STACI LAYNE WILSON  reporting
Actors Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston and director Len Wiseman were on hand at the annual SDCC on Friday to talk about the remake of Total Recall. It was a fun, wise-cracking panel, one of the better ones. My favorite response to one of the boilerplate questions was from Beckinsale, but I also liked how Wiseman answered (and, of course Cranston's chime-in. What's not to udderly love? )
Q: What were each of you most excited to recreate from the original Total Recall?
Kate Beckinsale: There’s another movie called Total Recall? You’re fucking kidding me! [laughs]
Len Wiseman: There were things in the original script that… like… they aren’t going to Mars. So that was a big departure already. There were things being brought into the script that I wanted to see in this version of it. There were certain things… I actually made a list and I just wanted to write down the things that stayed with me over the years. Put that together then I watched the original again, making sure some of those things that stuck with me for awhile make their way into the film. Some things are more apparent but some of the things are so buried in there. I’m very curious to see if some of the hardcore fans will be able to see what those are. I’m excited to see if they’re able to pick up on them.
Bryan Cranston: Anyone who shows up with an implanted third breast goes into the movie for free. Let everybody know about that!
This movie is about erasing memories. Do you have any memories you wish you could erase?
Kate Beckinsale: I’ve got, like, five.
Colin Farrell: One of the great effects of drinking too much is blackout syndrome.
Bryan Cranston: I don’t even remember what you just said.
Was what was the thinking in keeping all of the original Total Recall characters in the remake?
Len Wiseman: Part of the originality from the script, those characters were in there. Things are definitely drawn from the films as well as the short stories. I was just really intrigued by the way that the characters were dealt with in this one. They were familiar characters but done in a different context. The short answer was that the characters were alive in the first draft that was presented to me.
As actors dealing with the subject matter, this is such over-the-top material. Was it hard to gauge whether or not to do that at all during this version?
Bryan Cranston: Actually I took a very serious approach. I didn’t see it as over-the-top really. I’m honest with you…
Colin Farrell: Thank God he doesn’t watch playback. [laughs]
Bryan Cranston: They asked me how did you prepare for this, your character lives in the future. Well I would approach it like any other character and justify the actions of my character’s wants and how he behaves.
Colin Farrell: There’s a whole canvas of extraordinary toys and effects and huge concepts that are involved in telling the story. But as an actor you just kind of approach it. You treat it the same as an independent film. It’s just a little more physical.
Kate Beckinsale: He likes to do as much as he can practically. That’s building sets that feel like they’re real. We’ve got these incredible sets, hover cars that feel dangerous and scary that we’re in. All of that stuff really helped me. It felt terrifying, like it was real.
Jessica Biel: It’s also emotionally appealing because it felt like yes, this is a world that’s in the future and we don’t have some of the technology we have now. But emotionally it’s so appealing because it felt like yes, this is a world that is in the future. We don’t have some of the technology we have no but emotionally… It was just a human experience. It’s extremely relatable and it’s just really grounded.
Kate, what is it like switching it up and being a bit more of a bad guy in this film?
Kate Beckinsale: Len and I aren’t really talking a lot after he said “There’s this part of playing the bitch. I was thinking of putting you in it.” I think as the lead you are actually requiring as a character… you sort of have to be part of exposition but as a villain you get to be a character that messes everybody up. Your motives are your own. It is fun to open up that dark side.
Who’s the better ass-kicker, Beckinsale or Biel? And did anyone get injured while filming?
Colin Farrell: Celebrity death match! Comic-Con exclusive. [laughs]
Kate Beckinsale: I have to say Biel because I think she might have been born at a sprint and I was born sitting down.
Jessica Biel: I would have to say Beckinsale because…
Bryan Cranston: There’s only one way to settle this!
Jessica Biel: It’s just that neck crotch chop thing. She didn’t do it to me, but yeah…ouch.
Bryan Cranston: I got pink eye in both eyes! It was just horrible. We were fighting, we had these fight scenes in eight inches of water. So the crew heated up the water so we weren’t cold all the time. So it turned into a Petri-dish.
Did you look forward to more of the physical action aspect of this film?
Colin Farrell: I was really excited about this. I haven’t done something this physical in six to eight years. Every day I was either running, exercising…
Bryan Cranston: And then he went to work.
Colin Farrell: It was just the first time that I got to work like that in so long.
Is there still a different level, a lower level of respect of genre entertainment in the Hollywood community?
Len Wiseman: I wish they would separate it out like they do with the Emmys at the Academy. Movies are very different genres, but for me I’ve always… this genre I take it as serious as watching movies that are just dramas. I think that comes from being a fan of the genre that hopefully the filmmakers involved are taking it as seriously as everybody else.
Colin Farrell: But it’s all about entertainment. That’s the bottom line.
There’s still a lingering amount of paranoia pertaining to the invasion of technology in our society and in our minds. Was it important for you to keep in some of that?
Len Wiseman: It really was. It really was ahead of its time. It was very important to me and I’m also just fascinated by it. The paranoia side of science fiction I really love. I also love science fiction because it’s an extension of what science has gone, where it can possibly be and it’s not always a good thing. That paranoia of what if was very important to me and also from a character point of view about how you really process something like that. If you just imagine you were being told that you are somebody else and are being shown proof. What would that do to you? That’s apparent in a lot of his work that I’m just really interested in. So to answer your question it was very important to me.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is here for Comic-Con. Have any of you guys interacted with him?
Colin Farrell: No. He doesn’t write, doesn’t call. His phone keeps ringing and it's going to voicemail. He’s busy, he’s got his own stuff going on. [laughs]
The original film is so quotable. Do you have any favorite quotes from the first film and who does the best Arnold impression on set?
Len Wiseman: Colin, by far.
Colin Farrell: You’re always hanging me out there!
Len Wiseman: You channeled most of it with the grunts. I swear to God. Those grunts were the closest to Arnold I’d ever heard. You never fully got into it though.
Colin Farrell: I never actually use language in it. [mimics, Arg-Arg-Arg]
Len Wiseman: We had like… I wouldn’t call them one-liners but I think there’s this ability to have fun with a movie without being funny. It’s a distinction that I think is pulled off with this one.