Even Tom Hanks has to worry about reading the comments.
At the Tribeca Film Festival’s world premiere of The Circle — an adaptation of Dave Eggers’ 2013 novel about a powerful tech company that encourages users to share more and more information from their lives, for better and worse — Hanks and costar Emma Watson discussed the drawbacks of being so connected in the film and their own everyday lives.
“I think that I have always been very suspect of any type of thing that you put on social media, because there used to be this adage, ‘No good deed goes unpunished’? Well now the adage is, ‘No post goes uncommented upon,’” said Hanks. “And even if you’re putting up a picture of a lost glove or a lost baby bootie somewhere in the comments section will be, ‘How dare you not say anything about global hunger?!’”
Walking back and forth on the stage and speaking animatedly, Hanks also noted how the film made him reconsider figures like the one he plays, who is one of the founders of The Circle and proposes “innovative” new initiatives that really mean more power for the company and less privacy for their users.
“I think that the biggest change in my life from making this movie with all these fabulous people is that when you see someone on stage in front of a great group of people being incredibly charming, do not trust that man!” he said, to laughs from the audience. “He is lying to you somehow. He may talk about marvelous things about inclusion and togetherness and a bright happy future somewhere down the line, but the secret that he’s keeping from you people is, that he does not just want to dominate the competition – he wants to crush it.”
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Playing Mae, a young woman who comes to work at The Circle and ultimately ends up live-streaming every aspect of her life for the company in real time, was a “vulnerable” experience, Watson told the crowd, adding, “in terms of experiences where you have to walk onto a stage and there are things going on behind the scenes that no one knows about and you just have to turn on and be this thing, getting to play Mae and put that on screen, was really hard for me and really meaningful.”
Watson also noted how issues explored in the film are happening in real life, too. “Congress recently actually rolled back legislation that was put in place at the end of the Obama administration which prevented big companies like The Circle from selling our data without our permission, and so that’s gone now,” she said, answering a question about what people should take away from the film. “So I think what I would say is there’s no right answer … but I guess for me the big thing, having been involved in this, is taking back the idea that that information belongs to us, or belongs to me. And just being mindful and much more aware of what’s unveiling before our very eyes, oftentimes without us even realizing. So that’s been really interesting for me.”
The Circle, directed by James Ponsoldt and also starring Karen Gillen, Patton Oswalt, and the late Bill Paxton (who got a “For Bill” tribute in the film’s credits), is opening in theaters Friday.