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‘Atlas’ Director Admits He Casted Jennifer Lopez Because She’s A ‘Global Superstar’

The director says hiring the superstar in the lead role helped his new film’s creation.

‘Atlas’ debuted on Netflix on May 24. Director Brad Peyton opened up about the early stages of production and casting choices in a chat with Comic Book Movie following its release.

Jennifer Lopez took on the titular role who worked with an AI-driven robotic suit to defeat a threat to the human race in the film. Peyton explained how directing the singer/actor as she played opposite something that didn’t exist went by saying:

“Now, part of the reason I cast Jen was the fact that she is a global superstar, who is used to going out and performing to stadiums by herself as basically the person who’s like leading the charge, so she was a little more naturally adapted to be in a situation like this, where she wasn’t opposite another cast member. I think a lot of actors would have been terrified by that, but she kind of embraced it right away, and then, my approach was, instead of like doing classic coverage, where, okay, I’ll shoot two cameras, we’ll break them down, I’ll shoot two more cameras, we’ll break them down.”

His words went on:

“I set up four to five cameras at once and tried to shoot her entire performance or the entire scene in one go, so that she could just emote, get inside the scene, not think about the technical any more than she had to. And so, she really excelled in that environment. So yeah, it was a combination of, you know, casting the right person with the right attributes, and then working with them in order to focus my approach to support them in the best way, which is, ultimately, I think, my kind of number one role as a filmmaker.”

Finding The Right Voice For The AI Suit

Gregory James Cohen voiced the AI called Smith as it helped Atlas in her mission to hunt down Harlan. Peyton hired Cohen to help read the scenes with JLo at first but decided to keep him in the project halfway through the production. The director shared:

“And I didn’t say anything to Greg, because I was like, listen, it’s a big deal, you know, there’s sort of an expectation that we’re going to recast by the time we get into post, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen, because he’s perfect. He’s like pitch perfect in the role, so I felt really lucky, and it felt really good to be able to give this guy this massive break in his career, simply because he’s perfect.”

He recalled:

“The way he viewed his job was, ‘I’m here to support Jennifer Lopez. I’m just here to help her, and then one day I said to him, well, lucky for you, that’s also what Smith is here to do. He’s literally in this movie, just to help Atlas, so there was a lot of just luck coming together to make that all happen, and it’s really fortunate. The movie benefits in a big way, because he was there for the whole ride, he was there from minute one.”

The Story’s Villain Didn’t Expect This Role

Simu Liu played AI villain Harlan who almost ended humanity despite being designed to thrive it. Liu accepted the part to work with JLo but didn’t expect to be pitted against her.

The actor told ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’ shortly before the film’s release:

“JLo, to me, is perpetually ‘Made in Manhattan,’ JLo rom-com. Everyone falls in love with her. So, that’s kind of what I signed on with the premise of.”

He explained his early reaction to the role:

“I’m like, ‘Oh, I get to be in a movie with JLo.’ And like, ‘No, you’re trying to kill JLo, and you’re kind of also JLo’s weird sibling in a way.’ I was like, ‘Okay, this is not what I signed up for at all.’”

Sterling K. Brown, Abraham Popoola, and Lana Parrilla also starred in the Netflix film written by Leo Sardarian and Aron Eli Coleite.

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