It seems to help him grow up or become more courageous.
Hayward: He becomes more responsible. If you have children, you become more responsible. It makes you grow up. And I do not want to go into spoilers, but it also makes him stand up for himself and have more confidence to talk to people.
have been working on Brian and Charles for so many years made you two think more about artificial intelligence? Have you learned about it? Do you have thoughts about the joys or dangers?
Hayward: I look at AI stuff regularly, and for the most part it scares me. When I look at those robots … are there a video of these massive robots doing parkour and I see it and I’m just thinking, “Those things could hammer my door down at some point in the future and march us all down the streets.” Every time I hear about robots, it’s all like, “Oh, we’re putting weapons on drones now,” and you say, “Oh, okay.”
I mean, if the culmination of AI is Charles, then we’re fine, because we can just push those robots over. But I’m more worried about the robot dogs that I’ve seen on videos go around trying to attack.
They are really scary. If they made them look like Charles, we would all be on board, but instead they just look like war machines.
Hayward: Exactly. It is the strange dogs that walk with bent arms. It’s like, “What? What is it? Why did you make it? What will it do?”
Earl: I just put my head in the sand. I do not know anything about it.
Playing one character over many years is not something we necessarily see much of in the United States, even if it happens. The tradition is stronger in the UK, where a character can live across multiple projects and decades.
What do you think keeps calling you back to Brian? Are you in control of him, or are you still trying to figure him out?
Earl: I think it’s just finding a project. As we wrote this, After Life came at the same time and I was not really thinking into the future. 18 months later, both projects have been released at the same time, and they both have the same character. I really did not think ahead.
It’s always been just wanting to find a project to put Brian into. I wanted to find a story to stick him into. Even now, I just find it really easy to slip into those manners and react to other characters and robots. It’s like a habit.
Is there a germ for you in Brian? Is Brian just an improved or downgraded or parallel version of you?
Earl: I do not know what Brian is, for there have been so many different incarnations. He has gone from shy to rude and aggressive to jokey. I do not know what he is.
So I have to ask, how does the Charles costume really work? It seems obvious to look at it, but how is it inside?
Hayward: So it’s a reinforced cardboard box. The mannequin head is on a stick with which to pick bedding, and the picking bit is the mouth. I operate the head with one hand and my other arm protrudes to the side. So I have one arm that I can move and the other one is fake.
I also put a large set of armor on my shins, like a knight’s armor on my legs to give a bit of a joint to the knees. We always try to make our legs look less human. So I had to wear big swollen pants and put pieces of metal where we could, to try and make it look like my slender legs. Along with the blue eye, there’s Charles.
Earl: We always wanted the audience to say “Well, it’s just a guy in a box.” It’s just about audacity.