Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale & Bryan Cranston Talk Remaking A Wacko Sci-Fi Classic
After “30 Minutes or Less” at yesterday’s Columbia panel at Comic-Con 2011, “Total Recall” stars Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston and director Len Wiseman took the stage to show footage and field questions from the audience. “We’re halfway through shooting so we don’t have enough to put together a trailer, but I know not seeing something is a big bummer. So it’s the first sequence we shot; it’s a scene, it’s very rough, and it’s cut together with a lot of pre-vis.” Although he was certainly correct that the footage was incomplete, it clearly echoed the early sequence from the 1990 film where Arnold Schwarzenegger, as Doug Quaid, visited Rekall in order to have a memory implanted, only to awaken to an entirely different reality.
Following the clip, which offered plenty of action, each of the actors introduced their characters. “I play Douglas Quaid, an Austrian expat who rises to prominence in the world of bodybuilding,” Farrell said jokingly. “It leads to a very successful career in film only to find out that it’s the perfect foundation for a career in politics.” Wiseman, meanwhile, indicated it was simply the script which drew him to the project: “I was really gripped by the direction that the script went into,” he revealed. “That and a love for both the film and the Philip K. Dick story. I’m fascinated by the reality vs. fantasy aspect to it, and wanted to dive a little deeper into that character’s struggle.”
Cranston plays Cohaagen, the film’s erstwhile villain. He said that the key to making a role like this work is keeping the character rooted in reality. “The sequences not only have to be plausible, but we want the audience to be invested in the characters and the story itself. The more we can pull the audience in, the more they’ll enjoy the ride when it comes to the big explosions and things like that.” Farrell, on the other hand, said that he responded to the opportunity to take on something with a slightly bigger scope than many of the projects he previously worked on. “I was kind of tinkering with the idea of if something of a bigger scope came along, than what I’ve been doing for the past five or six years previous, I’d be open to it,” he said. “I loved the original, and when I read this I thought it was different enough that it didn’t tread the same ground – and it could have.”
When an audience member asked Kate Beckinsale whether she had any trepidations about stepping into a role that Sharon Stone played in the original, she said, “I do now. I was kind of okay until you said that.” When Farrell quipped that she probably would have had more pressure jumping into a “Basic Instinct” remake, she said, “I’m doing that pose right now under the table,” referring to Stone’s now-infamous leg-crossing scene. Farrell raced to lift the tablecloth in front of where she was sitting, and she laughed before explaining how she was approaching the role. “It’s a very different movie tonally anyway, and I think the relationship I have in the movie with Colin is in broad strokes similar to the one that Arnold and Sharon Stone have. But I think – and I hope I’m not wrong – that we’re not trying to recreate it or compete with it.”
As the segment wound to a close, Wiseman talked about the appeal – and the opportunity, of creating these sequences practically rather than digitally. “I like to see what I’m putting together, and I like to put it together. As a director you like to shoot as much as you possibly can, and the best way to do that is build it and create it and put it on your set and shoot it. And that’s going away, a lot.” He indicated he liked the energy that audiences get from watching something happen that’s shot practically. “I think there’s an excitement level to something that’s real,” he said. “I think there’s a difference between a really great visual effect and something real, and one’s a response saying wow, that’s a really great special effect, or, oh my god are they going to make it? I think you have more of a reaction to something that’s real and you can feel it.” — Todd Gilchrist [Photos: EW/JustJared]