Humans: Interview with Tom Goodman-Hill who plays Joe


Channel 4

You’ve played Joe for three series now. What do you think of him as a person?

He’s impulsive, Joe, that’s the main thing. He does tend to do a lot of things without really thinking. He probably thinks he’s thought really hard about stuff and then he makes a decision and realises he probably hasn’t looked at both sides. But I really love him. He’s a good dad.

And his heart’s in the right place.

Yeah and I think that’s what has kept him and Laura together thus far. He completely, he absolutely loves Laura, there’s no question about that, and he adores his kids. But I think he hasn’t… he hasn’t grown up and developed in the same way Laura has. He’s I suppose slightly more narrow minded but I think I might be being cruel to him there. He just wants the best for his family and he wants a simpler life. He can’t cope with the pressures of making huge ethical and moral decisions that Laura is very comfortable with making.

Do you think he’s changed and evolved since first series?

No, not really! He’s quite the stick in the mud. I think although it was his decision to buy a synth at the beginning of series one, although it was him that kicked it all off, that decision wasn’t so much about being excited about new technology. It was about wanting to save his marriage, wanting to get more time with his wife. He was unbelievably busy and having to deal with absolutely everything when she was working. So when she did come home he didn’t want to have to think about everything else and just wanted some time together. That was a disastrous decision of course. So I don’t think his position on that has really changed. He still just wants the relationship that he had with Laura before she became wildly successful. But I don’t think that means he’s misogynistic or sexist in any way. I think he just genuinely wants more time with her and he’s not going to get it.

Something that seemed like a quick fix.

Yeah, kind of end game decision to move completely away and live in Waltringham and hope that she might come to him.

At the start of the series where do we find Joe?

So he’s in Waltringham, running his own fruit and veg stall, and loving it. He is really happy just doing a really straightforward job that is hands on, technology free, selling fruit and veg, having a shop, dealing with customers face to face, not online… he loves just chatting to people, meeting new people, and he loves when the kids comes and help him in the shop. For him that is real life so it makes him very happy. But he misses Laura terribly and wishes that they could sort it out.

Obviously Joe’s had a very complicated relationships with synths over the three series. How would you describe that relationship?

I suppose I’d argue that he doesn’t really have a relationship with them at all. He was just frustrated and I suppose slightly vindictive when he allowed himself to have a dalliance with Mia/Anita... And now although he can’t deny the synths have consciousness – he’s seen evidence of it. And he can’t deny that synths are, a lot of them, good people. He had a great relationship with Fred, he likes Max, he’s terrified of Niska and he’s terrified of Karen. But I don’t think he really fully engages with it. I think that’s half the problem with Joe, he slightly denies that he doesn‘t want it to be true.

Do you think he understands what Laura is doing with the synths in this series?

I think he sympathises with it. He always supports Laura in every decision she takes. He understands that she needs to do it, that it’s in her to do what she’s doing. He just wishes she wasn’t doing it. But he totally gets it. Again he just doesn’t want it to be true. He doesn’t want to face up to it. That’s what this series is about. It’s about facing up to it because it literally walks into his life when Karen literally walks into his life, and Sam. They are behaving and interact with him in a way that he didn’t think possible. For the first time he actually understands what it means for them to be conscious and for them to be walking around in a world of human beings that despise them. For the first time really it fires some different neurons in his brain. He starts to think now he’s got to make a decision that is true and real, something that he can live with.

You’ve obviously worked with the cast for a number of years now. Does it get more fun and enjoyable as time goes on?

It does get more fun. The only downer for me personally this series was I didn’t see anybody! I was down in Waltringham. I spent most of my time with Ruth and Billy who until then I hadn’t seen either! It was really strange.

Did you talk to the others?

Yeah, yeah. You cross paths at unit base just as you’re finishing and they’re all coming on set, or the other way around. You kind of have quick hurried conversations and try to catch up. But it is a lot of fun. I think all the synths at the railyard had a brilliant time because it was the gang back together.
Obviously the cast that play synths have that extra level don’t they, when it comes to their acting, what

Dan and the team have done is an amazing achievement. What are your thoughts on seeing them in their roles?

They’re amazing. I feel like a fraud when I watch them work because the level of concentration they have to have, the level of focus they have to have to do that is extraordinary whereas Joe is by definition the most human person in the cast. It’s really lovely for me to be… he’s not a character like anyone I’ve ever played before. I’ve never really played someone who just is a straight forward bloke. That’s actually what I found so appealing about it. I’ve often played people who are very very far removed from me and Joe’s not that. He’s like one remove from me which has been lovely and kind of interesting to do. You become very aware of yourself when you do that.

Would you have liked the opportunity to play a synth?

I’d have loved the opportunity. I’d have been terrible! Absolutely terrible! Hopeless coordination. Not too bad, but you know…

Well this is like another level isn’t it? Every single move that you do, everything counts and if you’re off on everything it’s so obvious.

Absolutely. It kind of makes me think of learning dance routines. I’ve had to do musicals and you know, I get there, but it’s a long hard slog getting me to learn any kind of physical routine. As opposed to just dancing on the dancefloor. Then I’ll cut loose. But if you’ve actually got to do a specific routine? Really difficult. It just goes against every bone in my body.

Obviously all of the series have made everyone stop and think and debate about AI and the effect it could have. What are your thoughts on artificial intelligence?

Too many thoughts about it. I don’t know where I stand on it right now. I’ve kind of withdrawn from social media, put it that way. I now can’t properly do it.

Because of this, or in general?

I suppose it’s made me think about it. With two grown up children who are so au fait with social media and know how to handle it, and it’s so much a part of it and have grown up with it… for me I find it really difficult. I was obsessed with Twitter. I was an early adopter of Twitter. I was on Twitter for about ten years and my account still exists. Some posts from Instagram photos might turn up on there but apart from that I’ve withdrawn from that as well. I suddenly don’t trust it. And I suppose I think when it comes to social media and artificial intelligence, the more and more, particularly the more you read about it and the more Jon and Sam write about it the more you realise that artificial intelligence exists now, is just a logarithm that reflects you back on yourself. You’re not actually interacting with the world in any way at all. The more you can interact with the world, the better. I think people who just implicitly trust artificial intelligence are somehow removing yourself from the world. You have no impact within those logarithm bubbles. You’re not actually doing anything.

And if it became conscious?

If it became conscious? We would all be screwed.

Would you get a synth if they existed?

No. No. I think first series I was quite keen on the idea… looking after kids, it’s just too weird.
If you could take one cast member home to be your personal synth, who would it be and why?
Wow. One cast member? Now that is interesting? Just got to pick a cast member who would be your personal synth… it would be Dino just because he’s strong as an ox and would never stop. He’d just keep going. Everything would be done. There wouldn’t be a job left undone. I’d be quite happy with that. But he wouldn’t be looking after my kids. That’s a different question though, isn’t it, because that’s not about whether you want to have a synth in your house, that’s about what you’re asking a synth to do. But that’s why I like that question actually, that is about whether you, how much you want to do for yourself, how much you want to engage with your own responsibilities. It’s nothing to do with whether you like artificial intelligence. If you’re asking human beings to do that, that’s one thing, but if just you’re asking a machine to do it there’s something wrong with you!

What have you got coming up that you can talk about?

I’ve got a film called The Visitor which will be out at the BFI at the film festival in the autumn, which I’m very excited about. That’s filmed and done. It’s in post-production right now. So that’s very exciting. And also Amma Asante’s new film Where Hands Touch which will be coming out some time this year as well.

Source Channel 4

May 9, 2018 4:55am ET by Channel 4  

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