Twitch has been pushing the limits of fan interaction with Artificial: Remote Intelligence, which is an interactive scripted sci-fi series that goes live each Thursday. We’ve been speaking with the talented cast to help support the unique “choose-your-own-ending” type series, and have recently shared several of our chats with the actors.
Today, we’re excited to dive into our conversation with actress Jennifer Field, who plays Dr. Ruby Thatcher in the third season. We learned a lot about her character and how she helped form who she became.
Jennifer also goes into great detail about her appreciation for the fans, so this should be a wonderful conversation for anyone who likes Artificial to skim through.
If you’d like to hear the audio component of this interview you can do so by clicking the podcast link below at the 01:37 mark.
Literary Joe: I’d like to start by asking how you initially became involved with Artificial?
Jennifer Field: I love this, because everybody always has a story, right? Mine is quite simple though, it was just a regular audition that came in through my agency. And yeah, I just did it the traditional way.
Because of COVID-19, the first round was definitely by audition self-tape. Then the second round was actually call-backs through Zoom auditions so it was still sort of a little bit unorthodox. And then, yeah, after those two auditions I got the role!
Literary Joe: Were you aware when initially going into this that it was so interactive and unique?
Jennifer Field: Yeah, great point! I knew thankfully because there was the two seasons that there was a chat component and the live component tied into that. But I had no idea what Season 3 was going to be like.
And later when I got the role offer Bernie mentioned that Season 3 would be quite different than Season 1 and Season 2. I wasn’t there in the trenches for the first two seasons, so maybe there’s a lot more similarities than I realize, but as you can see just by watching, it’s quite different.
So I guess I knew the interactive component but I didn’t realize what it would feel like and how it would play out for me personally.
Literary Joe: Sure! Now, have you ever been involved in anything on Twitch before or with any other similar projects before taking this role on?
Jennifer Field: Yeah that’s a – I love that! You know, no! No. And so obviously I’ve heard of Twitch. This was the first time I’ve signed up for an account though.
I’ve had friends that are streaming on there from DJ’s to gamers to talk shows, and I just had never signed up for an account. But now I’m a part of it, and I kind of understand. I’m starting to follow some friends and learn the community of Twitch.
And what I find really fascinating – a friend of mine mentioned this and I’m totally taking it as my opinion of Twitch is that it is the least toxic of all social media platforms today. And I find, even with the chat, there are little obnoxious silly comments or criticism on our acting is actually a really supportive social media community world, you know?
Literary Joe: Well, that’s kind of funny because I was going to mention that I read online that fans have responded very positively to your character. So I was wondering if that’s something that grew over time, or if the audience was always that way even in the feedback through the interactive chat aspect of the show.
Jennifer Field: (Laughs) Oh, thank you. Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised. I think we all were! The reactions from the fans were surprising because it happened during the first appearance of Dr. Ruby. So, as you know, on my debut that’s when the chat really leaned in that very positive and supportive direction.
So we were pleasantly surprised by that, but I know that the fans of Artificial get really into it. They love that they have influence on the story and they love that they’re being listened to. So I know that overall even with snippy little comments, they’re really just harmless and funny. They’re just like cheerleaders of the show.
Literary Joe: Now, I know you’ve talked a couple times about the community on Twitch. Do you feel like there is a very prominent gaming community with your fans? I know a lot of people use game streaming on Twitch, so do you feel like that makes up a big chunk of the fans that tune into the Sci-Fi aspect of Artificial, or can you not really tell based on the way they talk?
Jennifer Field: Yeah, I think because I’m new to chat I’m still trying to understand some of the lingo and what people are there for. It seems like from their screen names that they’re gamers, but I can’t quite tell. I haven’t gotten a chance to start clicking profiles and looking at everyone’s own channel.
That’s a great little research project for me, just to kind of see “who are these fans?” And there’s some super fans up in there, you know? They’re in charge of the Discord, so there are some repeating names that I should get to know.
Literary Joe: Nice! I want to talk a little bit about your character, Dr. Ruby Thatcher. Can you tell me a little bit about her and who she is?
