While specifically telling the story of a young, upstart technology whiz (Liam Hemsworth) who finds himself a pawn in a corporate espionage scheme between two tech titan archrivals (Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford), much like the film's rather general title, beyond the nuts and bolts of the plot, Paranoia addresses a lot of larger, universal issues about the ever-speeding advances in technology and its consequences on privacy and even morality. At a press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills on Thursday, August 1, stars Ford, Hemsworth, Amber Heard, Lucas Till, and director Robert Luketic discussed those concerns of more wide, real world-reaching relevance touched on by the film.
The Real World Relationship with Technology and Privacy (or Lack Therof)
"I've been an early adopter of technology since I was a kid. It's always been a part of my life, and this movie really spoke to me; it was sort of something I've been thinking about since Twitter and Facebook and all this data gathering and data farming. When I read the script, it was like 'Oh my God, this is so timely.' We didn't realize how timely it was, given what's happening with [Edward] Snowden and all this information [being made public]. I realize now how powerful [technology] is."
"I don't think we've caught up with regards to mechanisms to protect information at the same rate as our ability to gather that information. I think it could not be more relevant to what's going on today with Snowden and [Julian] Assange and the whole idea of personal privacy and liberty and how that conflicts or can conflict with a more omnipotent system of gathering. That's exactly what's so scary about it. Our personal liberties are always going to be in some conflict with our necessity to be protected and those two can serve as enemies to one another."
"One of the things the film talks about which I think is to me the most interesting--because I'd always presumed there was no such thing as privacy--is that if you offer people something or create a perceived need or value in a service that you offer, people want that newest wrinkle in technology and will give up freedoms and personal privacy in order to have it. That's the nature of marketing for this kind of device or devices."
"What I think is interesting too is one of the biggest threats these days is cyber-warfare, and how dangerous that is. They talk about terrorist groups now hacking into power plants and all these things that are now run by computers. We're all so connected by the Internet; we don't have these things in place to protect . We've advanced our technology so quickly that we haven't thought about all the other repercussions with it."
The Changing Value of Hard Work in Relation to Success
"For me, there very much is a generation that, as we say in the opening of the movie, was promised a lot of things--'if you went to college, you're going to get a great job.' As we've seen with the economic downturn and the greed of certain sectors of the corporate world, it's not so. So we have sort of, you can call them, 'lost generation.' There is a youth movement, I think, that wants to very much offer hope and promise, and I think the moral in our movie is not to go to the dark side because that sort of cutthroat ruthlessness is ultimately not going to service you on a spiritual level."
"I think you would like to hope that when you work hard at something you get somewhere, but I guess it's not always the case, but I think sticking to good values and good morals would be the key [to success]." --Liam Hemsworth
Balancing Ambition with a Moral Compass
"I think it's tough. I believe that I've approached my work and what I do as a good person. I like people that are good and have good intentions. I believe you can be successful without having to sacrifice that position, and that's the sort of character that I was attracted to in this piece. [Liam Hemsworth's Alex] betrays who he is essentially gives up everything that has anchored him in the world, supported him in the world, for this fantasy, this illusion of what life on the other side of the river would be like. I found it was an interesting dichotomy between those things."
"I don't think that ambition and morality are mutually exclusive, and I think it would be pedantic to assume that we had to choose between them, even in movies."
"Competition Breeds Innovation"?
"[My] character's perceptions about competition creating innovation are I think are appropriate to the story that we're telling and world that he lives in. It doesn't apply [to me and my career]. Acting's not about competing; acting's about cooperating. Acting's about collaboration. It's about utility and usefulness, your capacity to add to the work that has already been done and will be done, and you're just part of a team, so I never feel competitive about acting."
The Final Word
"I don't want to be a slave to electronic devices. I don't want to be 'connected' to my friends. I don't want to send snapshots of my dog and cute pictures of my family life to my friends. I don't want to be 'liked' by pushing a button. I use all of this technology to basically replace devices that I had in the past which work just fine. I don't really use it. I like books. I don't like to read things on the Internet. I don't have much of a connection [to technology]."
(Special thanks to Robert Luketic, Mammoth Advertising, and Relativity Media; photo courtesy Robert Luketic)