Returning to Comic-Con for a big Hall H presentation, with its August 3rd theatrical release imminent, Total Recall is now finished and ready for audiences, and the fans were able to get a good idea of what to expect when it hits the big screen. The film is about a factory worker, named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), who begins to suspect that he is a spy after a visit to Rekall – a company that provides its clients with implanted fake memories of a life they would like to have led – goes wrong and he finds himself on the run.
During a press conference with director Len Wiseman and actors Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel and Bryan Cranston, they spoke about how they decided what to keep from the original, identifying with such over-the-top material, what excited them about the script, Cranston’s horrible case of pink eye in both eyes (that had to later be digitally removed from the film), the theme of paranoia about the invasion of technology in our society, building a futuristic world, and whether the sci-fi genre still has a lower level of respect than other genres. Jessica Biel also said that it’s still a bit too early to say that she’s signed on as Viper for the Wolverine film. Check out what they had to say after the jump. Also, check out our recap of the Total Recall panel.
Question: Len, what made you decide to keep the same characters for this, instead of just doing completely new characters set in the same world?
LEN WISEMAN: Well, part of that originated from the script that I had read, and those characters were in there. But, there are things that are definitely drawn from the film, as well as the short story. I was just really intrigued by the way that the characters were dealt with in this one. It was familiar characters, but done in a different context. So, the short answer is that they were alive in that first draft that was presented to me.
As actors, dealing with this type of subject matter, there’s so much over-the-top material in this movie. How did you grab onto that?
BRYAN CRANSTON: Actually, we took a very serious approach to the film. That was our approach to that. I didn’t see it as over-the-top, really. I’m being honest with you. I just approached it like any other character, personally. You find justifiable actions for what your character wants and how to behave. That’s how I approach it.
COLIN FARRELL: Honestly, there’s a whole canvas of extraordinary toys and effects, and huge concepts that are involved in telling this story and the realization of the film. As an actor you just treat it the same as you treat an independent film, only it’s a little bit more physical, every day.
KATE BECKINSALE: As actors, the advantage was that Len likes to do as much as he can, practically, in building sets that look completely fully realized, where you get to walk around and feel that they’re real. We were never dealing with a green screen and nothing. We had these incredible sets. We had hover cars that really were hovering, and that felt dangerous and scary. All of that stuff really helped me. It didn’t feel over-the-top. It felt terrifying, like it was really happening, a lot of the time.
JESSICA BIEL: Also, we’re existing in a world that’s in the future and we don’t have some of the technology that we have in this film now, but specifically for Colin and my character, it was just a human experience that you’re going through. Everybody can understand caring about somebody and, if they don’t remember you or they don’t know what happened, then that’s a heartbreaking thing. Everyone knows what heartbreak feels it. For me, it also felt extremely relatable and real and just very grounded.
Kate, people have become so accustomed to seeing you kick ass as the good guy and the hero. What was it like to play a villain?
BECKINSALE: Well, Len and I still are not really talking from the first conversation of, “There’s this part of the bitch wife, that I’m really thinking of you for.” That’s still a prickly subject in our house. But, yeah, it’s great! As the lead character, you have to be part of the exposition and taking the plot forward. As a villain, you just get to occupy your character and mess everybody up, all the time. As an actor, your motives and your own crazy psyche is really all you’re responsible for in the movie, which is a nice break.
What were each of you excited to see in this script, when you read it?
WISEMAN: The script itself doesn’t go to Mars, so that was a departure already. There were actually things that I brought into the script that I wanted to see, in this version of it. I actually made a list, when I was about to go watch the original again. I just wanted to write down the things that had stayed with me, over the years, and then watch the original again and make sure that some of those things that had stuck with me for awhile made their way into the film, but it’s always with a different kind of twist. Some things are more apparent, and other things are so buried in there with a different twist on them. I’m actually very curious whether some of the hard-core fans will be able to see what some of those are.
CRANSTON: The thing that stayed with you must have been the three-breasted woman.
WISEMAN: Yeah, that was on the top of the list. That was one of the things where I thought, “You can’t have a Total Recall that doesn’t have that.” There are too many fans out there, and I’m one of them – I was 15, at the time – who remember that.
CRANSTON: By the way, anyone who shows up with an implanted third breast, gets into the movie for free, so pass that around.
Hollywood is like Total Recall because you don’t know what’s real and what’s not. Colin, how do you deal with celebrity?
FARRELL: I don’t know. I try not to project what other people are thinking or feeling. That’s a dangerous game. But, I wasn’t always famous. There was life before this. I remember looking at celebrities, whether they garnered their fame as a result of playing football or soccer, or singing or yodeling, or whatever it may have been, and I’m sure I thought that their lives were probably beyond the realm of being affected, in the way that I felt normal people, such as myself, at that time, were affected by things, but it’s not really true. We all die. We all experience sickness. We all lose people we love. This fame thing or celebrity, or working as an actor and being paid very well, in the last decade or so, has allowed me to do incredible things with money, like getting my nails buffered and going on nice holidays in leading hotels of the world. I wouldn’t be doing that, if it wasn’t for acting and for a little bit of fame involved. But, I don’t know. I’m a lucky son of a bitch.
Who’s the better ass-kicker, Jessica Biel or Kate Beckinsale?
BECKINSALE: That’s a very rude question, considering we’re both here. But, I have to say that I think Biel might have been born at a sprint, and I was sitting down, reading a book.
