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‘RoboCop’ Director Recalls Arnold Schwarzenegger Helping Him Get ‘Total Recall’

Arnold Schwarzenegger had a part in choosing the director for 1985’s ‘Total Recall.’ Paul Verhoeven revealed how he joined the film’s team thanks to the actor in a recent interview.

Directed by Paul Verhoeven, ‘Total Recall’ made $261.4 million at the box office and was critically acclaimed for its casting. Playing the lead character in the film, Arnold Schwarzenegger was key in bringing the ‘RoboCop’ director onto the project.

Asked about the experience of moving from working with Peter Weller in ‘RoboCop’ to Schwarzenegger in ‘Total Recall,’ Verhoeven told Metrograph:

“Arnold wanted that part. Dino De Laurentiis didn’t want him. The character was supposed to be an account, not muscular, like Arnold. Then, it didn’t come to fruition with this Australian director [Bruce Beresford]. Arnold went to Carolco Pictures and told them to buy the script. [Co-founder] Mario Kassar did it immediately.”

Schwarzenegger’s Specific Choice Of Director

The script of ‘Total Recall,’ based on a Phillip K. Dick story, came from the pens of Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, and Gary Oldman. The film’s lead actor also wanted Verhoeven in this team, as the director explained:

“Arnold told him that he wanted the director of ‘RoboCop.’ Mario called me and said, ‘I’ll send this script over to your house. Can you read it as soon as possible? I want to talk about it this evening.’ I read it and said, ‘There is a problem with the third act,’ but immediately, I found a lot that was funny, good, and innovative about it.”

His words went on:

“We were sitting at the table at this restaurant. There were five or six of us. Mario said, ‘Well, do you think you can work with Arnold?’ I had met Arnold before by coincidence because he was friends with my editor, Frank Urioste. I said, ‘Yeah,’ because it was much more interesting if it was Arnold than an accountant. He said, ‘Let’s shake hands; you’re going to start tomorrow.’ There was no talk about money. It was just, ‘Let’s go do that.'”

Verhoeven’s Experience With The Actor

During a previous chat with Film Comment, Verhoeven described working with Schwarzenegger in this project as different and enjoyable. Comparing his work with the bodybuilder to filming with the star of his 1985 movie ‘Flesh And Blood,’ he said:

“Arnold is great. Switching from Rutger Hauer to Arnold is not that big a step. It’s strange to say that because he’s this crazy Austrian with an accent—but, for me, Arnold is the American Rutger. I think if I did a few movies with Arnold, I could do as much with him as I did with Rutger. Now, this movie was the wrong thing . . . But I think you can do much more with Arnold, explore more possibilities than was necessary for this movie.”

You can check out Paul Verhoeven’s interview with Metrograph here.

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