BEVERLY HILLS, California — If you're on Twitter, Facebook or MySpace, chances are you have dozens of "friends" you've never actually met. If you want to purchase food, books, clothes or anything else, it can be done in your pajamas by simply typing a URL into your computer browser and waiting for the UPS dude to drop it on your porch. Second Life, Xbox Live, the Sims — log on, and let your avatar do all the work for you.
On September 25, a new sci-fi flick based on a beloved graphic novel will aim to explore the next step. But in a perfect world where we all have [movie id="341172"]"Surrogates"[/movie] to live our lives for us, what happens when the technology becomes fatal?
"This movie asks the question: What if you never had to leave your house? What if you could do it all through computerized technology? In this case, a computerized robot technology," explained director Jonathan Mostow, whose "Surrogates" stars [movieperson id="67397"]Bruce Willis[/movieperson], Ving Rhames and Radha Mitchell and is produced by Elizabeth Banks. "You're not experiencing things in person. You're just doing it all virtually, online. I think it's a pretty interesting question."
That query kicks off the story of Agent Greer (Willis), a cop living in a world where humans sit in recliner chairs at home while their robot doppelgängers go places they'd never go, have sex with people they'd never dare approach and deal with the monotony of the work world — while the humans experience it all virtually and safely. When surrogate deaths begin killing their masters, Greer is forced out of his chair and into what's left of the real world.
"This is really just a metaphor for something that does exist today, that exists on computers and phones," Willis explained of the film, which gets much of its heart from a subplot involving Greer's wife Maggie (Rosamund Pike), who only communicates with people as her surrogate. "[It's about] the ability to deceive someone if you so choose. To say, 'Yes, I'm at the Century City Mall shopping for a new pair of jeans,' when really you're in downtown L.A. trying to hold up a bank. And no one would know the difference on the other end of the line."
The only difference is that, in the heightened reality of experiencing life through a surrogate, you're way sexier. "You can enhance experiences that you want to have by getting in a body that is better than you, better-looking than you, and feels better than you do," explained Mitchell, who plays Willis' partner in the film. "If you're old, your body can feel young."
"The comic book had this great idea, a simple original idea ... this idea of human physical perfection," explained Mostow, who also made "U-571" and "Terminator: Rise of the Machines." "[People] want to look great all the time, to an unrealistic extent. If you go to any bookstore or newsstand in the country, the biggest category of magazines are magazines about looking fantastic with beautiful people."
So, in a future where everyone can be gorgeous, folks personalize their surrogates like you would an iPod. Willis' Greer is wrinkle-free and has blond hair, Rosamund Pike's real-person face is haggard while her surrogate looks like — well, Rosamund Pike. And as for Mitchell?
"When [beauty] becomes the norm and everyone looks symmetrical and perfect, the next question is: 'Well, how do I individualize?' " she grinned, explaining what she'd want to do in a "Surrogates"-like future. "So I would have a tail. You could have extra eyes in the back of your head; you could do whatever you want. Bling out your body. Why not?"
From the sexy Megan Fox in "Jennifer's Body" to the black-clad warriors of "Ninja Assassin," the MTV Movies team is delving into the hottest flicks of Fall 2009. Check back daily for exclusive clips, photos and interviews with the films' biggest stars.
Check out everything we've got on "Surrogates."