The most talked-about video game of 2014 isn’t something you can buy—yet. It’s an incredibly immersive 3D experience like nothing you’ve ever seen. And it stars an adorable but surprisingly vulgar little alien kid with some very vocal opinions about relationships. The video game in question is the one found in Her, Spike Jones’ magical, Academy Award-nominated love story about a man (Joaquin Phoenix) falling for his Scarlett Johansson-voiced operating system. Its scene-stealing creation, Alien Child, was a collaboration between Jones and Irish animator David O’Reilly, whose signature 3D work can be found in music videos for U2, concert visuals for MIA, and even an episode of the cult Cartoon Network series Adventure Time.
“I was recommended by a few friends of Spike’s and he liked a film I had done a few years earlier,” O’Reilly, 28, explains about the casual origins of their collaboration. “He also liked my haircut.”
The self-taught artist says that while Spike was specific about certain things—not only did Jones direct the film but he also wrote its screenplay and voiced the little alien dude—he helped fill in the conceptual gaps. “My tastes are a few centuries ahead/behind everyone else’s so I was just doing my job,” O’Reilly explains, adding that he personally feels the realism found in today’s popular games, like Grand Theft Auto, is a fad and the cartoonish look of Alien Child might be the future.
O’Reilly also had a hand in creating Her’s other scene-stealing animation, Perfect Mom, the one developed by Amy Adams’ character. He came up with its world-bubble concept and brought on artist Kevin Dart to visualize it. “[Dart] did an amazing job,” O’Reilly says.
Already an accomplished filmmaker with a dozen short films under his belt—including the award-winning The External World (oh, and then there is his excellent T-shirt line)—O’Reilly still has a hard time with what is clearly his most high-profile project to date. “I don’t really know. I feel protective over things I make and it’s scary when they’re out there being scrutinized by so many eyeballs,” he admits. “So I’m mortified and appalled this film was released.”
Despite O’Reilly’s hesitations, his non-existent game has struck a chord with audiences. We might see his creation in stores someday—Jones recently admitted that he’d love to make the games in real life and even has a backstory written for the Alien Child character. It’s something we’d certainly be excited to buy, though we’re guessing from OReilly’s coy “I can’t confirm or deny this” answer that we shouldn’t hold our breath.
Until then we’ll gladly revisit Jones and O’Reilly’s strange and wonderful out-of-this-world creation in movie form and wait patiently for its high-waisted-pants future to arrive.