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Trivia / RoboCop (1987)

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  • Awesome, Dear Boy: This is part of the reason why Paul Verhoeven did the film. He initially rejected the opportunity to direct it when he read the script and thought it was silly and stupid. He changed his mind when his wife convinced him that there were more layers to the story than he initially thought (such as the Jesus parallels), and because the writers pointed out the amount of Gorn there was, to which he responded "Well, I've never seen the hero get his hand blown off!"
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  • Blooper: Near the end when Lewis shoots Leon with the assault cannon, the firing of the weapon causes the camera lens protector to fall off, which made it into the final product. You can see it here if played at .25 speed.
  • California Doubling: This movie had Dallas fill in for Detroit, especially noticeable in the shots that show Reunion Tower. Also of note, Dallas City Hall served as OCP's headquarters, although the real building is only 7 stories high, and special effects were used to make it taller. Dallas had a building boom in the 1980s, which gave its skyline a more futuristic look than what Detroit had at the time.
  • Cast the Expert: The paramedics attempting to resuscitate Murphy after he is shot up with holes were played by a real trauma team. They were allowed to improvise their lines, and on the DVD commentary the writers mention how it turned out better than what they ever could have thought up. One reason it worked so well is that the image of a trauma team working on a dying man in such a calm, emotionless, business-like manner feels incredibly creepy. Most people expect the ER team to act like they do on TV.
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  • Cast the Runner-Up: Kurtwood Smith originally auditioned for Dick Jones, and when he first learned he had been cast, he thought that was the role he had gotten. Not until later did he find out he would be playing Clarence Boddicker. Later still, he discovered the reason: being Dutch, Paul Verhoeven had grown up near the Holocaust, and thought that, when wearing glasses, Smith resembled Heinrich Himmler. Smith apparently agreed with the idea, stating that a bigger, more menacing villain would come across as someone who could merely be outsmarted, while his character's glasses made him look smarter and therefore more of a threat.
  • Completely Different Title: Became The Knight of the Street in Iceland.
  • Darkhorse Casting: At the time of the making of the film, Peter Weller was a barely known method actor whose notable credit include the title role of Buckaroo Banzai from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. However, after this movie, Weller became a well-known name for this role.
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  • Deleted Scene: The film originally ended with another faux-TV program interviewing Lewis from her hospital bed and showing that she had survived the movie. Verhoeven cut it after noticing how invested test audiences got with the previous scene, with many viewers shouting "Murphy!" before Robocop said it was his name, and he decided that the movie would be more powerful if it ended right there. Nevertheless, the scene is reinserted in some TV versions.
  • Dueling Movies: Not so much at the time, but in retrospect with The Running Man. Both movies:
    • Were released in 1987, take place twenty minutes in the future, and are set in a dystopic society where an elite few live in luxury while the masses live around them in squalor. Possibly intentional but both could be seen as satire of Reagan's America.
    • Despite their future setting the hairstyles, fashions, music, and other things are so 80's it's painful.
    • Are ultraviolent movies with an undertone that violence as a form of entertainment is bad.
    • Feature two villains who (at the time) were Playing Against Type. Richard Dawson and Jim Brown in The Running Man and Ronny Cox and Kurtwood Smith in RoboCop.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • When Boddicker spits blood onto Sgt. Reed's desk and says "Just give me my fucking phone-call!", the actors playing the cops in the scene weren't told Kurtwood Smith was going to spit out blood. Reed reflexively backs away and says "Shit!"
    • In the infamous "Don't touch me, man!" sequence, Paul McCrane and Ray Wise were kept apart so that the first time Leon sees Emil melting like cheese off a pizza, it was the first time that Wise sees McCrane in makeup, ensuring that his look of fear and yell of terror were real.
  • Hostility on the Set: Peter Weller's attempt at Method Acting during the first few weeks, insisting that he be called "Murphy" or "Robo" (depending on the scene) while on set, didn't earn him brownie points, but the collective ire of Paul Verhoeven and co-stars Kurtwood Smith and Miguel Ferrer. Verhoeven found it silly and told Weller he couldn't do it, Ferrer actively mocked it by intentionally addressing Weller by his real name, and Smith chose to ignore him for the first few weeks.
  • Inspiration for the Work: Edward Neumeier stated that he first got the idea of RoboCop when he walked with a friend past a poster for Blade Runner. He asked his friend what the film was about and his friend replied, "It's about a cop hunting robots". For him, this sparked the idea about a robot cop.
