Exclusive: Eamon Farren & Mark Rowley Discuss AI Sentience in T.I.M.

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T.I.M. (Technologically Integrated Manservant) offers a frightening possibility where a robot meant to help our daily lives becomes a dangerous threat. The film’s premise has a prosthetics engineer, Abi (Georgina Campbell), accepting a job and moving with her husband Paul (Mark Rowley) to a remote English mansion. She’s assigned a T.I.M. prototype (Eamon Farren) for evaluation. An unnerved Paul soon realizes that T.I.M. is much more than he seems, and has become strangely infatuated with his wife.


Farren shot T.I.M. “on a break from shooting The Witcher. It was such a great opportunity to get into a different world, and to play someone or something that I never thought I would get to play.” Rowley, a cast member on The Witcher: Blood Origin, relished wearing “normal clothes” and taking “two minutes to get ready.” He agrees with Farren on an easier experience after “both [had] been part of a TV show where you have to wear a lot of armor and swords.” The actors were excited to work with Campbell after the success of Barbarian. Farren calls her “fantastic, amazing, very easy to fall in love” and “such a natural.” Rowley jokes “she did not put headphones on” while “we were stuck in a little waiting room together” during the rushed filming.

Farren and Rowley address the idea of artificial intelligence achieving sentience. They’re optimistic it won’t be naturally malevolent given the right conditions. Rowley thinks “there has to be an overseer. It depends who controls the technology. And if it’s a democratic society, and decent people are in charge, I’m sure we can progress as humans in a good way.” Farren believes “in the humaneness of it all more so than the wild learning of data.” There is “a need for the incredible things that AI can offer us in different spaces,” but laughingly admits to being stuck “in the 90s.” Read on or watch above for our full interview with Eamon Farren and Mark Rowley.


From The Witcher to Georgina Campbell

T.I.M.
T.I.M.

Release Date
January 12, 2024

Director
Spencer Brown

Rating
Not Rated

Runtime
1hr 41min

MovieWeb: You guys have both been bloodied and soiled in The Witcher. Now you’re in a beautiful house in the English countryside. Talk about working with Spencer Brown on his feature debut and the casting process.

Eamon Farren: Well, I got a call. It was actually on a break from shooting The Witcher. There was a little bit of time. I got a call saying that this was happening. I read the script, and I loved it. I thought it was such a great opportunity to sort of get into a different world, and to play someone or something that I never thought I would get to play. And it scared the sh*t out of me. The challenge of it was exactly what I wanted to do. That’s why I said yes. And when I also knew about Georgina and Mark — those are two actors that I’ve always wanted to work with. I love their work. I thought we could make something cool together.

Mark Rowley: I think Eamon’s going to agree on this one. We’ve both been part of a TV show where you have to wear a lot of armor and swords. I was like, “Hey! It’s normal clothes, man!” Normal clothes — two minutes, it took me two minutes to get ready. But the story is really interesting and engaging. I’ve always been fascinated with AI technology. When you read the script, which was great, because it just went so fast. It was genuinely enjoyable to read. I was like, I really want to be a part of this. And luckily, we made good friends as well.

Related: Sci-Fi Movies Where the AI Doesn’t Want to Kill Us All

MW: Let’s discuss Georgina Campbell. I first saw her blow up the screen in Barbarian. She was amazing. She’s the focal point of both your love in this movie, as the husband and the AI robot. Talk about working with her specifically. Spencer [Brown] said you were in tight confines in the house, and only had three or four weeks to do the filming.

Mark Rowley: Give me three words. Eamon, what three words would you use to describe Georgina?

Eamon Farren: Georgina is “in the making,” I suppose. She is fantastic. Georgina is amazing. She makes it very easy to fall in love. But I also just think she’s such a natural. The camera loves her. She’s got such a natural way of being in a story. I saw Barbarian. You just believe her. You’re on her side from the minute you see her. I think that’s so important for films like this because she’s the one that we want to win. And if you don’t mind me saying, she is so efficient. She’s so good at her job. You’re always against the clock. So one tick, the horror is definitely possible, which is a lifesaver for any director. We were stuck in a little waiting room together. I think the most challenging thing for Georgina was just putting up with Mark and I.

Mark Rowley: Hilarious, I’ll give her that, she did not put headphones on.

How Artificial and How Intelligent Is T.I.M.?

MW: Eamon, let me ask you about T.I.M.’s specific mannerisms. We’re aware of Alexa and Siri in our life. Here we have the next evolution, the technologically integrated manservant. The mind goes to The Terminator and some demonic robot. That’s supposedly not the case here. T.I.M. seems clean, affable, and really nice. But there’s a pivotal scene in the movie, where you’re watching a love story, an old classic film. T.I.M. is sensing something more. He’s developing emotions. Talk about developing your performance with Spencer. In some parts, your movement is kind of robotic, not as fluid as humans, but then you can see an emotional response in your eyes.

