Josh Hartnett speaks about creating something that he can’t control in The Fear Index

Virgin Radio

1 Feb 2022, 14:03

Credit: Getty

Credit: Getty

Hollywood leading man Josh Hartnett joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky to talk about starring as a genius computer scientist in a new four-part Sky Original thriller. 

The Fear Index, which starts next Thursday (10th February), sees the actor play Dr Alex Hoffman, a scientist formerly of The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), who launches a system that exploits fear in the financial markets and operates at lightning speed to make big returns. Josh told Chris: “My character was a young scientist at CERN who had everything figured out, he thought, but he was a little unscrupulous with his research, and it sort of mimics Dr Frankenstein’s arc, in a way. 

“So he pushes it a little too far without concerning himself with the morality of it and ends up with an algorithm that may destroy him and the rest of the world.”

Speaking more about his character, the show’s star said: “Alex Hoffman is a very bright guy, but he has a few blindspots, his major blindspot being whether or not he should be even partaking in this science in the first place. Secondly, he’s obsessed with this project that he’s been working on for a long time. And that combination has led him to this point where he’s created something that he can’t control.” 

The narrative see Josh’s character on a terrifying journey through the worst 24 hours of his life, cutting across reality, memory and paranoid fantasy,  forcing him to question everything he sees with his own eyes. He told Chris: “I think the strongest element of this piece is that, even though we have people creating things that they can make sense of on the outside, once they’ve created it, sometimes this AI technology was beyond their comprehension. No individual scientist can actually vet it out and try to figure out what it’s thinking, and so it can think beyond them which, in this case, is not good.”

The series is based on the 2011 novel by British author Robert Harris. It’s lead said: “When this book was written, it was guessing at what was going to come in the future, but it’s here, and we’re releasing it at a time when these things are actually occurring on a daily basis.”

Speaking more about the AI-related subject-matter of the new drama, in which he appears alongside Leila Farzad (I Hate Suzie), Arsher Ali ( Informer) and Grégory Montel (Call My Agent), Josh said: “I’m not against AI. I’m not against scientific discovery or working to the future. You just need somebody who’s actually watching over you. Peer-reviewed scientists kind of understand what’s going on with their counterparts, and that process has been there for a long time, and it works. But when someone like Alex goes rogue, it moves from science, from CERN, over to the financial markets, where it’s unregulated. He can get himself and everyone else into a lot of trouble.”

He added: “You have to ask yourself as a scientist, or as a tech company creator, you know you can do something, but should you? And that’s where you need people in place who you trust.” 

Earlier this month, it was announced that the actor would feature alongside Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Florence Pugh, Robert Downey Jr. and Rami Malek in Christopher Nolan's next film, Oppenheimer. Before that arrives though, fans can catch him in The Fear Index, which starts next week. He told Chris: “I’m excited for people to check it out when it arrives. It was a lot of fun to make. That’s the biggest thing for me, it’s being able to go out there and do things I love. It was a challenge. I mean, we shot this very quickly during the pandemic, so I’m just curious to see what people think of it.”

You can read our interview with one of the other stars of The Fear Index, Arsher Ali, here.

The Fear Index airs at 9pm Thursday 10th February on Sky Atlantic.

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.