A dancer turned martial artist turned actor, Caity Lotz landed her first acting role on “Mad Men” and hasn’t stopped since. By night she prowls the streets of Starling City as Black Canary on “Arrow”, but before that she was tackling artificial intelligence and the Ministry of Defence in Caradog W. James’ science fiction thriller “The Machine”. Check out Drew’s review here.
Mandy spoke with Caity about the future of artificial intelligence, the shortage of leading female roles in Hollywood, and who would win in a fight, Black Canary or The Machine. You know, all the important things.
Firstly congratulations on “The Machine”. It was nice to see a great science fiction film again, and I loved its visual style – particularly since I imagine there wasn’t a whole lot of budget to play with. So how does one research how to play a machine? I imagine there’s no guide books or personal experience to draw from…
Caity: Awesome thank you. With the machine I think it really comes down to the physical embodiment, the movement. I wanted her to move without emotions. Her face wouldn’t express naturally, she had to consciously learn how to move her face and express those things. It’s not like a machine’s eyes are alive but she would blink, like she was trying to find the liquid that humans need out of necessity, but she would do it out of a conscious desire. It was just finding identifying little things that would reflect human emotions. She was without humanity but she was very emotional.
It was fascinating the way she studied people, she almost kind of came across as an anthropologist of human culture – hopefully a culture that wasn’t about to go extinct. There’s a lot of dialogue and stories and worry around the A.I. thing and machines taking over the world – do you think this Machine would look after us humans?
Caity: You know I don’t think it’s going to be like one day they’re going to create something like The Machine, If anything I think it’s going to be humans are going to become more like machines, kind of merge in a way. So parts of our body or an organ that fails will be replaced and we’re all going to be more like them, like a weird hybrid. That’s intense [laughs].
Well I’m already attached to my Smartphone so I think that’s the first machine body part I have. Tell me, what is scarier – doing stunts or being wrapped in plastic as The Machine is unveiled for the first time? It looked like you couldn’t breathe.
Caity: Yeah actually I couldn’t [laughs]. The mask was consuming but obviously they didn’t leave it on for too long. That shoot actually was really fun, really sexy and in the body suit it was cool. I liked it.
You have a background in both dance and martial arts, which do you think is more helpful when doing stunts?
Caity: Well I danced a lot longer than I did martial arts. I love dancing. So I think dance helped me do martial arts because if I hadn’t danced it would have been a lot harder to pick up. I guess dance was kind of the basics for me but then it’s good to have that martial arts training for those more violent moves.
I love that your career has been pretty non-traditional in that you came to acting a little bit later and acquired all these awesome dancing and fighting skills in the meantime. I don’t know of any other actresses that have that kind of triple threat – although they might be around. I know some male actors also do their own stunts but I was recently reading a study from San Diego University that found only 15 per cent of protagonists and 29 per cent of major characters in the top 100 films last year were female. To me that is really sad. Do you find that there are more leading/challenging female roles out there or is that something you kind of have to try to create for yourself?
Caity: You’re totally right. You’re the only female interviewer I’ve talked to for this film and the guys never bring that up [laughs]. But yeah it is a thing. I didn’t really notice it before because I’ve been really blessed getting these really cool roles, but now I read these scripts and I just think ‘I want to play the guy character. That’s the one I want to play’. They are the cool characters and Hollywood generally doesn’t write for women very well. There was an event for women’s rights recently and they flipped the cards and had men read women’s roles and vice versa, and the guys were like ‘oh this is so boring. I don’t get to do any fun stuff’, and it’s so true. It’s not fair and they should change it. It’s not equal at all. I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve been able to play really strong female characters and I hope I get to continue to do that.
Yes absolutely, because it works really well! One of these strong female characters you play is Black Canary on “Arrow” and I have to ask you about because I’m a big fan of the show. You took a really hard task coming in this season and taking on such an iconic role, and really won the fans over. I know filming for season two has wrapped and you can’t give away any spoilers, but did you enjoy playing Black Canary/Sara Lance and would you like to see the character continue if – fingers crossed – she survives all the mayhem that’s to come?
Caity: Yeah I’ve had a blast, it’s been a really fun year. The cast and crew are amazing, we get to do such cool stuff, wear these crazy super hero outfits, and it’s great because the fans of the show are awesome too, they get really involved. It’s just a fun thing to be a part of and I’ve had a blast doing it. And I guess you’ll just have to watch and find out what happens [laughs].
One last question: Black Canary vs The Machine – who do you think would win?
Caity: I think The Machine because she’s kind of bullet proof and has super human strength. She could do some damage.
“The Machine” is now available on iTunes VOD and is in US theatres Friday 25 April.