Yesterday evening, Warner Bros. Pictures and Annapurna Pictures, screened a preview of Spike Jonze's new film Her in Miami for Art Basel Miami Beach. The movie is staged in a distant, yet recognizable future, where technology has developed to personalized operating systems (called OSes) that can simulate human personalities. Lonely divorcee Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with his OS who names herself Samantha (voice by Scarlett Johansson). The film explores this romance that is everything but physical, presenting a strange future that is incredibly believable.
After the film, Jonze sat down with former director of MOCA and Deitch Projects, Jeffrey Deitch, to discuss Her. Jonze talked about his inspirations for the film, the process of shooting, and what he believes Her to be about. Here's 10 Things We Learned From Jeffrey Deitch's Interview With Spike Jonze About "Her."
1. Jonze worked with Elizabeth Scofidio of DS+R to come up with a vision of the future.
According to the director, Jonze spoke to Elizabeth Scofidio, one of the principal architects at DS+R (the firm behind the High Line) about imagining the world of Her. "She didn't just come out having ideas, she just started asking questions—what are we supposed to feel like? And was it a utopian future or dystopian future? All those questions that made me have to answer them myself and figure out what the future was like," Jonze said. In the end, the two decided to create a warmer, utopic future to contrast with Theodore's isolation and loneliness.
2. Jonze was inspired by futurist Ray Kurzweil.
When asked about what sources Jonze studied in order to come up with the future presented in Her, the director named the futurist thinker and director of engineering at Google Ray Kurzweil as one of his reference points. Kurzweil has developed theories on the evolution of technology. He is also someone Kanye West is looking to for portraying the future in his upcoming Jetsons film.
3. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is also worth seeing, at least according to Jeffrey Deitch.
During the interview, Deitch asserted that Jonze's other, and much more low-brow release this year, Bad Grandpa is more thoughtful than it might seem. He suggested that the newest installment in the Jackass series may compliment Her more than expected. Either way, Deitch was a fan.
4. The end is up for interpretation.
We won't spoil what happens, but Jonze leaves it up to debate if the ending is happy or sad or offers a lesson about the future or technology. When prodded on what tone he was trying to achieve at the close of the movie, he was more curious about what the audience thought.
5. Jonze filmed from a skateboard while shooting parts of the movie.
Relying on a technique often used in skate movies, Jonze balanced a camera on a board to shoot some of the scenes of Her, including one when Theodore is running in the woods. He admitted that he hit an extra on the board while shooting in China but was able to save the camera.
6. Jonze shot the film with Samantha Morton but replaced her voice with Scarlett Johanson post-production.
While Jonze filmed the role with Morton, he realized that the voice wasn't quite right. Although he didn't say specifically what was wrong, he credits Morton's contribution to the film because Joaquin Phoenix worked off of her voice.
7. Jonze makes a hilarious cameo as a foul-mouthed alien.
Jonze is famous for inserting himself in his films, and in Her, he appears as an alien in Theodore's video game whose favorite phrase is "fuck you." Jonze said he couldn't stop doing the voice of the alien and drove everyone around him crazy.
8. Arcade Fire scored the film.
In a previous interview, Jonze also explains that the song "Supersymmetry" from Arcade Fire's new album Reflektor was originally made for Her.
9. Jonze also worked with Sagmeister & Walsh for the film.
The director said that he was meeting with the New York deign firm Sagmeister & Walsh while working on Her. He went to DS+R's studio with them to talk to Elizabeth Scofidio.
10. It's a "relationship movie" more than anything else.
Although the film deals with the future and technology, it is essentially about the relationship between Theodore and Samantha. Jonze told Deitch, "First and foremost, it is about intimacy."
Speaking of the themes of the film, Jonze said, "All of those ideas sort of became background to me, to the bigger, or at least to me, more pressing idea of what is real and what is love, what we bring into relationships, and our need for intimacy and our inabilities in ourselves that prevent us from intimacy. And technology is certainly a part of that, in terms of, it is one of the things we use to prevent ourselves from feeling certain things."