BIEL: I would have to say Beckinsale because of that neck crotch-chop thing.
BECKINSALE: I learned that in the Brownies in Chiswick, England.
Did anyone get injured during training or filming?
BECKINSALE: I didn’t.
BIEL: I didn’t.
CRANSTON: I did. I got pink eye, in both eyes.
BECKINSALE: That wasn’t pink eye. That was herpes.
FARRELL: He looked like he’d been on a three-day bender Saigon in 1972.
CRANSTON: I had such horrible, horrible pink eye in both eyes, from the water. We had these fight scenes, in about eight inches of water. The lovely people that they are, the crew heated up the water, so that we weren’t cold all the time, but it became like a Petri dish. And then, someone told me, “You know how you get pink eye? From fecal matter. That’s how you get pink eye!” I said, “Colin, let me see your fingers.”
FARRELL: It was just weird.
BECKINSALE: Other than that, we were fine.
WISEMAN: I’ve actually had to go in and remove that pink eye. It was quite bad.
BECKINSALE: That’s how you get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
A lot of Philip K. Dick’s writing focused on the paranoia about the invasion of technology in our society. How important was that, to this film?
WISEMAN: It really was so far ahead of his time, and it was very important to me. I’m also just fascinated by it. The paranoia side of science fiction, I really love. I love science fiction because it’s an extension of where science could possibly bring us, and that’s not always a good thing. So, that paranoia and the what if was very important to me. Just imagine, if you were being told that you are somebody else, and not only being told, but being shown proof that you are that other person, and what that would actually do to you and how you would deal with that. That’s apparent in a lot of his work, and I’m just really interested in that. So, it was very important to me.
Len, what was it like to get to build a future?
WISEMAN: Man, I have been wanting to build a future world for a long time, probably since I was 14. So, in terms of how fun that was for me, it was something that I really enjoyed doing and had fantasized about. I wanted to put together a future world that felt relatable. I’ve seen a lot of future worlds put together in films, some extremely well and others that I questioned what they did with our world. So, I wanted to make sure that, as fantastic and otherworldly as this future world looked, if you traveled down to the base level, it’s still something familiar and it’s still got the same buildings that have existed for 100 years, and it is still connected to something that’s real. That part was massive fun for me.
Colin, do you look forward to dread the kind of physical preparation that goes into doing a film like this?
FARRELL: I was really excited about it. I hadn’t done something that was this physical in probably six or seven years. I knew it was going to be a long shoot, as well. The shoot was five or six months long and, every day, I was either running, jumping, falling, fighting, shouting, screaming, getting hit, punching or shooting. I was really looking forward to it because it was just the first time I got to work physically, for that long, again.
If you could wipe out everything, like in this film, and give yourself any career that you wanted, what would it be?
CRANSTON: I would be a baseball player.
FARRELL: I’d play soccer.
BECKINSALE: I would like to be Freddie Mercury at Wembley Stadium.
Len, do you feel like recall isn’t actually that far off from being possible?
WISEMAN: The paranoia thing is very attractive to me, and I would say that we’re getting closer and closer to that, with every generation. So, I don’t think it’s something that is that outrageous, that somebody could possibly experience. Whether or not that’s a good thing, this movie tells a very dark tale of that, and that’s possibly ahead. There’s so much escapism, right now. People create their own avatars. It’s an expanded, exploded version of what Dungeons & Dragons used to be because kids would create certain personalities that they were more into then their real life. With technology, that’s just continuing. Half the people that are out there on Facebook and such, who knows? But, I think it’s very possible.
Colin, can you talk about playing both Quaid and Hauser?
FARRELL: You’re playing two sides of the same coin. It begs the question, “What’s in a name, and what is the foundation from which man is born?” It’s the age-old question of nature versus nurture, and all that type of stuff. Basically, I’m playing somebody who, very early on in the film, finds out that everything that he thought was real and true in his life was a fallacy and an absolute fabrication. He thinks he’s cursed by not having a past because we all use our pasts as some kind of board by which to judge where we are in our present. He feels like a man alone and adrift, on an ocean of lack of self-awareness and lack of self-knowledge. But, I think it comes to pass that he’s actually blessed, in a way, because he gets to really be immersed in the present, in a way that he may never have experienced. By the end of the film, I don’t know which of the characters exists, either Quaid or Hauser, or some kind of amalgam of both men.
Do you feel that there is still a lower level of respect for the sci-fi genre?
WISEMAN: I take this genre as seriously as movies that are nominated. I think that comes from being a fan of the genre. Hopefully, the filmmakers that are involved are taking it as seriously as anything else.
FARRELL: It’s designed to entertain, man. That’s the bottom line. If we can provoke thought, or if there is some element of subversive commentary in the film, or if there is some idea of having an opinion about big brother or government, and the few ruling in a brutal and very self-serving way, and the idea of human beings not having as much control in our lives as we think because there are decisions made for us and there are very clear parameters by which we can exist, then that’s cool. But, that’s not why the film was made. Len and I spoke about that, at our first meeting, when we met. Then, we were like, “Fuck it! Let’s just have fun! Let’s 3D this shit!” No. If this film doesn’t entertain for two hours, then we haven’t done our job.
Jessica, is it true that you just got cast as Viper in Wolverine?
BIEL: That’s not totally true. It’s a bit too early!
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