  • Method Acting: According to the "Creating a Legend" featurette on the 20th Anniversary DVD and the book RoboCop: The Definitive History, in addition to the above-mentioned Kurtwood Smith's suggestion of Boddicker spitting blood on Reed's desk, Peter Weller attempted this for the first few weeks of shooting, insisting the cast and crew call him Robo or Alex (depending on the scene) before dropping it. Director Paul Verhoeven thought it was too silly and refused to do it, Miguel Ferrer (Bob Morton) busted his chops over it, and Kurtwood Smith (Clarence Boddicker) refused to talk to Weller for the first few weeks.
  • Playing Against Type:
    • Prior to playing Dick Jones, Ronny Cox played nice guys like Lt. Bogomil. However, Dick Jones also set up a new type for him, as proven by Senator Robert Kinsey and Vilos Cohaagen. Kurtwood Smith was also known for slightly more refined and elegant characters (while still bad guys) and not the unsophisticated thug Boddicker was.
    • Nancy Allen was best known for playing sweet girly roles and her long, lustrous hair was also common for her appearances, and this was the first role for which she cut it short.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Verhoeven got the idea to have Robocop walk on water when he saw the giant walls at the shooting location, and was reminded of the walls of Jerusalem.
  • The Red Stapler: The movie used then-new Ford Taurus for its police cars because the model looked "futuristic". Apparently, many police departments agreed that it looked like a fine police car, and by the mid-90's the Ford Taurus had come into wide use as a police vehicle.
  • Romance on the Set: That uninterested secretary Clarence tries to ask out? Yeah, her actress would end up marrying Kurtwood Smith.
  • Shoot the Money: The production team deliberately spent their money on everything EXCEPT Murphy’s death, purely so the executives would give them more budget to realise it the way they wanted.
  • Technology Marches On: Played straight and averted. The DPD Records Department apparently still stores everything on reel-to-reel tape, and the one human-usable computer not sitting in a rack features a painfully slow and kludgy GUI. Over at OCP, we have the giant wall o' monitors in the board room, all of which are CRTs; the media center sports a VCR. On the other hand, as shown by the playing of Dick's final taunts to Bob Morton as he died, CDs (or similarly designed DVDs) do seem to have become the norm of visual media but note that Bob's home-entertainment gear includes a reel-to-reel deck. Presumably, Robo's data spike is roughly analogous to USB, and to the middle finger.
  • Throw It In:
    • The politician being thrown to the ground was supposed to be just out of sight. The dummy they used for the scene had its legs kick up comically when it landed and was visible to the cameras. It looked too funny to leave out.
    • Kurtwood Smith liked to improvise a lot, as the scene of Boddicker and Sal trying to intimidate the other was improvised, as well as the aforementioned scene of Boddicker spitting blood on Reed's paperwork being his idea.
    • The stunt man playing the liqueur store bandit's reaction to Robo's first appearance was totally ad-libbed and just too perfect to not include.
      Fuck me... FUCK ME! FUCK ME! FUCK ME! FUCK ME!
    • Sage Parker's head technician character was not meant to fall over after giving Robocop a New Years' kiss at the researcher party, but since it fit so well with everyone's general merriment...
    • The nightclub sequence includes a split second shot of Paul Verhoeven dancing maniacally. Verhoeven was merely trying to get the actors to dance more frantically and never intended to appear in the film himself; the crew filmed him and included the shot without his knowledge because they thought it was funny.
    • The infamous "Bitches, leave!" line was also involuntarily provided by Verhoeven, who used it as a stage direction without being aware that the word "bitches" is offensive. Kurtwood Smith and Miguel Ferrer found the line so funny that they decided it had to be included in the scene.
    • Ronny Cox came with the idea of Dick Jones acting 'pseudo-flirty' with Bob Morton during their confrontation at the OCP restroom, instead of just being angry like in the script.
  • Troubled Production:
    • They didn't get the Robocop suit until several weeks into filming, when normally it should be ready beforehand so the actors can get a feel for how it moves and cinematographers can get a feel for how it looks. Peter Weller spent time developing the body language for the character and it was rendered useless because while the suit looked great he could not even walk. Filming shut down for several days as crews played around with the suit (mostly cutting out thick rubber round the joints) and Weller worked with a movement coach to make it work. He said originally Robocop was supposed to move uncannily smooth and efficient like liquid metal, and since the suit was so restricting he went for the opposite, very halted and every motion exaggerated. The first time getting him into the suit with make-up and prosthetics took 16 hours, by the end they had narrowed it down to 4. The very clean and shiny suit also showed the camera and crew in the reflections. They weren't sure how to deal with that until someone mentioned they should light him like they would a car.