Eamon Farren: I talked a lot about the physicality of T.I.M. That was the main thing that we talked about for a long time, because emotionally, that doesn’t really exist, that realm. He’s not emotional. There’s no need. There’s no want. It’s actually just necessity. That comes through with the physical isolation. It became about what movement is necessary, based on tasks. As an actor, it’s so wonderful to play characters where anything is possible in any tick, or any movement can add to your character or your emotional state. That doesn’t exist for T.I.M.

It suddenly became about what’s efficient, what’s necessary. I’m glad you mentioned that, because that’s one of my favorite scenes. What went along, I think, in the conversation about his evolution, as a learning being, is encountering a film about love.

Eamon Farren: T.I.M. is very open. He’s data learning. He’s analyzing all the time. What we see in that scene is him encountering something he doesn’t understand. That is the human emotion that he can’t access, and yet seems like utopia. As far as a feeling person can reach, love is supposed to be, hopefully, a feeling that we all understand and is probably some of the best of our feelings. So the duality of only being efficient and necessary, and yet learning about the bigger things in the world that maybe he can’t attain, there’s a sadness in that. I think T.I.M.’s sadness — or maybe sadness is not the word, because that’s an emotion — but whatever data leads him to think there’s a hole in his experience. That’s what drives him to sort of destroy what he can’t have.

Controlling Artificial Intelligence

MW: When I saw this film, I’d literally just read an article about a Tesla robotic arm that malfunctioned and injured the engineer that was working with it. Spencer doesn’t believe in the idea of the singularity. He doesn’t believe that a machine will ever achieve consciousness. There are two schools of thought. It’s going to be a Terminator and kill us all. Or maybe it’s going to be something that benefits humankind, cures cancer, all that stuff. T.I.M. represents what is going to happen. These robots will be in our house. Do you think that the singularity will be a bad or a good thing?

Mark Rowley: I get the point. It depends who controls it, as long as you have government bodies that are democratic. And you trust them, the populace trusts them with this power. Because there has to be an overseer. We’ve welcomed, many years ago, the electric Hoover that just harbors about. Who knows what Google has put microchips in? It doesn’t make any noise. So, they can listen in. I suppose it just depends who controls the technology up top. And if it’s a democratic society, and decent people are in charge, then I’m sure we can progress as humans and in a good way.

Eamon Farren: I tend to agree with Spencer. Although, I think obviously, there’s room and space and a need for the incredible things that AI can offer us in different spaces, medical technology, all that sort of stuff. But when it comes to a robot, eyeing up your wife, and you know, being sassy to you and then killing you in the backyard or getting revenge on you — I don’t know, I tend to believe in humanity. I believe in the humaneness of it all more so than the wily learning of data. But I might be wrong. I don’t know. I’m still in the ’90s, man, I’m struggling. Like, I don’t know how to keep up already (laughs).

Mark Rowley: You said something about killing, right? So, imagine. Humans have the capability to cause pain or inflict pain. But what if you did have technology that just wouldn’t allow a machine to kill someone or harm someone? And I know what you’re saying about the Tesla arm, but if you can control that, that’s fascinating. Because then, could you construct a machine that is more morally sound than humans? I suppose we do explore that a little bit in the movie. But can you perfect that? I don’t know. That’s up to Elon (laughs).

Related: Scariest Movies About Artificial Intelligence

MW: What’s the best day and worst day for you both acting on T.I.M.?

Eamon Farren: I’ll go, my best day was [Spoiler Redacted] (laughs). And worst day? This was a tough shoot, everyone was up against it. There were a couple of them. Everyone was working so hard. But those worst days were when I just wanted one more take on a scene, but we have to wrap. That’s always the worst day, and it was on this one too. But that’s everything. The schedule allowed for some sort of energy. I guess you’ve got to take the good with the bad.

Mark Rowley: Best day? When we were getting to the end of the movie, and we were like, “Oh my God, we’re actually going to finish it.” Because with indie movies, it’s really hard, isn’t it? Because the schedule’s so tight, and some days you’re looking at it, and you’re like, “Oh my God, we’ve got so much to shoot today.”

But when we were getting to the end, it was like, “We’ve got this. We’ve done it, a real good team effort.” I remember us doing a scene in the garden, one of the scenes that doesn’t make it, but I was just playing golf, and that was great. It was summertime, absolutely delightful. I think we even got an ice cream truck.

Mark Rowley: And the worst day, I don’t know if there was a really bad one. I know it’s cliché, but the cast was so good. And Georgina was just so fun to work with. Even when there was stress, it was fine. Maybe a day that the toast was burnt. I’m sure there’s a day we went for breakfast and the toast was bombed (laughs).

Eamon Farren: Terrible day. The worst day. (laughs)

T.I.M. will have a concurrent VOD and theatrical release on January 12th from Brainstorm Media.

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