Joel Kinnaman talks about Jose Padilha's Robocop and how he landed the part
From the PG-13 rating to the black suit and human hand, it seems like every fan of the original ROBOCOP has a reason why they're not too high on the remake. Maybe you'll feel a little bit better after reading what star Joel Kinnaman has to say. The actor opened up about ROBOCOP in an interview with IGN, and revealed some details about the film, including how he got the part.
"When I first heard Robocop was going to be remade. I said “Yeah, that’s interesting, I’ll probably watch that at some point, but I’m not interested at all to be in it.” Then I found out that Jose wanted to do it and meet me, which I was very flattered by. I followed his work from way before he was going to do this movie, and I was very impressed with both his political analysis of Brazil and the style of filmmaking. The quality of his action that he blends with a very strong visual sense and very strong acting. For me he’s one of the big young directors. After I met him and he told me his vision for this movie, it was something that I really wanted to do. And I had to fight for it. It wasn’t an easily won audition. I had to audition three times. It was while I was filming The Killing up in Vancouver, so I was going up and down."
So why did Kinnaman fight for this role?
"At this point in my career, I’d done a TV show that had given me some visibility in the States, but I was still hearing from directors that were interested in doing a movie with me that they couldn’t have me in the lead because I wasn’t a name, even though I was the best person for the part. It’s not bankable – that whole rhetoric. So at some point I wanted to take a step into a bigger movie so that I could get to a position so that I could be of help to a director that wanted to get a movie made. To a certain degree, as an actor, the only way we have to define our artistry is by our choices. What choices we make. Because we’re not authors of our own projects. So of course you want to have as many options as possible. So I wanted a bigger movie that would elevate me hopefully to some degree. But I still really, really hope that that opportunity will be something with quality, and I felt that this was that."
Joel Kinnaman was also asked when he realized ROBOCOP was the right project for him.
"I was confident from the get-go. When I read the first script – the first draft – I didn’t feel that 100%. But Jose explained that that was a very rough outline. While we were getting close to shooting, after his first draft, I realised it was really going to be his vision. We actually had a very impressive preparation period where he had the whole cast for two-and-a-half/three weeks where we went through the whole script and worked through every scene and pretty much re-wrote the whole script… Jose is a very confident man, and he has a strong vision. I think he won a couple of big battles and gained the confidence of the people putting the money into this movie. He was able to really have that process. So we took away everything that we didn’t like. Everything that was cheesy, that felt adolescent, that didn’t feel mature. Because that’s what we set out to do. Not to do a superhero movie, but to do an adult, mature film, that takes itself seriously, and really wants to portray... it’s a tragedy. It’s an action tragedy."
To prepare for the role Kinnaman says he read a few books about neuroscience, but says most of his research was for Alex Murphy before he becomes the cyborg law enforcer.
"I read a couple of books about neuroscience and the relationship between the mind and the body. There are some philosophical questions that are raised in this movie – Where is the soul? Where is the personality? Is it just in the mind or is it in the body? What do you lose of your personality when you lose your body? And when you have a body that mimics a lost limb. The philosophy of this is that the phantom memory is recreated digitally and manifested in the body. So there are signatures of Alex’s body language that are expressed in his robotic body. But in terms of research, it was was more like walking through the script over and over again… I did more research for Alex before he became Robocop. And the reality of his life. That was what I was preparing for. Then after the accident happened I’m sort of finding a way to deal with that like Alex was doing."
Joel Kinnaman goes on to talk about putting on Robocop's suit for the first time.
"It was really uncomfortable. We did it in stages. So first we tried on some of the head piece and skull cast. It was a process that took three months. But when I finally had the whole thing on, I was really excited. I’d been at home trying to sketch out how my movement was going to be and so on. But I realised I had to throw all that out the window because the suit had its own movement. So that was what I was focussing on the most at that time – finding my way in, to see what was possible."
Speaking of Robocop's suit, Kinnaman says he had to do most of the stunt-work himself because of how the character moves while fighting enemies.
"I have to do most of my stunts because we realised that the movement pattern that I had decided for the character was hard to mimic in the battle situations. So I’ve been doing most of that, which has been pretty taxing."
Joel Kinnaman also revealed the way Robocop talks will change in the new movie.
"There are some transitions in the movie that have an effect on how I talk. I change the way I speak throughout the film. Different stages of being Robocop. So I made a point to find the differences in those."
Joel Kinnaman was then asked if he got to say any of the character's signature lines from the original, and the actor says he does, but only one of them.
"We kept one. We’ve tried to stay away from all those references, because we’re trying to make a very different movie in a completely different universe that does not have Verhoeven’s tone. So it feels like that would be untruthful to what we’re doing. But we kept one..."
I don't expect the remake to be as good as the original, and there are certainly things about it I don't care for (A car bomb is what f*cks up Murphy? Really?), however I'm going to give Jose Padilha's film a chance. It can't be any worse than ROBOCOP 3, right?
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