      • The cast and crew have been left wondering how much Weller's wasted development work got to his temperament, as he spent of the production in a foul mood. It got so bad he started picking fights with the crew - luckily, however, this served to somewhat alleviate the situation since both Weller and the crew found these spats entertaining.
    • When the time came for the film to be rated by the MPAA, its first cut was given an X rating (the predecessor to the NC-17 rating used today), effectively alienating it from the majority of moviegoers that would be viewing the movie; the film's crew had to edit and re-edit RoboCop a whopping eleven times before the MPAA finally gave it an R rating. The original uncensored cut would eventually see the light of day as the "unrated" version of the film, included on most home media releases.
  • Wag the Director: Miguel Ferrer was offered the role of Leon Nash, but he demanded to play Bob Morton, whom he felt more interesting. Ferrer also played Morton more sympathetically than the pure Corrupt Corporate Executive of the script, causing a slight rewrite to better accommodate his interpretation.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Rutger Hauer, who previously worked with Paul Verhoeven on Turkish Delight, Soldier of Orange and Flesh+Blood (1985), was the director's first choice for RoboCop but was deemed too stocky for the suit once they realized just how big the suit would actually be— and how much bigger it would become when they had to start building it around an actual actor and stunt men. Arnold Schwarzenegger was also reportedly considered but was rejected for the same reason when they realized they would need a much thinner, leaner actor. Enter Peter Weller in his most iconic role. Tom Berenger, Keith Carradine, James Remar and Sylvester Stallone were considered, while Armand Assante auditioned.
    • Michael Ironside was considered for either Robo or Clarence Boddicker.
    • Robert Picardo auditioned for Clarence Boddicker.
    • Steven Berkoff was considered for Dick Jones.
    • Howard Stern was offered an unspecified role but turned it down because he believed the idea was stupid; he praised the finished film.
    • David Cronenberg was asked to direct, but passed on it.
    • Joe was originally supposed to have a much more gruesome death - in the original script during the climax he got knocked off a scaffold and was impaled on a pole when he fell, and would then be eaten alive by dogs. The finished film opted to simply have RoboCop shoot him.
    • Verhoeven wanted the death of Boddicker to be more gruesome as well - he originally wanted to have RoboCop stab Boddicker in his chin and show the blade going up Boddicker's mouth, but the censors didn't like that. Verhoeven then wanted Boddicker to get stabbed in the eyeball, but the censors didn't like that either, so he finally settled for having Robocop stab Boddicker in the throat (the director's cut features a more gruesome close up of this than the theatrical version).
    • The fourth draft of the script set the events of the film in 2043 or 2044, not 20 Minutes into the Future, and featured a much more technologically advanced Used Future.
    • An early version of Robocop's design has him very strongly resemble another helmeted lawman.
    • In the infamous Groin Attack scene, Robo was originally supposed to demonstrate his Improbable Aiming Skills by shooting the rapist in the head, narrowly avoiding hitting the woman, but when Verhoeven saw the actress standing with her legs far apart, he came up with the film version.
    • An alternate, less gruesome version of Emil's death was filmed, just in case the censors refused to pass the intended one. In this version — which is often used in TV edits — Boddicker swerves around Emil, who afterwards melts into a puddle of goo.
    • Two scenes were storyboarded, but never filmed. The drawings are shown on the DVD. The first was a scene where Robocop visits his grave. The second was a long car chase, an alternate scene that got them to the old steel mill (where Murphy died) after Robocop removed his helmet. The scene had Robocop and Lewis break up a riot, followed by a shootout with Joe and Emil with the Cobra Assault Cannons. Eventually, they retreat to their cars then the car chase to the old steel mill begins.
    • The OCP restroom was written as a luxury spa taking up a whole floor of the building, rather than just a restroom.
    • The bystander who catches Nash's gun after Robocop knocks it out of his hand and keeps dancing with it was planned to be played by screenwriter Edward Neumeier in a Creator Cameo, but he was unavailable for the shoot.
  • The Wiki Rule: Here ya go.

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