Having spent over 60 years appearing on screens big and small, Lois Smith’s roots as a performer extend deep into Hollywood’s past, but her latest film, Sundance award-winner Marjorie Prime, is a Black Mirror-esque, sci-fi-tinged peek into the future, where technological advances have allowed humans to reconnect with computerized versions of their departed loved ones.
EW’s exclusive trailer for the film, above, sees the 86-year-old actress playing the titular character, an ailing widow who, with the help of an artificially intelligent rendering of her late husband, played by Jon Hamm, ponders her own mortality as she revisits events from the past with her new companion. Geena Davis and Tim Robbins also star.
“I’ve been acting for many decades now, I’ve had deeply interesting roles to play both on stage and screen, this one is particularly precious I suppose, because it’s complicated, it’s lively,” Smith, whose first film appearance was a supporting role alongside James Dean in 1952’s East of Eden, tells EW of Marjorie Prime. “The beauty of it, to me is its humanism and seeing how it connects how we live and explore connections with each other, our family, and memory.”
Directed by Michael Almereyda, Marjorie Prime is adapted from Jordan Harrison’s 2014 Pulitzer Prize-nominated stage play of the same name, which saw Smith originating the same role she plays in the film. Smith says she fell in love with Marjorie after the script was first brought to her some years ago, partly because she identifies with a number of the character’s struggles.
“Marjorie and I are both getting older. Her forgetfulness is worse than mine,” she explains. “Her past is complex and far from simply happy, though there is happiness in it. One of the things I’ve always liked about her is she loves life, although the story has some end-of-life stories in it.”
For Smith, working on a project with so many well-known performers also recalled earlier portions of her work in the entertainment industry, when she acted among ensemble casts in films like 1970’s Five Easy Pieces (Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Sally Struthers) and Fatal Attraction (Michael Douglas, Glenn Close). Still, in addition to the collection of strong performances built into the project, she hopes audiences walk away with something deeper.
“I hope audiences take away something that touches them and stays with them,” she says, stressing the project’s treatment of interpersonal connection and family ties. “It’s a very different thing with different people. Each person brings their experience to it… it’s fascinating how differently people take this film. I wish for people to join it, enjoy it, and take it home with them, and I believe they will.”
Marjorie Prime is set to bow on a limited number of screens in New York and Los Angeles on Aug. 18, with a national rollout planned for subsequent weeks. Watch EW’s exclusive trailer above, and check out the film’s poster below.