Jennifer Field: Yeah, so what’s great is initially how she was written and how she was envisioned for this story is definitely a psychologist. So you know, she’s a therapist sort of brought on to interview subjects for Lillith as she’s called now, for the A.I.
And also, anyone that’s involved in the project and just to make sure since we are dealing with the psyche and emotions and this is a new frontier we need someone to kind of take care of people’s minds. But because she has doctorates she’s considered a psychiatrist as well as a medical doctor. She’s beyond just a counselor.
On paper, they were looking for someone eccentric. I believe the word “quirky” was even used in their search for the right role. And I know that she likes the danger and bad in humanity and I think, personally, my understanding and my take as an actress whenever I play anyone who’s a psychiatrist/shrink/therapist, is that there’s something about humans and what makes them tick that they love. Either because they have some unresolved issues and they went through stuff and so they understand or they just find it fascinating.
So, I know that as an actress you know just sort of by the character that they basically like to look for drama. But the way I played it is that maybe I like to stir up drama. So Bernie had complimented me, and this was really, as an artist, it was so fulfilling for me. Because part of the creative process and the work that I put into her I felt was validated because Bernie told me that he tweaked the role ever so slightly after I got the role.
So I sort of brought in this other layer and my choice is, I not only like when people mess up or their negative traits, but I also like to sort of stir up the pot a little bit because I am trying to find out how Lillith is going to interact with all components of the human psyche. And I’m maybe not a saint either, I could be the villain of the show. So yeah, it was super fun because I think they are sort of working with me on that.
Literary Joe: It’s interesting, because it’s like the therapist is inspiring that behavior in these characters. Like you said, she’s kind of stirring things up because she needs them to act genuine and as they are even if that’s upsetting to the other characters.
Now, I’m interested in the audience aspect of the show. How has that forced your character to evolve and grow in unexpected ways?
Jennifer Field: See that’s the component I wasn’t prepared for. I knew that it was live and that there would be chat and I didn’t really look much past that. But now that people are chiming in I feel like I am listening to what the audience is saying. So if people really responding to the villainous side of me then I will bring that out even more and lean into that.
So I feel like not just the polls but when they’re actually chiming in and saying things like “oh, I think she’s evil,” or “oh, I think Dr. Ruby is actually the robot” so that has been coming into play in my work and so that is interesting. because I may be adapting my character as so. Now I don’t know how that would work because as a regular recurring role in a show you do have to kind of have consistency.
It’s funny because we just shot some more archival clips and there were a couple of takes where I went a little in the, as I think Bernie called it “Joker” direction, like really mad scientist “Joker” and so I don’t know if they’re gonna use those takes and I don’t know how that’s going to come out but I think I’m being already influenced.
Literary Joe: That’s funny you mentioned that because I spoke to your castmate Tohoru Masamune earlier, and when he was talking about what he looks to for darker inspiration, he mentioned Joker. He said he kind of looks to Joaquin’s darker tone when he’s doing his characters.
Jennifer Field: (Laughs) I see. That tells me that may be from the audience, but knowing him, he was probably doing that in his own work anyways. That is a recent movie that was quite influential and meaningful to people so that’s probably why that keeps getting brought up. So I mean, yeah. that’s funny. We don’t want to have two Jokers on there now!
Literary Joe: I’m curious, do you ever get to take part in the interactive aspect of Artificial? When you’re not on screen, do you ever hop in the chat, or is that something that you’re prohibited from doing.
Jennifer Field: Thankfully I am not prohibited, and I do it with much joy. I’m in there from start to finish every time, and I’m not listed as my name, and I’m not listed as Dr. Ruby. I’m just listed as this random sort of gamertag that I came up with and I’m like a secret super spy.
Maybe one day the audience can figure out who I am, sort of like a guessing game. I’m not in there like being lame and just saying “oh my gosh, Dr. Ruby is the best thing on the show!” although I could. I’m just pushing the story along and supporting my cast and that way I can chime in and vote and influence the score.
Literary Joe: Which of your roles prior to this do you think best prepared you for the uniqueness of this part?
