I Am Mother: Clara Rugaard On Playing A Daughter To A Robot [Exclusive Interview]

Robots will eventually takeover everything.

The artificial intelligence is evolving rabidly as they’re taking over our lives. Eventually, they will be raising our children.

In I Am Mother, a teenage girl is raised by a nurturing robot called Mother. The technological machine is designed to repopulate the Earth following the extinction of mankind. Their unique bond between the robot and human daughter is challenged when an inexplicable stranger arrives with alarming news.

The film stars Clara Rugaard and Hilary Swank. The robot is voiced by Rose Byrne and played by Luke Hawker. It is directed by Grant Sputore and written by him with Michael Lloyd Green.

LRM Online had a phone interview with up-and-coming actress Clara Rugaard. Her career is staring to take off with appears in the recent film Teen Spirit and the television series Still Star-Crossed.

We discussed about her role, acting to a physical realistic-looking robot and set and Hilary Swank.

I Am Mother is currently playing on Netflix.

Read our interview below.

LRM: What initially attracted you to a project like I Am Mother?

Clara Rugaard: First and foremost, this script is just so cleverly put together and well written. It has some huge brains behind it. In itself, it was just such a page turner. As well as the character, I found to be so fascinating as her daughter’s situation is so unique. There’s not really any research to be done to a girl who grows up underground and raised by a robot. I knew that would be very challenging. After speaking to the director on Skype, hearing his vision and hearing how passionate he was about it, it was just really a no brainer. I wanted to be a part of telling the story.

LRM: Did they give you the whole script all at once to reveal the twist towards the end for yourself? Or did they give you in parts?

Clara Rugaard: No. They send the whole thing over.

LRM: Tell me about acting in a sci-fi project with a robot or rather I would say a person in a robot.

Clara Rugaard: This is my first sci-fi film. I’ve heard stories how it normally pans out where you have to envision something in front of you, which, which isn’t there. In this situation, the robot was physically there. It was so detailed and so cleverly done. Then Luke Hawker, who’s an incredible actor, was inside the suit providing of performance for me. and for Hilary [Swank]. It essentially made our jobs so much easier. There was a lot of energy to bounce off of.

LRM: Being more physical a type of robot that was in front of you rather than CGI. Did that make it easier on you to act?

Clara Rugaard: Yeah. The set was built and it literally was like being in an underground bunker. Walking onto that set and with the robot physically being in physical form in front of me, almost made it impossible not to immerse yourself into the mindset of daughter’s character and, and immerse yourself into the universe of the story.

LRM: One of the things when I was watching the film, Rose Byrne’s voice was both soothing and terrifying, but I could imagine that then they didn’t really use her on set. Probably be a little bit later. Whose voice was it?

Clara Rugaard: Luke Hawker was providing the voice as well as the performance inside the suit the entire time. We can only take her hat off for that guy. He really did a phenomenal job and have to carry around the suit, which weighed I think 43 kilos and he had to go on a special diet. He worked out every morning in order to build certain muscle groups in order to hold up this crazy heavy suit, but also be able to fit inside it. He was very dedicated. I take my hat off for him.

LRM: Call me crazy. Did you even try out the suit yourself?

Clara Rugaard: I did not. Now that you say that. I feel like I should. To be honest, I wouldn’t even know how to wear it. And 43 kilos sounds like a lot. I’m not sure. But, if I come across the suit again, I will jump inside it.

LRM: Talk to me about the set that they actually created on a sound stage, was it claustrophobic and how cool was it?

Clara Rugaard: I wouldn’t call it claustrophobic. It was more if more fascinating. Walking onto the set, as I said before, it was a completely different universe. The amazing set designer did such a fantastic job of creating this world. I’d never stepped onto the set like that before. I spent a lot of time enough in that bunker during the shoot.

LRM: Tell me about working with Hilary Swank. I bet a you didn’t wake up one day and realize that you’re working with an award-winning actress like Hilary?

Clara Rugaard: She’s just fantastic in every way. Going to work with her and playing opposite to her, it was so inspiring. I would often catch myself, forgetting that I was in a scene doing a scene or just observing her. She’s so captivating, present, and raw. I was definitely taking mental notes throughout the process. She was fantastic. She really took me under her wing the entire time. It was really lovely.

LRM: What was the best advice that she gave you from a veteran actor like herself?

Clara Rugaard: We were saying earlier how the experience was so pleasant itself. There was such a great atmosphere on set. There wasn’t any shoulder to shoulder talk. I felt like I learned so much from just observing her. She tackles characters much differently for obvious reasons. I’m still learning. This is still quite new to me. It was a very fascinating to watch her in action.

LRM: Are you a big sci-fi fan, yourself?

Clara Rugaard: I actually am not. It was only really after having read the script, becoming aware of the universe and having to do a bit of research. I sort of grew this love for the genre. I wasn’t previously, prior to this film.

LRM: How was Grant [Sputore] as a director to you? This is his directorial debut.

Clara Rugaard: He is a brilliant guy. He’s so smart, clever and with a clear vision. He’s so passionate about the film. It was just the pleasure working alongside him and helping him bring the story of his and Michael Lloyd Green, the writer’s story to life.

LRM: There’s a ballerina scene in the film. Did you make special preparations for that or do you always had a background in dance?

Clara Rugaard: I used to dance ballet when I was younger. But, I did also take ballet lessons for this.

LRM: After this project is finished, would you want to do another sci-fi project like this?

Clara Rugaard: Oh, absolutely. Like I said before, it’s definitely opened my eyes or for the genre. It’s telling a story, which I think it opens up a conversation that we should talk about the fact that AI is becoming so prevalent in our society. I’m on board for more sci-fi films for sure.

LRM: At Sundance, which did this film was shown, when you heard first heard the news that Netflix picked it up, what was your initial reaction?

Clara Rugaard: Fantastic. I’m a massive Netflix fan. I loved the fact that Netflix has the ability to reach out to a massive, wide range of audiences. There’s so much content out there. It essentially meant that this film would be watched. That’s all you want from a project that you’ve sort of poured your heart and soul.

LRM: Let me start wrapping things up. Can you talk about any future projects or things that you would love to do?

Clara Rugaard: I’m actually flying off to Barcelona next week to shoot a film called Love Gets A Room, which is set during the Second World War in Warsaw, Poland. It follows a group of Polish Jewish actors, who put up a play. I’m very excited about it.

LRM: One last question for you, you keep on bringing it out as a conversation starter. What do you think about artificial intelligence? Do you think that’s a great thing or a terrifying thing?

Clara Rugaard: That’s the thing, isn’t it? It’s the conversation that we need to have. I Am Mother is definitely leaves you considering. I’ve always had technology in my life really. There are definitely pros and cons to everything, but I think it’s quite terrifying. It could eventually overtake humankind, if we’re not cautious about it. It’s evolving so fast.

LRM: Excellent answer. Thank you very much for this conversation and thank you for doing this movie.

Clara Rugaard: Thank you.

I Am Mother is currently playing on Netflix.

Source: LRM Online Exclusive

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