PD index

Questions asked by fans and answered by PD Co-writers Joseph OŽBrien and Brad Abraham.


QUESTION: Were any of the three previous Robocop actors asked to return to the role?

ANSWER BY JOSEPH: I'm not certain if Peter Weller was ever asked to return to the part, although at this point in his career I doubt if the idea of jumping back into the 60+lbs. RoboSuit every day for three months would have appealed to him. Richard Eden ( from the TV series) was approached, but for whatever reason it didn't work out. I don't know what the situation regarding Peter Weller or Robert Burke was, but I don't imagine that either of them would have been particularly willing to get back into the suit again after all these years.

I know that we discussed the possibility with Julian about getting Peter Weller back in the very early stages, but (obviously) nothing came of it. I suspect it was a combination of two things: money (just getting him on board would likely have eaten up 50% of our budget) and Weller's unwillingness to get back in the suit.

QUESTION: When you look at the film and TV series, what elements did you like and hate about them?  How are you addressing those concerns in your own production?

ANSWER BY BRAD: One of the great things about the original RoboCop was how you had a great action story with a strong element of human drama.  The successes and (in some opinions) failures of subsequent series/films usually had to deal with going too far in a "sci-fi lite" direction. Let's face it: he's a robot cop called "RoboCop" - if you take it too seriously, you're in as much trouble as you are if you play it for laughs. To that end, we at RoboCop: Prime Directives felt the most interesting think about RoboCop was Alex Murphy - the man in the machine.  A man who had his humanity torn from him, yet discovers some of it still remains.  We love the character and wanted to do right by him.  Look for a lot more of Alex Murphy grappling with his humanity, as well as the gritty action that made the original such a    success.

ANSWER BY JOSEPH: "Hate" is probably too strong a word, but there were certainly elements in both the sequels and the series that we felt could have been handled better. Turning RoboCop into a "kid-friendly" hero was a serious misstep, and one that we've tried to rectify with PRIME DIRECTIVES.

And, as you may already know, PRIME DIRECTIVES is giving the sequels and the series a fairly wide berth, continuity-wise.  We wanted to make a sequel that was true to Paul Verhoeven's original film (and Edward Neumeier & Michael Miner's original script), and so that was very much our starting point for our new stories.

QUESTION: Why isnŽt Ed209 in RoboCop:Prime directives?

ANSWER BY BRAD: I believe ED-209's owned by Phil Tippett Studios, who created him for the films. 

ANSWER BY JOSEPH: The ED-209 character is actually subject to separate licensing, due to some legal snafu that I couldn't begin to comprehend.  That means shelling out additional cash for the rights to use the character. Julian, Brad and I love ED-209, and when we started this project we bounced around the idea of incorporating a CGI-version of him into PRIME DIRECTIVES. Sadly, this was not to be.

QUESTION: Was, the skipping of the RoboCop sequels, something you thought long and hard of, or was it an easy choice?

ANSWER BY JOSEPH: Yes on the first, no on the second. When you assume the role of custodian of an existing character, you have to carefully consider each step of re-inventing him.  You don't want to alienate the faithful fans who have stuck with the character or lose the things that made him great in the first place, but neither can you be enslaved by the trap of continuity. The film sequels and the TV series contradicted each other on several points (most notably in terms of Murphy's relationship with his family, which figures heavily in PD), which was a potential hassle, story-wise, for us. We also had to consider the fact that a) some viewers might not necessarily be familiar with the sequels OR the series and, b) a great many people were less than thrilled with the direction the character took after the first film.  Our primary goal was to tell a cool, kickass ROBOCOP story, not tie up the loose ends of other versions.  Thus, we felt the best choice was to return to the roots of RoboCop and proceed from the events of the first movie alone.

That having been said, there's nothing in PD that significantly contradicts those other versions.  The reasoning behind setting our story ten years later was to just give ourselves some distance, creatively and temporally, to tell our tale, and not out of any disrespect for those earlier incarnations, nor the people responsible for them.

