Hollywood will continue its assault on the films of Dutch director Paul Verhoeven this weekend with the rebooted version of RoboCop, and whether Joel Kinnaman is a worthy successor to the Robo suit — or the entire thing is just a heap of scrap metal — isn’t the issue here. Today, we pay tribute to the original savior of dystopian Detroit — the original RoboCop.
The movie gave 1980’s audiences their second bad-ass cyborg of the decade and a Jesus allegory that was splattered with blood by the end of the film. Its themes of corruption, authoritarianism, greed, and human nature are just as relevant today as they were in 1987, and its special effects makeup remains impressive.
With a new (presumably not nearly as awesomely bloody) PG-13 rated version on the way, now is the perfect time to roll out some obscure facts for one of the greatest sci-fi action movies to ever blast its way onto the big screen.
1. Director Paul Verhoeven initially didn’t film the crucial scene of Officer Murphy’s death. The film was behind production and over budget, and wrapped without filming Officer Murphy’s death (which would allow him to become RoboCop). After wrapping production, Verhoeven and producer Jon Davidson approached the studio with the information and were given more money to film the scene in a Los Angeles warehouse.
2. Learning to move in the suit was difficult for Peter Weller. The heavy suit was designed by a team led by Rob Bottin and caused considerable delays because of changes to the design. The suit didn’t get final clearing until the first day of shooting, which meant that Weller had no time to rehearse with it on. Naturally, this caused problems and production had to be halted for three days so that Weller could be coached on how to move while wearing the suit — which could take up to 11 hours to put on!
3. The studio was worried that real-life cops might object to the brutality. The studio was worried that RoboCop throwing Clarence Boddicker through the glass while reading him his Miranda rights might upset actual police forces. Not surprisingly, when officers were brought in for the test screening, that scene was met with cheers and applause.
4. The movie was pitched as a futuristic version of The Lone Ranger. The movie mimics aspects of the western classic from RoboCop’s gun twirl to Murphy being gunned down by bandits, only to return as a masked lawman of vengeance.
5. RoboCop didn’t wear pants while driving. Robo police suits didn’t function well with the cars of 1987 and Peter Weller couldn’t fit into a car while wearing the entire suit. That’s why you only see RoboCop preparing to step into or halfway out of his car. For the scenes with RoboCop driving, Weller wore boxer shorts and only the top half of the suit.
6. Director Paul Verhoeven referred to all actors by their character name while filming. This doesn’t seem like such an odd practice, but caused Miguel Ferrer and Kurtwood Smith to start laughing during Bob Morton’s death scene because Verhoeven addressed the actresses playing prostitutes as “b*tches.”
7. RoboCop borrowed The Terminator’s theme. For the original theatrical trailer Orion used the theme music from another of their hit sci-fi movies, The Terminator. Schwarzenegger was initially considered for the role, but producers were worried that he was too large and would look like the Michelin Man in the suit.
8. RoboCop is one of four sequel spawning movies directed by Paul Verhoeven. In addition to RoboCop, Verhoeven directed Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers, and Hollow Man, all of which went on to spawn less successful sequels that were not directed by Verhoeven.
9. RoboCop’s suit came with a hefty price tag. The suit was by far the most expensive item on the set and producers were given one million dollars to make the six suits used in the film. Three of them were made to look damaged from battle and the other three normal looking. The suits were so hot and heavy that Peter Weller was reportedly losing almost three pounds a day from water loss. Eventually, an air cooling system was installed to cool the actor down. Here are Weller’s thoughts on wearing the suit:
“It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, and — wanna know the truth? — it was the most difficult thing anyone’s ever done. They had to have air-conditioning ducts pointed at me, blowing out freezing air every 20 minutes.”
10. It wasn’t in the script for RoboCop to blow the rapist’s balls off. In the movie’s script, the rape scene is written with RoboCop shooting past the woman and hitting the rapist in the cheek. It wasn’t until filming that Paul Verhoeven had the idea for RoboCop to shoot between Donna Keegan’s legs and shoot the rapist in the crotch.