Features | Written by Andrew Dex 07/10/2021

Matilda Lutz | ZONE 414

From a human hunting mission in Revenge, to a terrifying outing in A Classic Horror Story, Matilda Lutz is no stranger to playing characters that have to survive in a savage environment, and now, as AI creation Jane she is taking on something just as brutal in the gritty, cyberpunk-infused Zone 414. Alongside retired detective David Carmichael (Guy Pearce), they descend into the heart of the ‘City of Robots’ to find a famous missing person, and as the duo attempt to piece together this disappearance, they also try to answer crucial questions about themselves. We caught up with Matilda to find out all about her time as Jane, and what scares her the most about this deranged, yet very realistic idea!

STARBURST: Let's talk about Jane; she seems sad and depressed, and maybe, just wants to know what it feels like to have a human relationship. How would you describe the characteristics of Jane?

Matilda Lutz: She wants to leave the city of robots. That’s her main goal. She wants to leave this dark, weird, and classist world. She’s struggling at the same time with the fact that she has emotions. She feels things, even though when she’s not programmed to feel. So that’s her struggle, understanding if she is human or not. That was pretty much what went into creating the character. I wanted her to always have a feeling that you’re not really sure if she’s human or not. That went from, when I started researching about Jane, I basically found out that there are real accounts with digital influencers that I had no idea about. Real influencers; with real agents; that make real money. They’re singing and going shopping, and going to fashion shows. Because of society today where you have all of these people putting filters on, Photoshop, all these kind of really pampered, beautiful worlds. Then you see this, and you’re like “Wow”. It’s almost like the world is flipping, androids are becoming human, and humans are becoming more robotic, in a way, and perfect physically. And the world they live in is perfect. It seems like there are no problems. So that’s what I wanted to bring to her. The fact that she’s a robot wanting to be a human, and she herself doesn’t know if she is or not.

Zone 414 itself reminded us of Blade Runner, with that noir-cyberpunk type of style. How would you describe Zone 414, and what attracted you to working in this world?

I like the fact that it’s scary. It’s a scary world because we are getting to a place where I hope it’s not going to get any further. I wouldn’t want to live in a city of robots. It’s scary. That’s what attracted me. The fact that we could explore that subject in these scenes. When I heard that Guy Pearce was playing David Carmichael, to me it was a dream come true. I’m a big fan of his. I really wanted to work with him, and then Andrew Baird had a very strong visual point of view of the film. That’s what attracted me to the project.

What would you say really scares you the most about the idea of Zone 414? Like, if this millionaire's playground was real, and on Earth right now, what would worry you the most about it?

Well, first of all, you’re not able to recognise if robots are robots, or if humans are humans. That’s scary. I really got scared when I saw these accounts. Some of the videos and pictures that I was looking at, I knew that it was fake because they told me it was a fake influencer. Not because I could see it, so that’s scary. Then the fact that humans get to a point where they need android companionship, because they are so lonely and so disconnected from the world and themselves, that they need to go to a city and pay a robot to have companionship. That’s pretty scary to me.

There’s a great scene where you really get stuck into David’s past and David tries to figure out what Jane really wants. What was this scene in particular like to work on, and how important do you think it is for showing the relationship between the two?

That’s the first scene we shot, without rehearsal. That was scary in a way for me. The first days on set are always scary because you’re getting to know everyone and you’re still feeling the vibe. I met Guy for the read a few days before, but we didn’t really know each other. I think it’s a very important scene, it’s the scene where Jane uses her programme to hit David, and at the same time, she gets caught in her own game. Where she is using something to hit him, but at the same time, she knows that he is the one who can possibly take her out of Zone 414. So she feels trapped in the situation. She’s trying her best to get out of the City of Robots because her first option was that she thought the client was going to buy her out, and when she’s checking in they tell her “No, the client doesn’t want to see you anymore. He’s satisfied.” She thought it was her shot to get out. She starts realising in her apartment when David first arrives that he might have feelings for her, he might care for her. That’s what hits her first. It hits her, like if she was human, that someone can care for her, besides wanting what they want. She knows that David isn’t there for her, she knows that David is there for Melissa, and at the same time he is showing care for Jane and wanting to help her. So that’s the double thing. She sees David wanting to help her, but at the same time she is using her programme to hit him in certain ways, like talking about his wife, and she puts music on in the hotel room that’s meaningful to David. In that scene she starts talking about his past.

As you go through Zone 414, you meet a lot of interesting but damaged characters. So other than Guy Pearce as David, is there another actor that you really enjoyed working opposite?

Jonathan Aris - he is amazing! I loved working with him. He is such a gentle professional; a very detailed actor. The hard part of my scene with him was staying still and not blinking an eye but still feeling, because he says, “I know you can feel me”. So, that was a technically hard scene. I could feel fear, I was scared of his voice, and the way he was moving. That to me was a really strong scene for myself as well. You see Jane stopping because of a controller, but at the same time it’s like what happens when you are in a position of psychological or physical harassment, whatever the violence is when you’re surprised by it, and you don’t expect it, that’s kind of like what your body does. You freeze, you don’t know what to say or do. You don’t feel like leaving, you feel guilty. That to me was showing how that really happens. It’s almost like you’re frozen. She’s frozen because she’s an android, but that’s what really happens sometimes. So that to me was really strong emotionally.

Finally, why should STARBURST readers check out Zone 414?

I hope you have fun watching it! I hope we connect more to the world and ourselves, and we stop being on our phones.

Zone 414 is available on digital download now. Read our review here.