Jennifer Lopez, Simu Liu on understanding effects of AI in ‘Atlas’

Jennifer Lopez’s ‘Atlas’ teaches that humans should be on driver’s seat of AI

/ 07:14 PM May 27, 2024

(From left) Jennifer Lopez and Simu Liu. Images: Courtesy of Netflix

(From left) Jennifer Lopez and Simu Liu. Images: Courtesy of Netflix

While “Atlas” uncovers the perils of relying on AI or artificial intelligence, its lead stars Jennifer Lopez and Simu Liu remind viewers about the proper use of AI while putting “human emotions and feelings” at the forefront of every decision-making.

The sci-fi thriller tells the story of Atlas Shepherd (Jennifer Lopez) who’s struggling with her deep distrust of AI after a traumatic experience involving the now-AI terrorist Harlan Shepherd (Simu Liu).


Touching on her character’s vulnerability, Lopez told in a roundtable interview that the film is about showing the effects of solely relying on AI for your day-to-day activities and allowing the “human to be in the driver’s seat” of AI.


Also part of the roundtable were Liu and Sterling Brown, who starred as Atlas’ mate Colonel Elias Banks in the film.

“It shows how AI can terribly go wrong and when the human [is] in the driver’s seat, you can really do amazing things with it,” she said. “But it’s about respecting that it could go out of control and understanding artificial intelligence. It’s about making sure that you regulate and use it in the right ways.”

Liu, who was all praises for Lopez’s “commitment” to her job, said his character is a glaring example of how AI can go wrong when it’s seen as a “lead in decision-making.”

“Artificial intelligence is done in code. It analyzes but it doesn’t understand empathy and human cost. When you have AI or algorithms making decisions on how many people we fire or making artistic or creative decisions, you can run into some real trouble because art in and of itself is human,” he said.

The “Shang-Chi” star said the “amalgamation of data” that makes up AI doesn’t compare to the “real” qualities of what humans can do, especially in terms of taking charge in art.


“Art should have a message. Art should come from human emotions, feelings, anxieties, trauma, and the soul. Artificial intelligence is just an amalgamation of data at the end of the day,” he said.

Working with J.Lo, portraying adrenaline

For his part, Brown said the thought of working with J.Lo in itself was already a “great time” for him since she’s famous for as long as he can remember. But Lopez’s ability to “show up and get work done” is already worth noting in itself.

“To see how someone can be that busy and be productive and still show up and get work done, I’m so amazed and I’m in awe of the level of productivity she is capable of,” he said. “My favorite scene was us being on torture tables together. It was such a beautiful scene [as it shows] how vulnerable we are and people being there for each other.”

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Liu said while he had long been a fan of Lopez, he didn’t expect to have her yell “Let’s go b**ch” at him at a scene.

“My favorite scene was when Jennifer yells at me, ‘Let’s go b**ch.’ I didn’t have that on my bingo card. It was such a good adlib of hers,” he recalled while Lopez was cackling in the background.

“I didn’t know that I would be working on a role that’s supposed to kill Jen but it was a lot of fun. Jen cares. She is the most [that anyone] can hope for as a co-star who cares about the character, and story, and when you get there, it’s about being here,” he continued.

Jennifer Lopez in a scene from Atlas. Image: Courtesy of Netflix

Jennifer Lopez in a scene from Atlas. Image: Courtesy of Netflix

Lopez was touched by her co-stars’ praise, saying, “Aw, these guys” throughout Liu and Brown’s remarks toward her. However, she admitted that focusing on Atlas’ “emotion and adrenaline” was the most challenging for her despite her athletic and dance background.

“The effort of being thrown around into a sinking pit and dropping a hundred feet in a pod with a green screen, while bringing all the emotion and adrenaline into the role was the more challenging part,” she said. “I thought I was in a life-or-death situation. And that level every day for seven weeks was the thing that was most taxing on me.”

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Bringing Atlas’ trauma to life might’ve been “draining” for Lopez but she pointed out that it was the “core” of the film.

“Atlas is disconnected from everybody at the beginning of the movie. She gets thrown into a situation where she thinks she knows what needs to be done. But when left alone with this AI called Smith that chips at her soul, it proves to her she can trust and connect again,” she added.

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TAGS: Jennifer Lopez, Simu Liu

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