This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more

Juno Temple Thinks Science Fiction is More Important Than Ever

"Sci-fi is a subject that is constantly going to challenge us."

One of the first works of science fiction to feature self-replicating artificial intelligence was Philip K. Dick’s short story “Autofac.” In a post-apocalyptic future, an automated factory continues to send out consumer goods to human survivors, regardless if they want them or not. Ironically or not, the contemporary real-world version of Autofac — a factory that can deliver anything — is probably Amazon, who also serves as the producer of the new science fiction anthology series, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams. Actress Juno Temple stars in the adaptation of “Autofac” for the series. She spoke to Inverse on Friday — the day the series launched — about her feelings about politics, artificial intelligence, and the importance of science fiction for the future of the human race.

Spoilers ahead for episode 2 of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, “Autofac.”

Though the “Autofac” episode of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams is true to the spirit of the original story, it changes many of the character details. This also includes adding a giant twist ending in which all the characters find out that they are robot replacements of themselves, created by Autofac to fulfill the need to have more human consumers after the entire human race is eradicated. Temple plays Emily Zabriskie, a character who believes she is the survivor of a nuclear blast but is actually a robot simulacrum of the “real” Emily Zabriskie, a Jeff Bezos- esque tycoon who created the Autofac in the first place. Essentially, Zabriskie is reborn as the robot Emily, and when that happens, has a total change of heart about the oppressive monolithic automated corporation she created.

Temple, a celebrated actress known for her roles in Atonement and Black Mass, was relatively new to the genre of science fiction. But she took to the challenge with excitement and with a full grasp of the import of the Philip K. Dick’s cautionary style. Even if she hadn’t read him beforehand.

Were you interested in Philip K. Dick’s short stories before this?

Sci-fi is something I’m new too. I had watched some sci-fi. But I wasn’t aware of Philip K. Dick’s short stories. I consider myself something of a technophobe, I’ve never been good with computer or cellphones. But, after I read this script, I got into a wormhole of reading about A.I. And I really started thinking about what a robot who believed it was human would go through and I was fascinated. I wanted to a challenge of playing one thing but really being another.

How did you approach playing a character who was essentially, two characters?

Article continues below

A weekly dose of news you can use to help you make smarter decisions and reap the benefits.
Sign up for our newsletter:

With the Emily you’re seeing the most, she’s aware. So, in a way, she’s where all the different versions of her are combined. The Emily from the past — who she’s based on, the real human Emily — is figuring out everything — but she can’t reveal anything because that would destroy her whole plan.

Juno Temple as Emily, re-discovering her true nature

What does Emily’s journey mean to you?

It’s the idea of being someone who has changed. There’s an awakening for Emily, when she realizes she is derived from the person who created the Autofac, meaning she is the reason for the destruction of the human planet. So, in a political sense, it’s kind of a political rebirth. I mean, everyone has their own view of politics. But it’s undeniable that your opinion can change. And part of that is experiencing what politics can do to the planet and the human race. So, Emily is someone who started looking at life from a certain point of view, created this monumental beast and then, she comes back to life as a person who wants to take down her original self. It’s a redemption that we don’t see enough of in today’s politics, unfortunately.

Why is the story important to you?

I came from a very green family. A family that really, really believes in the planet, and believes in recycling. Huge advocates of Greenpeace. So I grew up with that around me. So, I was able to use that when playing Emily. Because that’s what this was about. Saving the planet, but also, thinking about the entire solar system.

Would you jump at another science fiction project?

Definitely, I would like to attempt [science fiction] again. I think it’s a subject matter you might not get right the first time. As technology is evolving today, I think sci-fi is a subject that is constantly going to challenge us. It feels very important to today’s culture. I would definitely give it another go.


Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams is currently streaming on Amazon.

Media via Amazon

'Avengers: Endgame' Quantum Realm Theories May Be Focused on the Wrong Hero

Here's why Doctor Strange is the actual key to unlocking the Quantum Realm.

The Quantum Realm is all but confirmed to play a huge role in Avengers: Endgame, and that’s led everyone to assume Ant-Man is a key part of how the remaining Avengers will defeat Thanos. But what if another character is actually far more important when it comes to whatever quantum shenanigans occur in Endgame? What if it’s actually Doctor Strange who leads the way? After all, he’s already been to the Quantum Realm once before.

'Star Wars: Episode IX' Leak Seemingly Confirmed by Official Set Photo

The Star Wars: Episode IX title is still a mystery, but on Friday, fans got their first official look at the new movie courtesy of director J.J. Abrams. The image, which shows Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) in an emotional embrace is meant to mark the last day of filming for the latest Star Wars movie, but it might also confirm a pretty huge Episode 9 leak from earlier this week.

'Game of Thrones' Season 8 Premiere Is Missing One Very Important Character

Winter has arrived in Westeros, but the Night King may be missing in action when Game of Thrones Season 8 premieres this April. A full cast list of the first episode of the show’s final season leaked this week, and while it’s full of surprising characters we didn’t expect to see again, one major absence may be even more telling.

'Fortnite' Season 8 Map Changes Coming as Earthquakes Rip Up the Island

We could be looking at a whole new map very soon.

Rumbling deep below the surface of the Fortnite: Battle Royale island is the secret that could reshape the entire map before Season 8. There’s a lot more than just the Overtime challenges to keep us busy for the rest of the month.

Players have been reporting seismic activity in the form of in-game earthquakes in Fortnite for about a week already, and things began to get more dire Thursday and Friday as huge cracks began to emerge in the ground at various locations. The first seemingly formed Thursday southwest of Tomato Temple, a second formed north of Tomato Temple, and the third emerged overnight near Lazy Links.

'Alita: Battle Angel' Ending Cameo Was "Tough Casting" That Sets Up Sequel

There is a surprise waiting at the end of Alita: Battle Angel. The new sci-fi movie from Robert Rodriguez, based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga Gunnm, has a previously unannounced celebrity and former Marvel actor playing one of the movie’s biggest roles. But who? And, most importantly, why?

In interviews with director Robert Rodriguez, he revealed that the surprise casting is meant to lock in capable actors for big roles in future Alita sequels, which was a lot tougher to pull off than it looks. (Maybe not as tough as motorball, but still.)