Reddit’s AMAs — short for “Ask Me Anything” — have become a constantly intriguing source for stories and insights from creative folks of all stripes. As the concept has become more popular, we’ve seen celebs including Joss Whedon, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Bryan Cranston sit down to field questions from Reddit’s readers. It’s a unique way to interact with celebs — or even just regular people who have interesting lives or points of view — directly, without having the intermediary of a journalist or film editor or publicist picking and choosing the questions. Sure, not every question gets answered, but many of the ones that do are funny or fascinating. Director Spike Jonze recently sat down for an AMA and talked about the origins of his latest film, Her, and why he wanted Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johannson for the two main roles.
Jonze revealed that the idea for Her came via an experience many of us have had over the years, and which has gotten a renewed relevance thanks to Apple’s “digital assistant” Siri. Jonze had a conversation with a chatbot, sharing the bizarre experience of talking to a thing that you know isn’t really talking to you, just simulating conversation based on its programming. That planted the initial seed for the idea of a relationship between a human and an A.I. program, but Jonze said he didn’t return to the idea until five years later. “I started thinking about it more as a way to write about relationships, and trying to understand them.”