‘Atlas’: Who’s the Voice of Smith, the Friendly AI?

Here’s the man behind the machine helping out JLo


In the world of “Atlas,” people have a complicated relationship with artificial intelligence — no one more than Jennifer Lopez’s character, Atlas. She does manage to eventually trust just one though: Smith. But do you recognize that voice?

Now streaming on Netflix, “Atlas” follows Atlas Shepherd (Lopez), an analyst who has spent years hunting Harlan (Simu Liu), an AI that went rogue and is hellbent on wiping out the human race. As it turns out, Atlas has a pretty heartbreaking history with Harlan, so his betrayal hurts all the worse, seeding a distrust in all AI.

So, when she’s forced to pair herself with an AI-based robotic suit to survive a foreign planet, she’s pretty upset, to say the least. But the AI in this suit is named Smith, and it’s determined to get her to trust and work with him. His voice is gentle and reassuring, if not a little sassy at times as he learns sarcasm and cussing.

So, who exactly is that voice? It’s actor Gregory James Cohan. You actually see his face at one point in “Atlas” too, as he’s credited as one of the Dhiib pilots. But, you’d be forgiven for not recognizing him or his voice right away.

Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Netflix

Cohan has largely been in the background of most of the projects he’s worked on. Most recently, he appeared as a guard in “The American Society of Magical Negroes.” He’s also had small parts in “9-1-1: Lone Star,” “American Horror Stories” and more.

If you played “Red Dead Redemption II,” you might recognize his voice as part of The Local Pedestrian Population, though there were many actors who lent their voices there.

Cohan hasn’t had many starring roles, save for “The VelociPastor” — yes, a real film — in which he played Doug Jones. But, Cohan wasn’t alone in playing Smith, though his is the only voice you’ll hear in the film.

According to Sterling K. Brown, who stars alongside Lopez in “Atlas” as Colonel Elias Banks, Ben Affleck would visit the set here and there, and would read Smith’s lines for his wife to react to.

“I think the newlyweds, still very much in love, I think she just wanted to hear his voice,” Brown said in an interview with EW. “And so sometimes, the reactions that you got from her were because she was listening to her husband’s voice.”

“Atlas” is now streaming on Netflix.


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