When he first heard about a RoboCop reboot, star Joel Kinnaman thought it would be a movie he’d like to check out. “I got a call from my agent and I heard that there was a new movie of RoboCop being remade. My initial reaction was that I might see that in movie theaters,” Kinnaman told Movie Fanatic recently.
Although he didn’t think it was a good fit for him, that all changed when he heard that Jose Padilha was directing the project.
“I’ve seen his documentary and his two Elite Squad movies, and that completely changed my perspective of what the possibilities of a remake could be. There’s a lot of wrong reasons why you would make a remake, and there are some good ones. When I heard that Jose was going to direct it, I was pretty certain that it was going to be one of the good ones.”
Kinnaman heard Padilha's vision for the film, explored in these RoboCop featurettes, and saw how it could be a vehicle for a larger statement on society as a whole. “I thought it was a brilliant idea,” he admitted.
And then Kinnaman brought up an idea that we’ve always shared here at Movie Fanatic about remakes. Plays are redone hundreds of thousands of times, why not movies?
“I think it’s human nature in many ways that we retell our favorite stories. In the theater we do that all the time. I’ve seen four different Hamlets! Every one has given me something different. In this case it feels like in 1987, when this film was made, it was a futuristic vision that felt very much like fantasy. It was an incredible film,” Kinnaman said.
“But in 2013 the technology has had an exponential curve and we’re so far into the future that I think in 1987 we couldn’t imagine where we could be right now. And for us, where society has come today, the concept of RoboCop really made sense to revisit, because it was one of those great opportunities where you could meld a big scale exciting action movie, but at the same time get the opportunity to raise some very interesting political and philosophical questions.”
Once he agreed to the role, Kinnaman had to start thinking about putting on that suit. At first, it was not fun… in the least.
“The first time I put it on we were out at Pasadena. It was a hot day in LA. It was so uncomfortable, it was digging everywhere, pressing down in my shoulders and I was just sweating like a pig. After 20 minutes I said, 'I’ve gotta get out of this,'" Kinnaman said.
But then, instead of a hindrance, he saw the RoboCop suit as an integral part of finding the man behind the machine.
“The suit became one of the first seeds that lead my imagination into the vulnerability that Alex Murphy felt after he became RoboCop. It was an interesting contrast because he’s got this body that is so powerful, but he feels very uncomfortable. He’s amputated from his throat down. He doesn’t know who he is anymore,” he said.
“My little level of uncomfortability led me to think of what Alex might have felt times a thousand. I was surprised to think that the suit that should make me feel so powerful actually makes me feel vulnerable.”
The first RoboCop, starring Peter Weller, is known for having some of the more iconic movie quotes of that era. The latest RoboCop was careful to bring in some of those lines in the remake, but not to overdo it so that the film stands on its own.
“There were a couple of versions of the script where so many of the catch phrases were in it. We all had a discussion that we’re doing a reboot of RoboCop but we’re not doing (first film director Paul) Verhoeven’s RoboCop. And Verhoeven is a film director that I have a lot of respect for, and he had a very specific tone,” Kinnaman said.
“Jose is a phenomenal film director that has a very specific tone to his films. So I think it would be a disservice and actually disrespectful to the original to sort of keep every line in there. We kept like one or two, maybe three, sort of as an homage to the predecessor, to what we love so much, but more than that would be a mistake. Honestly, it felt pretty cool to say a couple of those lines!”
Check out all six RoboCop trailers as you get ready for the film to land February 12!