The flesh-and-blood woman behind ''Simone'' speaks
For months now, New Line has been telling moviegoers that the star of ”Simone,” which is about a director (Al Pacino) who fools the public with a CGI actress, was in real life a CGI creation. The film’s credits list ”Simone as Herself,” and the film’s publicity notes state that she’s a composite created on a computer, not a flesh-and-blood actress. But she is a real-life thespian, and as the film opens today, she’s finally emerging from a two-year, studio-imposed gag order to talk about her performance.
She’s Rachel Roberts, a twentysomething Canadian model who’s appeared on the covers of various fashion magazines and inside the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Still, she’s unknown to film audiences; Simone is her first major role. ”There is a real person in there,” Roberts told the Associated Press. ”People who know me recognize the character as me.”
During the film’s life-imitates-art production, Roberts would sneak onto the set in wigs and disguises, AP reports. She wasn’t even allowed to tell friends and family what she was really up to. Rumors were posted online that Simone was being played by a Canadian model, but her initials were supposedly ”A.G.” The cast and crew knew her only as ”Anna Green,” and were told she was a stand-in for Simone, one who would be replaced in post-production by a CGI actress. ”Anna Green” turned out to be an in-joke, shorthand for ”anamorphic green screen,” the term for a blank background to which digital images will be added later.
Once the movie was finished and the actors were granting interviews, Roberts still remained under wraps, responding to reporters’ queries only in character, in pre-recorded responses played over a TV monitor. Now that the secret is out, however, she says her name will be added to the credits on the video, and she’ll be able to list ”Simone” on her résumé, ”so I’ll be able to prove it was really me for posterity’s sake.” She adds, ”I think it will only help my career, all this mystery.”
Writer-director Andrew Niccol says that Simone is still a little bit digital. ”Simone is 98.6 percent Rachel Roberts,” he told AP, ”and I use that percentage just because that’s the temperature of the human body.” In that respect, she’s no different from a lot of other actors, who Niccol said are routinely subject to at least some digital touch-ups. ”I alter real actors all the time,” he said. ”You stretch them to make them look thinner or do face replacement on stunts. There’s a lot of manipulation that goes on.”