Foe writer and director explain the movie's one big change from the book, and break down Terrance's motivations

Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal as Hen and Junior in Foe
(Image credit: Amazon Studios)

Warning! This article contains spoilers for Foe. If you've yet to see the movie, and don't want to know what happens, turn back now!

For the most part, Foe is a super faithful adaptation of the 2018 novel it's based on. But there's one major change director Garth Davis and co-writer Iain Reid, who also penned the novel, made towards the end of the flick due to the protestations of "all the women in their lives". 

Like the source material, the sci-fi drama centers on Hen (Saoirse Ronan) and Junior (Paul Mescal), a young couple living on a secluded farm, as an unexplained environmental apocalypse rages on outside. When a charismatic stranger rocks up to their home one evening, and informs them that Junior will be forced into space to try and ensure humanity's survival, the pair's already strained marriage becomes even more stormy. 

Junior, in particular, struggles with the thought of leaving the land, which has been in his family for generations, and becomes increasingly irritated by Terrance (Aaron Pierre) the stranger's presence in their house. Turns out, Terrance is there to interview and study the lovers, so that his organization, OuterMore, can build a biomechanical copy of Junior to keep Hen company while he's away. Towards the end of the film, though, it's revealed that the Junior we've been watching is actually AI, and since Junior has now returned, he's set to be packaged away.

During his shut down in the book, Hen, who has been aware of what's been going on the whole time, has no reaction. In the film, however, she screams, cries, and runs to protect the android. "They were telling us that if it was them, they would absolutely go in there," Davis says of his and Reid's female friends and family. "So, we definitely felt encouraged and supported by all of these voices, and just tried to find the most truthful choice.

Aaron Pierre in Foe

(Image credit: Amazon Studios)

"It just felt strange that she wouldn't go out and try and protect him," he continues. "It just became apparent in the filmmaking process that she should do that."

"It also just felt more cinematic, I think too, which is something Garth and I discussed a lot during the process," Reid chimes in. "As we were working on the script, that felt like an exciting possibility to really explore that scene and try and get the most out of it... to give the actors room to really make it their own."

For some, Terrance and Hen allowing Junior, the bot, to believe he's the real version seems cruel, but author Reid has a more sympathetic, pragmatic approach to the duo's methods.

"OuterMore and Terrance really want this to be as realistic as possible and they want to explore it to the full depth," he argues. "Not only is that to exist within a domestic relationship for the first time, it's also to see how this version of Junior is going to respond in all different scenarios. 

"Initially, it's just to be living as as a replacement for the real Junior. But then as they get farther into it, I think Terrance wants to... It's almost like, you know, squeezing every last drop of water out of a sponge," says Reid. "He wants to see how it's going to respond under stress, under duress, when it's face to face with the real Junior. In Terrance's mind, I don't think he sees it as cruel. I think he sees it as important and almost heroic. Now, again, people can have their own ideas as to whether that's true or not, but to me, that's how Terrance sees it."

"It does raise ethical questions, doesn't it?" asks Davis. It certainly does.

Foe is in cinemas now. For more, check out our list of the most exciting upcoming movies heading our way throughout the rest of 2023 and beyond.

Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.