Renowned French actor Lambert Wilson, known for his iconic portrayal of the Merovingian in the Matrix movies, recently expressed his deep concerns about artificial intelligence (AI) and his wholehearted support for the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. Wilson, who is currently heading the competition jury at the Locarno Film Festival, shared his insights with THR Roma in an enlightening interview.
Wilson, an active SAG member despite not being a U.S. resident, stood in solidarity with his American colleagues participating in the strike. He emphasized the critical importance of their battle against the studios’ utilization of new technology that could render actors obsolete. “I’m on their side, 100 percent,” affirmed Wilson, emphasizing the significance of the struggle for the future of the entertainment industry.
Reflecting on his role as the sophisticated AI Merovingian in the Matrix franchise, Wilson voiced his concerns about AI. He recounted his personal experience during the production of the Matrix video game, Enter the Matrix, where his expressions and voice were captured for his avatar. This realization highlighted the potential dangers of AI manipulating his likeness and voice for nefarious purposes, even two decades ago.
Wilson extended his support for the strike, emphasizing that artists and viewers are manipulated by corporations, concealing crucial information about audience statistics, earnings, and exploitation rights. He stressed the need for unity among various arts disciplines to protect their work from being exploited by economic giants. Wilson passionately expressed that the fight goes beyond monetary compensation – it’s about reclaiming their rights and identities in an era of rapid technological advancements.
When discussing the future of cinematic art, Wilson acknowledged his initial concerns about the decline of theatrical cinema. However, his visit to the Locarno Film Festival provided him with a renewed sense of hope. Witnessing the thriving appreciation for the art form among audiences reaffirmed his belief in the power of cinema and its ability to endure and evolve.
As the head of the competition jury, Wilson provided insight into his approach to evaluating films. He emphasized the importance of understanding the essence of cinema and the need to reflect on its form, content, and expressive grammar. Wilson acknowledged that being a juror also enhances his skills as an actor, helping him differentiate between impactful and lackluster scripts.
When asked about his script-picking abilities, Wilson humorously admitted his shortcomings in this area. He highlighted the complex nature of choosing scripts and the challenges actors face in discerning their potential success. Wilson shared his recent experience at the Locarno Film Festival, where he presented “Cinq hectares” by Emily Deleuze, realizing the political undertones of the film’s exploration of gender dynamics.
Lastly, Wilson compared his experiences working in various film industries. He observed stark differences between European and Hollywood practices. He praised Europe for its intellectual honesty and willingness to forgive failures, contrasting it with Hollywood’s quick dismissal of talents based on financial considerations. Wilson candidly expressed his disconnect with the Hollywood system, preferring the down-to-earth approach of the European film industry.
Lambert Wilson’s thought-provoking insights on AI, industry strikes, and the essence of cinema highlight his commitment to his craft and his determination to protect the rights and identities of artists in an ever-evolving entertainment landscape.