9 Things I Learned at the RoboCop Press Conference

By Luke Y. Thompson in Movies
Friday, February 14, 2014 at 8:00 am

7. Gary Oldman's Nerdy Acting/Procrastinating Technique.

OIdman: If it's good writing, it's on the page. I often think that if you're breaking a sweat, if you're working too hard for something, then it's always a problem. If you're trying to make the writing work, and it's like your map, and there's all the signs in the material, it's that old Stella Adler thing of reading out, not reading in. I didn't bring my own baggage to it. You use your imagination and what is there on the page, so I didn't really look outside of the script very much. As far as these bionic engineers and neuro-surgery, I mean I Google, and the great thing about Google is that you type in neurosurgery, and somehow you end up with Peter Sellers, or watching Frank Sinatra But no, Google, great resource.

8. Remakes Are Okay Because Shakespeare. Also, Drones.

Kinnaman: I sat down with Jose and he told me the vision of the story that he wanted to tell by using the concept of RoboCop, and I thought it was a brilliant idea, and I think it's human nature 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 1987 when this film was made, it was a futuristic vision that felt very much like fantasy. Incredible film. But in 2013, technology has had an exponential curve, and we're so far into the future that in 1987, we couldn't imagine where we would be right now. And for us, where society has come today, the concept of RoboCop really made sense to revisit. It was one of the great opportunities to meld a big-scale exciting action movie with some great philosophical and political questions.

9. The Connection Between Cops and Bacon Is Very Different in This Film.

Padilha: There is a classic moment from Joel and Gary , when Joel wakes up from the Frank Sinatra scene, and he looks at his hands and he says "what kind of suit is that?" and Dr. Norton says "It's not a suit, it's you". This is where we go away from Iron Man, because it's not a suit. He's become a robot, and he's become a robot because a corporation wanted to make a product, so his body has been transformed, distorted, his psychological reality has been molded for a purpose that's not his own, and that reminded me of Francis Bacon paintings.

Bacon paints figures, and he lights them isolating them from the rest of the painting and they're always twisted, and you can look at it different ways but either you can think about society deforming those people, or those people's own psychology deforming them. I decided first to put Francis Bacon pictures behind Sellars when he says "Let's put a man inside a machine," when he has that idea. And then I gave those paintings to the production designer, and I said design the lab after that. Design the docking station after Bacon, and let's design the scene where RoboCop is set apart - you have a lung, a hand and brain - after that Bacon picture.

And if you take a look at the picture, and what the design is, they're really similar. So the whole Chinese lab was designed so we could have the docking station lit like a Bacon painting. For instance, we isolate RoboCop in the center of the room, leave him alone in there, and we could have the open-up of his body to look like a Bacon distorting painting.

Oldman: I just thought it was an action movie.

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