The best defence in a frightening world is to not grow up. There's a lot of that going on in Infinity Baby, Bob Byington's dry-witted comedy about the fear of commitment and genetically altered babies that require minimal upkeep and never age. Featured in the cast is Martin Starr, best known for his roles in HBO's Silicon Valley and the short-lived series Freaks and Geeks.
From his home in Los Angeles, the baritone-voiced actor spoke to The Globe and Mail about nothing less than devolution, the direction of the human race and, naturally, the rock band Rush.
In the beginning of the film, we don't expect much from your character in Infinity Baby. But he surprisingly evolves. What's your take on him?
In some ways he becomes the film's moral compass, if there is one. It's a unique movie. It doesn't follow normal character guidelines for narrative.
The film is quirky and satirical and wry and topical and yet, an early review described it as an "absurdist goof." I don't agree with that at all, and I imagine you don't either.
I don't. I think that's an oversimplified explanation. It's got a lot more to offer. Even just the general sci-fi aspect, which is scary, but an all-too-real potential that we're starting to face.
The human genetic engineering?
Yeah. There are moments in this film that ring more true than I would like them to.
What about the social commentary? You're part of a generation that is portrayed in the film as being terrified by commitment, whether it comes to relationships or deciding to have children. It's exaggerated, wonderfully, but there's truth to it.
The direction we're moving in as a race, the human race, is a little bit scary at the moment. Perhaps that guides people to be less hopeful toward the future. I think in general it makes you less committed to whatever future there might well be, because it's so heavily in question. I mean, every time there's an alert on my phone, it could well be a nuclear bomb being launched.
But in the early 1960s, the threat of nuclear war was more heightened than it is now. Don't you think the lack of commitment and worrying about the future has more to do with careers and jobs that are less secure now?
I'd say that's a fairly decent comment on the direction of America. You used to hear stories about how companies in small-town Iowa or Idaho or Wisconsin would take care of their workers, because they cared about them as people. That isn't how it is now. That isn't how we've evolved as a civilization, which is unfortunate. We've lost our connection with each other. Finance and power and ego seem to come first now. We're at the crossroads here.
Living in the age of devolution.
I'm not going to argue with you there.
Your computer-whiz character on HBO's Silicon Valley is a Canadian. Keeping in mind that this a Canadian newspaper, does his nationality inform the character?
He's definitely well-educated. How's that? But I always saw him as having moved to the States so early that it doesn't really come into play. He doesn't have specific dialect. I'm familiar with the regional accents in Canada, so it was a conscious choice not to go with any of them.
Keeping with the Canadian theme, I read that you like Rush. True?
Who doesn't like Rush?
Really? I didn't know that. Well, they're a national treasure, regardless.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Infinity Baby opens Nov. 10.