QUESTION: As youŽre acting as if Robo 2 and Robo 3 never happened. Is Anne still alive? Or is she still dead?

ANSWER BY JOSEPH:As far as we were concerned Anne Lewis is dead. Whether this happened in ROBO 3 or not we leave to the discrection of the individual viewer.

QUESTION: What elements of Robo2 and 3 did you find good/bad?

ANSWER BY JOSEPH:I think that there is great stuff in both those films, but I also think that they both went off the rails a bit, for different reasons.  Murphy's confrontation with his wife at the beginning of ROBOCOP 2 ("Your husband is dead...") is genuinely heart-wrenching, but that story element is dropped almost before it begins.  Ditto Phil Tippet's remarkable work on the Cain robot - the final confrontation is marvelously staged, but the film leading up to it is so muddled and unfocused that it leaves the viewer a little cold.  I think Frank Miller is a jaw-droppingly-good writer - we actually have mutual acquaintances, and I've been a fan of his since his days writing and drawing DAREDEVIL (we even pay a little homage to THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS in DARK JUSTICE) - but, for whatever reason, his style didn't translate well to the medium of motion pictures.

ROBOCOP 3 had some great moments as well, a great Basil Poledouris score, and I think Robert Burke did an excellent job taking over from Peter Weller. The idea of "accessorising" RoboCop with a gun-arm and a flight-pack was cute, but it really felt more like a real merchandising consideration (indeed, I have an 8-inch ROBOCOP 3 doll, complete with detachable gun-arm, sitting on my desk) than a joke _about_ merchandising, an idea that would have fit nicely into the ROBOCOP universe.  It also started the trend towards the more "kid-friendly" RoboCop that ultimately reached its nadir in the TV series, with a heavily-armed law enforcement cyborg who never killed anybody!

QUESTION: How long have you guys planned on doing the new RoboCop episodes before they became reality?

ANSWER BY JOSEPH:PRIME DIRECTIVES was basically a "go" project almost from the time we were hired.  We were writing the scripts with a firm start date set, which was both exciting and a bit nerve-wracking.  Tomorrow will actually mark one year to the day we started writing, and we're presently in our last week of shooting, so it's been a pretty rapid turnaround.  There is no greater experience than watching an army of talented technicians, craftspeople and artist descend on a location with the express purpose of making the words you've written into a reality - especially when that reality regularly involves the appearance of one of the coolest movie heroes of the last fifty years.

QUESTION: When It came time to bring Bonemachine to life,did you colaborate with the conceptual artists, or did you totally leave that up them?

ANSWER BY JOSEPH:Here's the description of Bone Machine, as it appears in the DARK JUSTICE screenplay:

steps into the light. Six-six, built like a Sherman Tank, all muscle. Bulky BIO-BOOSTER ARMOR augments his strength as well as his frightening appearance, turning him into a terrifying cross between ED-209, the Predator and Bane from Batman comics. A molded steel faceplate covers his head, a skull-like visage roughly painted over the front, with a LASER SIGHT mounted on its side. Thick power cables and ammunition belts run from a bulky backpack to the multibarrelled QUADRA GUNS mounted over his forearms, capable of firing a range of ammunition."

The production design team took it from there. We didn't have any input, design-wise, apart from the (slightly over-detailed) description above. The finished result is (more or less) how Brad and I pictured it; we even got the actor (Richard Fitzpatrick) we wanted to play the role!

As for the development of the armour, there's a scene where Cable describes the Phalanx BioBooster Suit as "a prototype Security Concepts was playing with six or so years back", so, in terms of the PD storyline, Bone Machine was designed some time after RoboCop rolled off the assembly line.

Our backstory for it revolves around SC's inability to replicate the success of the first RoboCop; when further research into cyborgs proved unviable, they turned their attention to cheaper (though less successful) body augmentation systems that would turn humans into mobile weapons platforms. One of the results was the armour worn by Bone Machine. But, as Sara Cable says, "most of it didn't work".