Actor Hugh Jackman says he would enjoy a trip in a memory machine

Hugh Jackman, star of the new sci-fi show Reminiscence talks to John Lui about the film's future-shock premise and his own thoughts on the future of technology.

SINGAPORE - In the science-fiction thriller Reminiscence, machines allow users to cocoon themselves in a virtual world constructed from their own memories.

Some become addicted to it, while others, like private investigator Nick Bannister, played by Hugh Jackman, use it to extract information for clients, not all of whom have good intentions.

Reminiscence is now showing in cinemas.

Australian actor Jackman, 52, speaking to The Straits Times in an online conference, says that if such machines existed now, he would give them a go.

"Yes, I'd try it, for sure. Delving back in, re-experiencing memories for real, to feel, taste and touch them, could have some benefits," he says.

He notes that there is a danger of memory addiction, as the film shows. But he also thinks the story reflects the risks of living permanently online, a condition that has become more acute since the start of the pandemic, when virtual meet-ups replaced real meetings.

Something was lost, he says. "We're quasi-connected. There is an essential human need to see and be seen by others, to be part of a community."

He faces off with Chinese-American actor Daniel Wu as crime lord Saint Joe, a swaggering, confident character of a type rarely seen in Hollywood movies - the sexy Asian man.

Writer-director Lisa Joy says her production conversations with the 46-year-old Wu, seen in fantasy-martial arts series Into The Badlands (2015 to 2019), centred on how she wanted him to break Western cinema stereotypes about Asian males.

"They tend to be portrayed as desexualised," says Joy, 44, who is half-Chinese through her Taiwan-born mother, and who also speaks Mandarin.

She has directed, written for and produced episodes of the HBO science-fiction series Westworld (2016 to present). Reminiscence is her feature film debut as a director.

"I wanted Saint Joe to be sexy, brave, have a lot of power and hold his own against Hugh Jackman's character," she tells ST in an online conference.

To emphasise Wu's masculine appeal, she made sure he was shirtless under the robe he wears in his scenes and that his trousers were cut low at the waist.

"And he looks amazing," she says.

As Joe lives in a multiracial, polyglot United States, his English speech is peppered with Mandarin phrases, which Bannister understands without translation.

This is a reflection of a globalised world, says Joy, but for her, it is also personal. "I am the product of a European father and an Asian mother, but I grew up in the US, so the world I see is pluralistic and diverse. I was reflecting the world I have experienced.

"When I was growing up, we spoke English, but sometimes Chinglish - like Saint Joe."

Reminiscence is now showing in cinemas.


Hugh Jackman in Reminiscence. PHOTO: WARNER BROS