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Director Paul Verhoeven talks remakes, Schwarzenegger, and his favorite scene from Total Recall

08.28.2012

Director Paul Verhoeven recently attended a screening of his classic 1990 film TOTAL RECALL, where he took part in a Q&A session, along with original screenwriters Ron Shusset and Gary Goldman.  The filmmaker discussed everything from the Colin Farrell remake, working with Arnold, casting Sharon Stone, and his favorite scene from the film.

"Arnold being there made the movie a little light and I think that’s very important for these Philip Dick stories," he said. "I think if it would have been done in a straight way, I’m not so sure that it would have worked – at least, not at that time. And recently [in the Total Recall remake], it did not. I get to say that because the producer of the new one said that this was cheesy or something. And Colin Farrell called it in an interview ‘kitschy.’ So I dare to say that his version was not good," said Verhoeven.

TOTAL RECALL had a long journey to the big screen, with numerous starts and stops, various creative teams involved, and eventually was picked up by Mario Kassar at the recommendation by Arnold.  Once onboard, Schwarzenegger told Kassar, '"I want Paul Verhoeven because I have seen RoboCop,'" according to Verhoeven.

Verhoeven and Shussett talked about the complexity of adapting a Philip K. Dick story, which led to a difficult process of finding a third act for the film, which ultimately left audiences with two possible scenarios. "I felt that it should be both. I thought in retrospect this is probably the first post-modern film," said Verhoeven, adding that "the producer of the new one asked me [if it’s real or not]. I said no it’s both, and he said, ‘That’s nonsense.’"

One of Verhoeven's favorite scenes was when Schwarzenegger's Quaid is confronted by a "doctor" from Rekall, who states that it's all a dream. "I came to the scene that is still one of my favorite scenes, the Dr. Edgemar scene with Roy Brocksmith, who comes to Arnold on Mars and says what we see in him, 'You are not here.' I thought that was such a fascinating scene to dare to do that, to say something to the audience that they have been looking at something that is completely not true, and then prove to them that it’s true again."

Verhoeven went on to say that his experience working with the then relatively unknown Sharon Stone led to his casting of her in BASIC INSTINCT. "There’s this beautiful moment when they kick the shit out of [Schwarzenegger] and Rachel [Ticotin] comes out of the elevator and starts shooting. Sharon is on the ground and looks at Arnold … and it was exactly these 5, 6 seconds that made me decide to take Sharon Stone for Basic Instinct. It was based on the fact that she could do that so fast and so believable and she is so mean and so nice and charming, one after the other, that I thought she would be perfect for Basic Instinct."

On the Crusades film that Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger were set to do in 1993, the director said, "We tried very hard when we were setting up The Crusades. The script was written by Walon Green, and we were supposed to shoot it then Carolco went into Chapter 11 and the movie was never made. Certainly Ridley Scott did Kingdom of Heaven but it was, again, with Arnold, a lighter version of The Crusades but very critical of the Christians."

One of the most fascinating bits from the Q&A concerns a story from Shussett about the late screenwriter Dan O'Bannon and how TOTAL RECALL and ALIEN were born at the same moment. "He said, 'You're good – come on over, I have a proposition for you: I can help you finish this if you can help me finish this.' And he pulled out this thing, he had 29 pages written. He said, 'You can’t take it with you because I don’t know you and I don’t trust you yet, sit down here and read it.' And I sat down and read it, and it was the first 29 pages of Alien. I said 'This is brilliant.' He said, 'Yeah – and I’m stuck. What I see in you, I think you’ve got a good enough mind to help me make it work. So I’ll help you fix Total Recall and make it a reality, at least the script, and you help me fix Alien.' And that day, both movies were born."

You can read the full coverage of the Q&A by Movieline here.  It's pretty fascinating to hear about the development of some of these older classics, seeing as there wasn't the kind of coverage on films back then as there is now.  It gives you a greater appreciation for the process and a sense of history with the developement of old school blockbusters.

TOTAL RECALL the remake is still in theaters (but not for looooong) and TOTAL RECALL, the awesome version, is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD in a mind-bending edition.

Extra Tidbit: Verhoeven...there's still time...give us one more good one!
Source: Movieline

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