I, Robot movie in the works

With Will Smith to play the lead? It’s not clear what the script or even the plot will look like, but it could be interesting. I remember reading a screenplay of I, Robot in the Issac Asimov Magazine writting by someone who’s name I can’t recall. It was very good, touching on many of the themes in the collection of stories but creating a whole new plot to carry it. I don’t know if the current project is related to that in any way.

Any thoughts?


More details here, including a brief summary of the plot.

It doesn’t really follow Asimov’s story much. From the above article:

It sounds like the only things included from Asimov’s book are the Three Laws of Robotics.

When I first heard about it, it sounded like Asimov’s novel The Naked Sun was the actual source of the script, not any of the stories in I Robot.

Yeah, this is kind of weird. Like photopat, I remember the technophobic cop being a character from The Naked Sun (among others), and I am kicking myself for not being able to remember the cop’s name. Although I do remember the name of the robot assigned to help him is R. Daneel Olivaw. The only recurring human character in the I, Robot stories (who made a significant impression on me) was a woman robopsychologist, Dr. Susan [whatshername], whose name I also cannot recall.

I’m hopeful that Fenris will be by soon to clobber me for the memory lapse.

[sub]Although I’m probably so low on his radar that he doesn’t have high expectations of my memory anyway.[/sub]

Here’s a pointer to the screenplay I read many years ago, by Harlan Ellison. http://www.twbookmark.com/books/44/0446670626/

IIRC, it was really quite good, but at the time considered way too expensive to film. With the current CG maybe it would be possible, but we’ll never know.

Elijah Baley, first book was The Caves of Steel.

IIRC, the 3 Bailey/Olivaw books are Caves of Steel, Naked Sun, & Robots of Dawn. Back around 1975, there was some talk of a Caves of Steel movie starring Jack Nicholson & Paul Newman.

I remember hearing Ellison reading from his I, Robot screenplay at the 1978 Worldcon in Phoenix. He told us he’d lifted the story structure and the opening shot from Citizen Kane.

Dr. Susan Calvin

The cop was Elijah Bailey, there were three novels with Elijah Bailey. There were a bunch more with Daneel that aren’t (IMO) worth reading.

Dr. Susan Calvin is the robopsychologist.

There were a pair of guys…beta-testers who also starred in a half-dozen or so robot stories and even teamed up with Calvin once before she eclipsed them.


There were also the two Robot testers who appeared in several of the stories. Mike Donovan and Greg Powell.

Actually, according to Ellison, the reason they didn’t make it was because he called one of the studio execs at Warner Bros. “an artichoke” and that killed the deal. They made the uh, classic, Damnation Alley instead. Good move, there guys. :rolleyes:

I have no doubt that if they’re going to make this without Ellison’s script (which is brilliant and owes more than just the opening scene to Citizen Kane, as Ellison acknowledges), it will blow dinosaurs. The original cast of actors Ellison wanted included Ernest Borgnine and George C. Scott. It would have been a powerful, massive film, that completely redefined science fiction cinema. Sadly, that was not to be. :frowning:

So is Will Smith going to play Susan Calvin? It’d be a real stretch…Dr. Calvin was fairly humourless.

Also, does anyone else remember the travesty that came out the last time Hollywood tried to tackle one of Asimov’s robots? Bicentennial Man was (IMHO) Robin Williams’s worst movie.

That’s because she, like all the other “human” characters in the book, was a robot.

Either that or Asimov just sucks at character development and dialogue. I have been hesitating to pick up another Asimov novel mainly because I thought that the characters in the stories of I, Robot were paper thin.

I’ve not read his I, Robot stories, but his Caves of Steel novels (well, the first three that he wrote) are pretty good.

Robots and Empire didn’t have Lije Baily in it (it’s after his death), but it really does properly belong with the other three Robot Novels.

And I didn’t think that Susan Calvin was a robot at all. The key thing about her character is that she doesn’t like most humans. All Asimovian robots, by contrast, absolutely like humans: That’s the natural consequence of the firrst two laws. In fact, unless it’s given a specific Second Law order by a human, a robot cares not at all for the safety, comfort, or continued existence of a robot other than itself.

Really, much though I like I, Robot, I don’t see how it could be made into a movie (or even a TV show, though that might be more manageable). The problem is that the bulk of the cast is different for each story. Sure, you’ve got either Calvin or Donovan and Powell in almost every story, but everyone else, including all of the robots, changes from story to story. In a book, you can introduce a new character with a single line of text, so this is not a problem, but it’s not so easy on screen

Reading Asimov for the characters is kind of missing the point.

You must have missed Club Paradise. <g>
And you guys have got it all wrong - they’re really making a movie about this. :smiley:

I disagree. It belongs in the garbage can along with the unspeakable Prelude to Foundation and Forward to Foundation and Foundation and Earth which are so excrutiatingly bad (IMO) that they almost succed in retroactively polluting the earlier stories to the point that you can’t read the earlier stories without recalling the stench of the later extruded Asimov Product [sup]tm[/sup].

But as bad as they are, they’re not as bad (I’ve heard) as the Brin?Bear/Benford sequels which (among other atrocities) apparently try to “fix” all the weird tech contradictions (slide rules and FTL for example) by saying that the robots had set up sattilites all over the galaxy beaming “stupidity-rays” at people’s brains. There aren’t enough :rolleyes: s on the net to convey my contempt for that idea.

As an aside, if you want to see what really happened after Second Foundation (and can forget that Asimov’s attempts to f*ck up his universe. Heh. And people say that Heinlein went senile. His writing issues were nothin’ compared to Asmiov’s drivel. One word: Gaia.)

Donald Kingsbury wrote an unauthorized sequel called Psychohistorical Crisis that ignores all of Asimov’s '80s and later crap with Daneel-The-Omnipotent as the behind the scenes puppetter. It’s set after the 1000 year plan with the Foundation firmly in control and asks “what next?”. Since it was unauthorized, he had to file off the serial numbers (Hari Seldon becomes “The Founder”, for example) and there’s a bunch of funny “in” jokes (there’s a rickety robot named Danny suffering from delusions of grandure) but it’s a fantastic, compelling story that doesn’t damage the source material the way Asimov and the authorized sharecroppers did. I can’t recommend it enough to Asmiov fans.


She’s objectively not a robot: look at her behavior in “Liar!” and the one with the infant robot: she’s a repressed '40s Ice Queen who is unable to relate to people at all but she’s certainly biological and one of Asimov’s most compelling characters.


Actually, he said the exec (Robert Shapiro) “had the intellectual capacity of an artichoke.” I just reread my dad’s copy of Ellison’s screenplay over Thanksgiving break. It would’ve been an excellent film.

Incidentally, I read the actual novel “I, Robot” after I had read Ellison’s adaptation, and liked Harlan’s work better than the original.