Trivia / Total Recall (1990)

  • Actor-Inspired Element: The concept of Quaid being a physically-buffed construction worker was suggested by Arnold Schwarzenegger himself.
  • California Doubling: Mexico City
  • Completely Different Title: Apparently translating the title was difficult, leading to things such as Voyage au centre de la mémoire ("Journey to the Center of the memory"), O Vingador do Futuro (The Avenger of the Future), Desafio Total (Total Challenge), Atto di forza ("Act of (brute) force")... And all of those are completely different from the original short story's, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.
    • That's why in Romania, where foreign movies are subtitled not dubbed, they didn't even bother with a translation. The movie was marketed as Total Recall. Same for the sequel.
    • The Chinese titles include Running in Hell and Hero of the Universe.
  • DVD Commentary: The one for this film is particularly hilarious. For one, Verhoeven's Dutch accent, coupled with Schwarzenegger's Austrian accent, serve to make it almost unintelligible. Schwarzenegger's commentary consists almost entirely of making jokes about the three-breasted hooker and a grating tendency for stating the patently obvious ("This is me as a construction worker", "I used this guy as a Human Shield and then threw him down the escalator"). Verhoeven for his part has a Verbal Tic that leads him to end most of his sentences with "Izznit?" All throughout Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger have a running argument about the true meaning of the film with Verhoeven insisting everything after the visit to Recall being a fantasy and Schwarzenegger insisting it was real.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: To get in shape for the movie, Sharon Stone pumped iron and learned Tae Kwon Do.
  • Flip-Flop of God: Paul Verhoeven on whether the events of the film were real or all in Quaid's mind. In the commentary, Schwarzenegger leans more to it actually happening, whereas Verhoeven leans more towards it being the ego-trip.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Robert Picardo was voice of and facial model for the "Johnnycab" robot.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Richter's actor Michael Ironside. Schwarzenegger noticed that Ironside was constantly on the phone between takes. When he broached the subject with Ironside, he was told the he was phoning his sister and that she was currently suffering from cancer. Arnold immediately brought Michael to his trailer and they had an hour-long 3-way conversation with Ironside's sister about what exercises she should do and what kinds of foods she should be eating. Ironside has never forgotten Schwarzenegger's kindness and neither has his sister.
  • Saved from Development Hell: Scripts had been kicking around Hollywood so long people thought the project was jinxed. Dino De Laurentiis owned the film rights and had tried to get the project off the ground twice in Rome and Australia. Originally it was less violent and more about the fantasy of taking a trip to Mars. Schwarzenegger was annoyed that De Laurentiis didn't offer it to him because he really wanted the part. Patrick Swayze and Richard Dreyfuss had been in the running to play Quaid but De Laurentiis ran into money troubles (not for the first time), so Schwarzenegger tried to persuade Carolco to bankroll the film and they bought it off him.
  • Science Marches On (Geology): Mars having an ice core turned out to be partially true.
  • Stillborn Franchise: There was also a sequel in the works briefly, before Carol Co Pictures went out of business. The rights went to 20th Century Fox who eventually turned it into Minority Report.
  • Technology Marches On: Although the film is set in 2084, an advertisement is seen for Fuji Film despite the fact that by the early 2000s, analog photography has been made all-but-obsolete by digital photography.
  • Troubled Production: The Mexico City shoot was considered a nightmare for most of the cast and crew. Many cast and crew members got sick at one point from contaminated water (the only major members of the production who didn't get sick were Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had remembered being sick during the Mexico shoot of Predator and took special precautions, and producer Ronald Shusett, who would give himself B12 shots each day to avoid illness) and the air was so polluted that Schwarzenegger recalled having trouble breathing on most days.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The late Christopher Reeve of Superman fame was reportedly attached to play Quaid at one point.
    • Nicole Kidman and Alexandra Paul were considered for Melina.
    • David Cronenberg was set to direct and even wrote a few drafts of the script before Paul Verhoeven took over. Cronenberg stated that he wanted to cast William Hurt as the lead, and was displeased by the producers' decision to reimagine the lead for an action star such as Schwarzenegger.
    • Over 40 drafts of the script had already been written when Paul Verhoeven agreed to read the screenplay. Some of them depicted Quaid as a mild-mannered accountant (instead of a construction worker). Most scripts had a similar first half (Quaid visits Rekall and starts having altered memories), but they all varied widely in the ending. One of them even had Quaid discover that he was really an alien in human disguise.
    • Jeff Bridges, Matthew Broderick, Richard Dreyfuss, Mark Harmon, and Tom Selleck were considered for Quaid.
    • Cynthia Rothrock was considered for Lori. According to Rothrock, she found out years later that she didn't receive the part predominantly because some of her would-be costars were concerned by the prospect of being outshone by a female martial artist.
    • Kurtwood Smith turned down the role of Richter, as he felt it was too similar to his role in RoboCop (1987).
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