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SURROGATES

The Birth Of Surrogates
First the computer. Then email, tiny cell phones and the Internet. Today, sexy robotic surrogates fill in for their less attractive human counterparts—regular people who no longer have to venture out into the real world themselves. In the world of "SURROGATES,” has technology gone too far?

"The premise of the movie is that surrogacy has taken over the world like cell phones and computers,” says director Jonathan Mostow. "Surrogates are new devices that offer users the opportunity to experience life vicariously from the comfort and safety of their own homes. In our film, surrogates represent the ultimate freedom, from both physical harm and the mental toll of everyday life. Pleasure is achievable simply by plugging in. "But for some, surrogacy feels like the abandonment of humanity itself,” Mostow continues. "In a world where actual physical contact is increasingly rare, does the very notion of love threaten to lose its meaning? Those are some of the ideas we explore in our story.”

First-time author Robert Venditti came up with the unique premise while working at Top Shelf Publications in their shipping warehouse in suburban Atlanta. Looking for a new spin on the graphic novel, Venditti recalled a sociology book he had read for one of his graduate school courses which depicted "an actual study of people who played one of those early community-type online games,” says Venditti. "I was fascinated by how these people just became so involved in this game, creating these alternate personas for themselves. They became so identified with them that they would lose their jobs, their marriages, because they just couldn't separate their lives from this persona that they created. It was an idea that stuck with me—the basic human desire to be something other than oneself.”

The author fleshed out his idea further by imagining various reasons people would have for using a surrogate. "My idea was to create this persona that would go to work and earn money for you, a practical reason for having a surrogate. I looked at the idea of self-improvement, where these surrogates represent plastic surgery to the extreme where you could maintain yourself as forever young, or be more muscular—look like your dream self.”

"The story has always spoken to me about technology versus humanity,” producer Hoberman says. "I am someone who has come very late to computers, the Internet, email and iPhones. Until recently, I knew nothing. This story addressed, in a compelling manner, what would happen if everybody basically lived inside a computer, and their lives were being lived by someone else out there. It just spoke to where technology is going. I think it also spoke to plastic surgery and things people do to their bodies. I thought it was an interesting idea to explore in a film.”

Bruce Willis ("Die Hard,” "Twelve Monkeys,” "The Sixth Sense”) and Radha Mitchell ("Man on Fire,” "Melinda and Melinda,” "Pitch Black”) star as FBI agents Thomas Greer and Jennifer Peters, newly teamed partners charged with investigating a murder. It's the first murder in years for their utopian society, and one that triggers questions about the ethics of surrogate technology and the future of society.

Says Mostow: "This movie is a mystery, a detective story, with Bruce Willis as an FBI agent whose investigation into the mysterious murder of a surrogate finds the hero confronting a conspiracy that calls into question the very definition of humanity.”

"It's a cautionary tale about how people live their lives in this technological world of today,” adds Hoberman.

In the film, Dr. Lionel Canter is a reclusive billionaire and M.I.T. genius whose groundbreaking experiments have led to the creation of the surrogate population. Confined to a wheelchair, Canter beg

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