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October 07, 2011

‘Real Steel’ director: Remote-control robots made scenes ‘magic’

Posted in: Movies,Video

realsteelatom Real Steel director: Remote control robots made scenes magic

Atom, an actual remote-controlled robot built for "Real Steel," in a scene with Evangeline Lilly, Dakota Goyo and Hugh Jackman. (DreamWorks)

In an era when most movie effects are computer-generated, creating real, remote-controlled robots was “the most central decision” for “Real Steel,” director Shawn Levy told the audience at Monday’s early IMAX screening of the film.

“In this moment, you can do everything digitally, so most movies just do everything digitally,” Levy said at the screening, hosted by Hero Complex’s Geoff Boucher. “It’s quicker. It’s often cheaper. So this notion of building real, full-scale, remote-controlled robots is kind of heresy now because it’s unnecessary. But it’s not unnecessary if you consider that you are going to get a visual reality and a reality to the performances that is incomparable.”

Evangeline Lilly, who starred opposite Hugh Jackman in the robot-boxing film, which opens this weekend, praised Levy and the filmmaking team, saying the experience of acting with a real robot was considerably different than green-screen work on her other projects.

“I’ve worked with a very, very invisible smoke monster for a very long time,” she joked about her role on “Lost.”

Levy said the biggest benefit of having real, moving, life-sized robots on set became evident in young Dakota Goyo’s performance.

“Certainly, it helped Evangeline and Hugh, but I think where we really see it in ‘Real Steel’ is with that boy,” Levy said. “The reason that those scenes between Atom and Dakota are magic is because that boy wasn’t pretending to love a robot. He wasn’t acting with a tennis ball on a stick. He loved that robot.”

Hear more about the robots in “Real Steel” in the video above, and be sure to check out the first two clips of the Q&A here and here.

— Noelene Clark


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