In “Fitch,” Tom Hanks is the last man standing, trying to survive a sandstorm-blasted Earth. The new sci-fi movie details the daily existence of Hanks’s title character, living in an underground bunker or traveling in a ramshackle RV to safer lands. And while Hanks is the only human being onscreen (apart from one brief flashback scene), he was most certainly not the only actor involved in the production, as you can see from this exclusive video called “Creating Jeff.”
Jeff is the tall, clanky robot robot that Finch creates at the beginning of the film. The robot is voiced and was performed in a skillful feat of motion-capture by Caleb Landry Jones, the 31-year-old actor who played the brother in “Get Out” and the desperate soldier in last year’s “The Outpost.” This past July, Jones won the Best Actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his role as a real-life Australian spree-killer in “Nitram.”
As you can see in the video, with many side-by-side comparisons of Jones on set and the finished movie, the actor was fully involved in creating the character’s body language and attitude. “You can’t really get the nuances of what happens on set if it was just a CGI thing that worked perfectly every single time,” explained Lindsay MacGowan, the Animatronics Supervisor at Legacy VFX, which designed the robot.
Legacy’s credits include “Iron Man 2,” “Reel Steel,” Pacific Rim,” and “Avatar,” though visual effects supervisor Scott Stokdyk raved that with “Finch” the effects house fashioned “the most complex robot that they have ever built.”
“He had to wear these huge stilts and all this other CGI-friendly stuff,” Hanks explained about Jones in the video. Hanks added that when he saw “Finch” as a completed film, “I didn’t remember Caleb in costume. I was just seeing Jeff as Jeff, a testament to how fluid Caleb was inside all of that.”
Indeed, the character exists as an artificial intelligence with the human traits of its creator: chipped, broken down, and even with a literal screw loose in its discarded gas tank head. For more on the making of Jeff, including concept models and sketches, check out the video (above).
“Finch” is available now to stream on AppleTV+.