'The Creator' director says the sci-fi film's story 'became quite real' with all the past year's AI advancements

Gareth Edwards on talks about the movie's futurist war between humans and artificial intelligence, and working with John David Washington on a grueling shooting schedule.

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When Gareth Edwards co-wrote, directed and produced the new 20th Century Studios adventure film The Creator, he intended for it to be a great science-fiction film, not a commentary on artificial intelligence.

“It was supposed to be creative storytelling, supposed to be just a load of made-up nonsense. And then it became quite real in the last few months or so,” Edwards, who scripted it alongside Rogue One: A Star Wars Story co-writer Chris Weitz, tells Yahoo Entertainment.

“I've always wanted to do a robot film and I did like a space movie and a sort of alien film and so it was like robots are next maybe, and I was keeping my eye out for ideas.”

The Creator, which drops in theaters on Friday, is a film that merges human-like, emotion-filled artificial intelligence with the world. But unfortunate events cause a future war pitting real humans against the robots. Ex-special forces agent Joshua (played by John David Washington) is recruited to travel to the eastern hemisphere to hunt down the Creator, who has concocted a weapon of mass destruction using advanced AI, in the form of a child, that could end the war and mankind.

John David Washington as Joshua in 20th Century Studios' The Creator. (Courtesy: photo by Oren Soffer. 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved).

The Creator puts Edwards back in the driver seat of his first original film since 2016's blockbuster Rogue One, which had him a bit on the edge. “My fear of doing that movie was that I was gonna spend the rest of my life with people shouting across the street, ‘You ruined my childhood,’ and so just to not have people shouting at me saying that is like a relief.”

The Creator was inspired in part by a trip across the world. Edwards says his friend and fellow filmmaker Jordan Vogt-Roberts, who was shooting Kong: Skull Island in Vietnam, invited him to “come out and hang out and have a look around,” so he did.

“From my perspective, my experience of the Vietnam War is through the movies like Apocalypse Now. So I was thinking of that kind of filmmaking, but picturing robots and everything and I was just like, this is a film I've not seen before and it feels so right and interesting. I just felt like if I don't go make this film, someone's going to beat me to it and I'm going to be really jealous. So, I had to try, and sort of a race to try and be the first one to do it really.”

Once he got started, the film traversed in multiple locations, Edwards adds. With the grueling schedule along with intense, emotional scenes, he knew he needed actors not only at the top of their game, but also ones who loved the material and could push through. The person he knew who could lead the way: Washington. He says working with Washington was “amazing” with this “really, really hard film to make” because of shooting in eight countries.

“We went to like the Himalayas and Buddhist temples and volcanic regions of Indonesia and 80 different locations in Thailand alone … and I was like, whoever I get as an actor, at some point, they're going to snap and they're going to just walk off and we're never going to see them again because of what we're doing to them,” Edwards says.

“So, I needed someone who I didn't have to talk into it, who looked at the material and went I really want to do this, like who was so excited about the whole thing and John David, just a bit like his character in the movie, he dived in and had this sort of amazing journey… we talked a lot about what we did and didn't want to see in films and those sort of characters and we were just totally on the same page.”

The Creator has also had quite the creative marketing efforts. Before there was Taylor Swift making a highly publicized NFL cameo, there were AI robots catching attention. At the Los Angeles Chargers season opener game, AI robots “infiltrated” several seats at SoFi Stadium, according to the Sports Tribune, to promote the film when the team squared off against the Miami Dolphins.

“It was great. I mean, apparently they've escaped, right? I don't think they have them. So I'm hoping they turn up somewhere else. I heard something might happen and I had the game on and I suddenly got all these texts from people, some friends were at the game. They were showing me on the Jumbotron, they like zoomed in on the guys. I hope they stay free. Keep promoting the film,” Edwards jokes.

The Creator opens nationwide on Friday, Sept. 29.