IRobot CEO Angle Lands Role in MIT Blackjack Movie

If you’re headed out to catch 21 on its opening night, keep your eyes peeled for a real-life MIT celebrity among all the Hollywood celebs posing as MIT card counters. IRobot CEO Colin Angle—who founded the Burlington, MA-based firm with fellow MIT alum Helen Greiner and MIT professor Rod Brooks—plays Professor Hanes in the film. No word on how big a role it is (although we hear Angle does have lines).

Angle’s turn in 21 marks what looks to be the seventh celluloid appearance for iRobot’s trio of founders (as connoisseurs of robot documentaries probably already know). All three were in the 2004 documentary Sentient Machines: Robotic Behavior, for example, and Greiner had some screen time in The Next Generation’s Legacy: 2007. But, at least until Angle’s 21 role, the star turn was definitely Brooks’ appearance in the 1997 Errol Morris film, Fast, Cheap and Out of Control.

Brooks, an Xconomist and the former director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, shows no signs of being jealous of his cofounder’s new-found fame. “I’m just hoping Colin invites us to his Oscar party next year!!!” he e-mailed me today. And Greiner reports that she just invited all of iRobot’s employees to go see the movie on Tuesday.

Update: This just in from Angle—

Professor Hanes, who Angle e-mails is “perhaps based on MIT professor Woodie Flowers,” is the organizer of an event called the 209 contest. Angle’s line:

“And the winner of this year’s 209 contest for excellence in the field of robotics and technology is….. The team of Connelly and Kazazzi!!!”

Says Angle, “I got the part because the movie borrowed some robots from iRobot for use in the movie and thus I got to give the award (the iRobot cup) and our name is on the contest banner.”

Talk about product placement.

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