Jennifer Field: Yeah, great question. There was this short film that I always bring up because it was one of my favorite roles but it never got seen and it actually never got finished. Something happened where it was one of those things where it was a directorial narrative debut for like a music video film director.
And I think sometimes the first little short film or narrative project you make when you’re breaking out of music videos or home videos or commercials, or just the first story you’ve ever told. I don’t know, this isn’t the first time that I’ve had a filmmaker abandon it, or think it’s not good enough, or get tired of the process of constantly rewatching it.
And there was a role where I played a vigilante who was fighting for women that were being cheated on. It was such a fun role because I was a little coocoo and it was so empowering and then it never got seen anywhere. But it was one of those roles where I got to let my freak flag fly, which is a little bit what’s happening here.
Literary Joe: Nice! Did you happen to work with any of the cast or crew of Artificial before working with them on this show?
Jennifer Field: Yeah! That’s why I thought it was even more fitting when I became a part of this family. I’ve worked with Tohoru on a feature film that has yet to be released. It will be released probably this year or next and it will likely get a Japan release.
They kept changing the name, I think it’s Bond of Justice. There’s a couple names in it and it’s largely a thriller/martial arts type of movie and Tohoru and I were actually in a scene together. So I’ve worked with him before, and then I’ve known his work and even seen some of his independent stuff.
And Bernie I worked with on this series called Elevator which I believe is no longer available online. It was all about a hidden camera in an elevator and the funny things that happened inside. So we worked on that and I’ve been auditioning for Bernie’s fabulous characters for over a decade.
And Bonnie Buckner was working on K-Town with me, and I was in just the pilot because once it got bought out I had already been working on it for a couple of years, but she worked on that with me.
Literary Joe: That’s cool. It’s interesting how you run into these people at different jobs in different ways. Especially as I’ve talked to a few people now that have said they worked with Bernie on multiple projects, so it seems like he keeps bringing on everyone he works with into the same group, which is pretty cool. Is there anyone on the show that you feel like you bond with more than others?
Jennifer Feld: Well I feel like I’ve really gotten a chance to know Tohoru. We’ve been sort of rehearsal buddies. And I finally got a chance to talk to Steven Chang who plays Sebastian because we actually went to the same high school and college but different years.
We barely missed each other, it’s possible that he was a freshman while I was a senior, but I know that I was expelled from high school by the time he got there. We’re close enough in age that we could have been colleagues. Back then marijuana was a big deal. People were going to jail over it.
Literary Joe: Is there any interesting trivia you can share with us?
Jennifer Field: Well, besides for inspiration, because I’m really proud of the Amie Harwick/Dr. Ian Malcolm crossbreed. (Laughs)
I feel like Dr. Ruby is a part of me but she is me if I was in a comic book. She’s like a very elaborate version of me. The way I speak and look at people and my gestures are all sort of a part of me but more so. I envision that if I was in a graphic novel series, that would be me.
Literary Joe: Is there anything else you would like to share about Artificial or any of your other projects?
Jennifer Field: Yes, thank you to everyone who is watching and chatting, we love the positive stuff! I love compliments, attention, and we love when you’re caring about what’s happening in the story. I’m watching.
I’m watching every comment. I watch through the episodes so I’m sitting on the live stream. Then I rewatch just for comments, and then I rewatch a third time just to watch our performances. So I am very closely paying attention to what everybody’s saying and doing.
And I really care about the audience. I don’t think I’ve ever cared this much about an audience before, come to think of it. This is the most involved I’ve ever been and it’s really, really rewarding.
*This interview has been edited for clarity.*
What do you guys think of these comments from actress and 2006 Miss Asian America winner Jennifer Field? Be sure to check out the trailer for Artificial below and share your thoughts in the comments section!
As the fallout of Kira’s investigation drives Dr. Lin into isolation, Elle and Justin move forward with the AI Lilith’s development. The familiar faces of Zander and Carmen challenge the mission of the project by raising questions about the AI’s past and future. How will Lilith adapt to all these conflicts? It’s up to you.
Artificial is live and interactive every Thursday at 5pm PST on
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