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Milford Beacon
  • Michael Keaton, Joel Kinnaman talk about ‘RoboCop’ remake

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  • Outside of his native Sweden, actor Joel Kinnaman is best known for a supporting part in the film “Safe House” and a starring role in the current AMC series “The Killing.” When his agents called with news of a “RoboCop” remake, Kinnaman admits that he wasn’t very interested in the lead role of Alex Murphy, the Detroit police officer who is brought to the brink of death by the bad guys, then remade into part man-mostly machine through advanced technology. He changed his mind when he discovered it was being directed by Jose Padilha, the Brazilian filmmaker with “Elite Squad” and “Elite Squad: The Enemy Within” on his résumé. A big fan of the 1987 original, Kinnaman was also intrigued by the new script’s philosophical and political twists that complemented the big-scale action. But Kinnaman wasn’t quite prepared to take on his co-star Michael Keaton, who plays two-faced CEO Raymond Sellars, when the subject of RoboCop costume versus Batman costume arose at a recent press conference, and some good-natured complaints and comparing of notes came flying.
    Kinnaman: It was a bit of a challenge dealing with the suit the first time I put it on. It was a hot day, and it took an hour and 45 minutes to put it on. It was so uncomfortable. It was digging in everywhere. It was pressing down on my shoulders, and I was just sweating like a pig. After 20 minutes I said, “I’ve gotta get out of this.” I was thinking to myself that it was going to be pretty daunting to have to wear this 14 hours a day, six days a week for five months. But the suit became one of the first seeds that led my imagination into the vulnerability that Alex Murphy felt after he became RoboCop. It was an interesting contrast, because he’s got this body that’s so powerful, but he feels very uncomfortable. He’s amputated from his throat down, and he doesn’t know who he is any more. My little level of uncomfortableness sort of led me to think of what Alex would’ve felt times a thousand. I was surprised to think that the suit that should make me feel so powerful actually made me feel vulnerable. For many of the most emotionally demanding scenes I had to be completely still. If you think back to the moments where you’ve gone through the most pain in your life, or the most severe anxiety, your body is very much involved in that. So when we as actors try to access those feelings, your body is a great tool to use. You do something physical, like clench your stomach, and that helps your emotions along the way. In this instance I didn’t have that luxury.
    Keaton: A long time ago when I made the first “Batman,” I made a joke but I was actually serious. I said, “I worked the suit, man. I let that suit go to work for me.” But we didn’t know that the suit was even gonna work until just hours before we were about to start shooting. We’d already shot a lot of the Bruce Wayne stuff, but with Batman, I didn’t know what I was gonna do. So when I finally got in the suit, I went, “Oh, I’m in trouble, man. I’ve gotta really face this thing.” Because you couldn’t get out of it, and it didn’t totally work. So I’m very claustrophobic, and I get in this thing. Now, I drink a lot of coffee, I eat a ton of vitamins and I drink a lot of water, but I could do any of that because I couldn’t get out of the suit to go to the bathroom. So they put me in it, and I started having panic attacks, and I thought, “I don’t know how I’m gonna do this, man, I’m feeling really scared.” And then it hit me, just as Joel said, “This is perfect. This is like designed for this kind of really unusual dude. There’s Bruce Wayne, who has this other personality that’s really dark and really alone and kind of depressed.” So I just took all that stuff the suit was giving me, and I said, “I’ve got it. I know exactly how to do this now.” It’s odd how those things happen to actors.
    Page 2 of 2 - Kinnaman: I got no sympathy from Michael when I was complaining about my suit. He was like, “Shut up! You’ve got it easy. They had to glue my suit on. Now they have air conditioning in yours!”
    Keaton: I enjoyed every minute of watching Joel. I just sat there in my little business suit and laughed.
    “Robocop” opens on Feb. 12.
    Ed Symkus covers movies for More Content Now.

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