Lambert Wilson on the Intersection of AI and the Future of Film: A Conversation at the Locarno Film Festival

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Renowned French actor Lambert Wilson, globally recognized for his iconic role as the Merovingian in the Matrix movies, has not only charmed audiences with his performances but also conveyed his concerns about the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the entertainment industry.

Wilson recently spoke to THR Roma at the Locarno Film Festival, where he is heading the competition jury, expressing his solidarity with striking members of SAG-AFTRA in the U.S. who are fighting against potential job displacement due to AI and technological advancements.

Wilson, an active SAG member himself, shared his unwavering support for his American colleagues’ strike, emphasizing the pivotal nature of this battle for the future.

“We are now being manipulated as artists and viewers,” he said, revealing concerns about the opacity surrounding audience data and earnings in the industry.

Drawing on his personal experience, he recounted his involvement in the Matrix video game, where his expressions and voice were captured for a digital avatar.

This experience underscored the potential risks of AI manipulating an artist’s likeness and voice for purposes beyond their control.

Regarding non-U.S. actors’ contributions to the strike, Wilson emphasized the importance of vocalizing support and advocated for solidarity across various art forms.

He noted the vulnerability of artists’ rights in the face of powerful corporations and the pressing need for collective action.

Highlighting the broader impact, he stated, “We’re not just fighting for a few extra dollars, we’re fighting to reclaim ourselves.”

Wilson, who has traversed various cinematic landscapes including Hollywood, Europe, and beyond, also delved into his role as a juror at the Locarno Film Festival.

He shared his approach to evaluating films, emphasizing the need to reflect on the essence of cinema as an actor and director.

He praised the festival’s role in kindling hope for the future of theatrical cinema amidst industry shifts.

The conversation further explored Wilson’s perspectives on differences between European and Hollywood filmmaking, highlighting the more genuine artistic interactions he has encountered in Europe compared to the commercial pressures and rapid decision-making in Hollywood.

Wilson also addressed his participation in both acclaimed and critically panned projects, using the example of Matrix’s creative control by the Wachowski sisters versus the compromised vision of Catwoman.

He defended his commitment to every project he takes on, even when facing challenges, citing his determination to stand by his colleagues and contribute his best effort.

Ultimately, Lambert Wilson’s insights shed light on the ongoing struggle within the entertainment industry, where AI and technological advancements raise questions about artistic identity, creative autonomy, and the future of cinematic experiences.

As he stands in solidarity with his American counterparts, Wilson’s voice joins a chorus of artists striving to ensure that the evolving landscape of film respects and preserves their craft and individuality.

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