A.I.: Artificial Intelligence—which was released 15 years ago today—was an unprecedented collaboration between two titans of cinema: Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg. The film, based on the 1969 short story Supertoys Last All Summer Long, is set in the late 21st century and tells the story of a robot named David (Haley Joel Osment) who is programmed to feel human love for his parents, Henry and Monica. After Henry and Monica's human son Martin is brought back to life from suspended animation, his jealousy leads him to get David cast off into the wilderness with Teddy, his robotic teddy bear friend. David and Teddy soon befriend a robotic prostitute named Gigolo Joe (Jude Law), and David's quest to become a "real boy" begins in earnest.
1. PRODUCTION BEGAN WITH STANLEY KUBRICK IN 1983.
In 1983, 18 years before A.I. made it into theaters, Stanley Kubrick bought the movie rights to author Brian Aldiss' short story, Supertoys Last All Summer Long. Along the way, Kubrick would move on from Aldiss to hire writer Ian Watson and novelist Sara Maitland to help with the script, as well as illustrator Chris Baker to draw over 1000 storyboards.
According to Watson: "When I mentioned that Aldiss happened to loathe me, Stanley said dismissively, 'Don’t bother about him. I own the story.' (Much miffed, Aldiss was to tell a fan magazine, 'Not only did the bastard fire me, he hired my enemy instead.' Taking fright at his indiscretion, he then browbeat the magazine’s editor into recalling copies and reprinting the relevant page.)"
2. IT WAS KUBRICK'S IDEA FOR SPIELBERG TO DIRECT.
The two first met when Spielberg was in England making Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). In 1985, Kubrick told Spielberg about what would become A.I., saying—as Spielberg remembered it—"Gee, this is sort of like some of the stuff you've made, huh?" At the time, Kubrick was worried the movie would cost too much at $65 million. Kubrick later said, "'The card will read great. It'll say, 'A Stanley Kubrick production of a Steven Spielberg film.' Don't you think people will come to see that?'"
3. KUBRICK THOUGHT IT COULD FINALLY BE MADE BECAUSE OF SPIELBERG'S JURASSIC PARK.
Kubrick had abandoned A.I. more than once because he didn't feel the available technology would be able to properly tell the story. But when Jurassic Park came out, Kubrick was convinced his movie could be made. Kubrick asked Jurassic Park visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren a lot of questions and invited him to his home in England to give him the answers.
4. KUBRICK ONLY REFERRED TO THE PROJECT AS "PINOCCHIO."
When discussing the project with Sara Maitland in the mid-1990s, Kubrick only referred to it as "Pinocchio." Maitland was hired to give the movie "emotional sense."
5. GIGOLO JOE WAS INITIALLY A G.I. JOE TYPE.
Because David and Teddy were too naive, Kubrick suggested to Ian Watson that David needed "some G.I. Joe character to help him out." Watson suggested a "gigolo-robot" and wrote some scenes. “I guess we lost the kiddie market—but what the hell," Kubrick responded. Executive producer Jan Harlan said Kubrick "wanted to go all the way with Gigolo Joe—he got totally carried away with it. Steven took it down 75 notches.”
6. IT WAS SPIELBERG'S FIRST TIME SCREENWRITING SINCE POLTERGEIST.
Spielberg went to work after he and Kubrick failed at getting his sister, Anne Spielberg (who co-wrote Big), to pen the script. He used notes from Kubrick and "some 600" of Baker's original storyboards. Spielberg said Kubrick left behind a "brilliant" first and third act, and that the middle section had "pieces of a dream, but was scattered." Ultimately, the movie's screenplay is credited to Spielberg, from a story by Ian Watson, based off of Aldiss' short story.
7. JUDE LAW STUDIED MIME AND PEACOCK MOVEMENTS.
In addition to studying mime and peacock movements, Law worked with choreographer Francesca Jaynes for a few months to create motion specific to his character, using Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly as influences. Spielberg had costume designer Bob Ringwood look at Dracula to help come up with Gigolo Joe's look. In the end, Ringwood said Law looked like a "Victorian romantic hero crossed with a futuristic Elvis Presley."
8. IT WAS MOSTLY FILMED IN THE SPRUCE GOOSE DOME.
Some location shooting took place in Oregon's Oxbow Regional Park, but most of A.I. was filmed inside the Spruce Goose Dome in Long Beach, California. The Dome is 600 feet in diameter and 100 feet high and was built to house Howard Hughes' H-4 Hercules plane. (The plane now lives at Oregon's Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum.) Scenes from Stargate (1994), Batman Forever (1995), Virtuosity (1995), Batman & Robin (1997), and Jack Frost (1998) were also shot there.
9. SPIELBERG ADAPTED KUBRICK'S LEVELS OF SECRECY.
To receive his A.I. notes, Kubrick made Spielberg take an oath of secrecy and asked him to detail the layout of his own home before letting Spielberg install a secure fax line. He made Spielberg put the fax machine in his bedroom before Spielberg's wife, Kate Capshaw, got tired of the 3:30 a.m. faxes and made him move it to the downstairs study.
10. THERE WERE SIX DIFFERENT TEDDYS.
One was made to be lifted and carried by the cast. There was a "stealth Teddy" and a "stunt Teddy." Some were designed to make a specific expression. The Teddy Osment had to carry weighed over 30 pounds because of its radio-controlled servo motors.
11. THE VOICE OF TEDDY HAD TO BE ON SET EVERY DAY FOR THREE MONTHS.
Voice actor Jack Angel recorded all of his lines in one day (out of context), but then had to be on set every day in case Spielberg wanted him to make a change, like to make a line "more conspiratorial" or simply "a little faster." Angel was told that Teddy should sound like the Winnie the Pooh character Eeyore, but not to make Teddy sound dumb. Teddy's recorded lines were played on a loudspeaker on set so that the actors would hear the dialogue and could interact with him more naturally.