Tom Goodman-Hill, who plays Joe Hawkins on AMC’s HUMANS, talks about Joe’s life without Synths and how the series has changed how he interacts with current technologies.
Q: Last season, Joe was a human struggling in a world of Synths. Where’s his head at now that he’s moved to a Synth-free community?
A: He’s suffering from a bit of ostrich syndrome. He’s kind of buried his head in the sand by moving to Waltringham, but I think he’s done it for a couple of reasons. I think he’s scared and he genuinely believes it will be better for the kids if they were to see what life is like without Synths. He’s done it for what he thinks are the right reasons. He hopes Laura will come at least half way to meet him on that, which he’s completely wrong about, but that’s Joe for you. [Laughs]
Q: This season focuses on themes of “us” versus “them.” Is Joe rebelling in his own way by living in this community as opposed to, say, protesting on the front lines?
A: He’s not political with a capital P. He’s more emotionally responsive rather than politically responsive. I think what he has to come to terms with this season is the fact that every decision you make in a world like this, when your family is so closely involved, is a big political decision whether you like it or not. That’s what he’s having difficulty coming to terms with. The course of Season 3 is to teach him that, I think. It’s a difficult position that he finds himself in. When Karen turns up, he’s forced to confront the decision that he’s made.
Q: Would you say he’s refusing to evolve with the modern times?
A: It’s interesting because there inevitably are going to be parallels drawn with Brexit, with the Trump era and what people might see as knee-jerk regressive voting, where half of society might see the decisions that Joe makes to be in line with Brexiters or Trump voters. The thing to remember is that when people make a decision, they make it for reasons that are important to them. We can’t dismiss those kinds of votes. We have to look at the reasons why people make decisions like that and address them properly. What I think we’re seeking to do, particularly this season, is take seriously the decisions that people make and see how they resonate with the real world. The decision made by Joe was one he did for all the right reasons and it was in effort to show the people he loves that it’s not necessarily a regressive decision, but just a different way forward. He may not be right in that – he probably isn’t [Laughs] – but he’s done it for what he considers to be all of the right reasons.
Q: Looking back, Joe is actually the one that bought Anita and introduced Synths to his family. Does he regret that decision after all that’s happened?
A: Joe’s powers of imagination are pretty limited. His reason for buying Anita in the first place was because he thought it was going to save his marriage. It wasn’t anything to do with being excited by the technology. He wanted more time with Laura and felt they were growing apart. The irony is it’s driven them even further apart.
Q: How does Laura’s work as a Synth rights advocate cause tension and friction?
A: Joe has always supported Laura in the work she does. He’s always praised what she does and he understands she has to do what she believes in. Ultimately, I think he wants Laura to understand he supports her. Whether he necessarily wants to live in the world she lives in is beside the point. That resonates in the world we live in now. There are literally families where one side doesn’t speak to the other. I think it’s important that we try to show that we have to find a way through. You’ve got to try to build relationships in spite of – and because of – your opposing beliefs. We all have to share the same planet.
Q: In Episode 3, Joe saves Sam from getting hit by a car. Is he rethinking how he feels about Synths – particularly now that child Synths have been introduced?
A: It’s important to remember that Joe is a good man. He’s not a villain. He’s a really loving caring father and cares for everyone around him. He sees everyone’s point of view whether he understands it or not. In a situation like this, of course he’s going to save the kid. He’s not going to think twice. He’s exactly the sort of man to throw himself in front of a vehicle for someone who needs help. The decision to save Sam is just a kneejerk response. His emotional base is to help someone out and that’s what he does.
Q: What’s it like for him to further bond with Sam and Karen? How is this complicated given his own family’s current dynamic?
A: He absolutely understands they’re in a bizarre situation where they’re separated from what they consider to be their family. They have to carve out an existence in a society that now despises them and fears them. They’re trying to do that by hiding in plain sight in the place that is potentially the most dangerous. Karen wants to be a mom and I think Joe completely understands that, being separated from his own family. He understands her desire to live quietly and look after her child.
Q: Three seasons in, do you find yourself interacting with current technology — Siri, Alexa, etc. — any differently?
A: Without question. I’m definitely withdrawing from social media. It’s all too easy to think that A.I. is already at the point that it’s at in HUMANS. A.I. is not at that point yet. I think a fully integrated and conscious A.I. is actually far less dangerous than the A.I. we currently interact with. [Laughs] What we consider to be AI is just a series of algorithms that just reflect back our own interactions with it. It’s a clever set of algorithms that make you think you’re talking to a conscious being. In social media, it’s all too easy to believe you’re always talking to a group of like-minded people and that, somehow, you’re changing the world. You very rarely see an opposing point of view and I think that’s an enormous danger. I’m trying as much as possible to withdraw from social media and talk to people around me and see what the world is really like.
Read an interview with Katherine Parkinson, who plays Laura Hawkins.
HUMANS airs Tuesday at 10/9c. Click here to add a reminder to your calendar.
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