver and Hugh Jackman
Release Date(s)Mar 6, 2015 - Wide
Neill Blomkamp, who took us into different worlds with District 9 and Elysium, takes us into an authoritarian future patrolled by police droids in Chappie. The droids cannot be swayed from their task, that is until one of them is reprogrammed as the first robot to think and feel for itself. Hugh Jackman’s Vincent Moore sees this as a threat to humanity, while Deon Wilson, played by Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel, sees his creation as man’s last hope. Blomkamp sees Chappie’s discovery of himself as the backbone of the story. “The idea was to take something as unhuman as a robot – especially a police robot – and give him complete human characteristics, to the point that he becomes more emotional than the human characters. That’s the backbone of the irony of the movie — a police droid becomes sentient, and begins to display characteristics that are more moral, ethical, and conscientious than human beings tend to.”
Producer Simon Kinberg says Blomkamp is abe to get audiences to connect with the Sharlto Copley-voiced robot. ““He’s made an action movie that is also a dramatic character story that is also an intellectual study about what it means to be human, what it means to have intelligence. The most important thing in the film is that the audience falls in love with Chappie, that their hearts break when Chappie is hurt and are excited when he is victorious. You root for this robot.”
Copley, who recently played Stefan in Maleficent, performed all of his scenes opposite the other actors, then was replaced digitally by the FX wizards at Image Engine. In a film world where actors often play to a tennis ball representing where a CG character will be, actually being able to interact with Copley gave the scenes extra depth. “For the other actors, when you’re interacting with a real person, it all feels more real, human, textured and grounded,” says Kinberg.
Copley found the role challenging because he still had to be aware that his performance was going to be replaced by a robot’s. “It was quite interesting for me, movement wise,” he says. “I had to be very aware of every mannerism. The essence of Chappie is in how he moves and how he reacts — and not necessarily what he’s saying.”
While Chappie seems to have found his humanity, Jackman’s Moore seems to have lost his. “The best villains don’t think they’re villains,” he says. “He brings a genuine argument to the table, and he’s convinced that what he’s doing is right and necessary. What makes him a villain is his inability to lose. That trumps everything and he becomes very destructive, very angry and vengeful.”
Patel’s Deon is the polar opposite of Moore as he’s not afraid of robots and their threat to humanity. The actor’s concerns about his character disappeared when he was able to interact with Copley and two rappers turned actors from the South African group Die Anterwoord. “When I first read him, I completely related to his heart. I knew he was intensely passionate about artificial intelligence, but I was worried he might be too passive in some scenes. Then, I got to the set and I met Sharlto and NINJA and ¥O-LANDI. After meeting them, it was a natural reaction to give the character more of a backbone, to be more defensive and aggressive about his work.”
Do all the pieces work together like cogs in a robot? Find out when Chappie opens March 6th, 2015.