Jennifer Lopez on why she was unafraid to tackle her new role in Atlas

A futuristic dilemma.
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She once wanted to keep it real as Jenny from the Block, but now Jennifer Lopez is chasing a rogue robot on another planet in sci-fi action flick Atlas.

“You really have to be unafraid to look ridiculous a lot of the time,” Jennifer, 54, tells TV WEEK. “But at the same time, it’s why you become an actor – to play make-believe and have it be kind of true, but also bigger than life. There’s something about that that makes it so enjoyable for me.” 

(Image: Netflix)

Jennifer’s character, Atlas, is a data analyst with limited social skills and a deep distrust of artificial intelligence. Despite those misgivings, she joins a mission with renegade robot Smith (voiced by Gregory James Cohan) to save humanity from an evil AI force, Harlan (Simu Liu). As a result, Jennifer had a lot of solo scenes. 

“I was shooting in this pod the entire time,” Jennifer explains. “But there was a lot of heightened emotion and physicality within that pod that went on that was fun.

“I’m an athletic person, so I like the physicality of it, and I love the relationship between Atlas and Smith – I think it was really moving.” 

(Image: Netflix)

As Harlan, Simu, who viewers might recognise as one of the many Kens in blockbuster film Barbie, had a good time playing the villain for a change. 

“Villains are really fun to play because you get to be a little bit more unhinged or, in Harlan’s case, a little bit more robotic and unhuman,” Simu, 35, says. “It was fun to do something different and build a character from the ground up and go toe-to-toe with this one: J.Lo.” 

Simu thinks the premise of Atlas is quite eerie – in our digital age, the plot could in fact become a reality. 

“Today we run a risk of allowing things like AI, data and algorithms to make decisions for us,” he notes.

“A main technological message of the movie is that we have to proceed with caution in this area. AI and technology are always meant to enhance our lives – it’s never meant to lead.”

With Harlan representing the worst-case scenario of what happens when you put a robot that doesn’t possess human emotions such as empathy in control, it begs the question – will AI take over the world? And by the time humankind realises, will it be too late?

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