RoboCop > Making of


Movie Trivia
Deleted Scenes
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Making of: RoboCop
Creating ED-209

Death of Murphy
The Melting man
Movie Script

"Basically, it's the story of a violent cyborg with an identity problem." That statement, by co-writer Edward Neumier, neatly encapsulates RoboCop, a high-impact blend of action, humor, science fiction and satire.

RoboCop came out of a reaction to the later Eastwood and Bronson action pictures. If Dirty Harry wanted to get a cup of coffee at a diner, then first he had to kill five guys to get it. The excessiveness of these films struck RoboCop co-writer Ed Naumeier as a kind of desperation, an indication of how ludicrous the genre was becoming. It also suggested the implicit humor in that excess.

Collaborating on the script with Neumeier, himself a former studio reader and development executive, was Michael Miner. Both the writers always wanted RoboCop to be a movie that had its roots in comic books. Just before writing the script they had been reading a lot of comic books which were of the modern neurotic superhero type. Iron Man, Spider Man, Machine Man, the superhero that had trouble being a superhero. Even though they had these powers, there was something going on inside - a superhero with a headache.

Edward Neumeier first got the idea of Robocop when he walked past a poster for Blade Runner. The concept of a cop hunting robots sparked the idea for him about a robot police officer. Allegedly, while the two writers were attempting to pitch the RoboCop screenplay to Hollywood executives, they were stranded accidentally at an airplane terminal with a high-ranking movie executive for several hours. Here they were able to speak to him about the project and thus began the series of events which eventually became RoboCop the movie.

When their screenplay was finished, Neumeier and Miner took it to director Jonathan Kaplan who expressed enthusiasm for the project. The next step was to find an appropriate producer. At the top of the list was Jon Davison, a New York University alumnus and classmate of Kaplan. But not long after Davison was on board for RoboCop, director Jonathan Kaplan was offered to direct a different movie at Fox, A job he decided to take. This left RoboCop without a director and a long process of talking to many people and everyone turning it down started. Finally, someone suggested the Dutch director Paul Verhoeven whose other movies include Turkish Delight, Soldier of Orange and the Fourth Man.

RoboCop marked the first major Hollywood production for Dutch director Paul Verhoeven. Although he had been working in the Netherlands for more than a decade and directed several films to great acclaim Verhoeven moved away in 1984 to seek broader opportunities in Hollywood. While RoboCop is often credited as his English language debut, he had in fact previously made Flesh & Blood during 1985, starring Rutger Hauer and Jennifer Jason Leigh.Verhoeven wasn't initially impressed with the RoboCop script however. When he first glanced through the script, he discarded it in disgust. Afterwards, his wife picked the script from the bin and read it more thoroughly, convincing him that the plot had more substance than he originally assumed. A second reading of the RoboCop script convinced him that the story had merits beyond its action formula.

Before Peter Weller was cast, Rutger Hauer and Arnold Schwarzenegger were favored to play Robocop by Verhoeven and the producers, respectively. However, each man's large frame would have made it difficult for either of them to move in the cumbersome Robocop suit, which had been modeled on hockey gear and designed to be large and bulky. Peter Weller, a cult favorite for his performance in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, spent four months training with the New York-based mime Moni Yakim in order to properly convey the movements of a very tough, but somewhat confused cyborg attempting to deal with big city crime while striving to regain some semblance of his former humanity.

Stephanie Zimbalist, who at the time was one of the stars of the television series Remington Steele, was cast as Anne Lewis - NBC had cancelled Remington Steele in 1986, leaving the stars free to accept other roles, subject to options for further episodes on their contracts. However, an upsurge of interest in the show saw the network exercise the options, which meant Zimbalist was then forced to withdraw from Robocop, to be replaced by Nancy Allen.

Verhoeven intentionally chose to cast Kurtwood Smith and Ronny Cox against type by making them the central villains: Cox was an actor who until then was primarily known for "nice-guy" roles such as fatherly figures, and similarly Smith had been cast as more intellectual characters. Verhoeven chose to outfit Smith's character Boddicker in rimless glasses because of their intellectual association, creating a disparity in the character that Verhoeven found similar to the similarly bespectacled Heinrich Himmler.

The movie was originally given an X rating by the MPAA in 1987 due to its graphic violence, in sharp contrast to most other X-rated movies that received the rating due to strong sexual content. To appease the requirements of the ratings board, Verhoeven reduced blood and gore in the most violent scenes in the movie, including the executive shot to death by ED-209, Murphy's execution, and the final battle with Boddicker (in which RoboCop stabs him in the neck with his neural spike and Boddicker's blood splatters onto RoboCop's chest). Verhoeven also added humorous commercials throughout the news broadcasts to lighten the mood and distract from the violent aspects of the movie. After 11 original X ratings, the film was eventually given an R rating.[19] The original uncut version was included on the Criterion Collection laserdisc and DVD of the film (both out of print), the 2005 trilogy box set and the 2007 anniversary edition--the latter two were released by MGM and were unrated.

Regarding the omitted scenes, Verhoeven stated in the 2007 anniversary edition DVD that he had wanted the violence to be 'over the top', in an almost comical fashion (the executive that is killed by ED-209, for example, and the line about calling a paramedic soon after his demise, was meant as black comedy). Verhoeven also states that the tone of the violence was changed to a more upsetting tone due to the deletions requested by the MPAA, and that the deletions also remove footage of the extensive animatronic puppet of Murphy just before he is executed by Boddicker.

NEXT: Creating ED-209