Exclusive Interview: José​ Padilha on RoboCop

And you think YOU have a tough job: director José Padilha was tasked with remaking Paul Verhoeven’s beloved 1987 sci-fi classic RoboCop, in the face of doubtful fans who thought the very idea of the reboot was foolhardy to begin with (and that’s putting it mildly).

But if the pressure was getting to him, I couldn’t tell as I sat down on the couch beside him to figure out what he was thinking, what he thought he could add to the myth, and how – as a self-professed “RoboCop​ Geek” – he felt he could do justice to the iconic original. Whether he succeeded is left up to the audience (although you can read my review for my personal take on the movie), for now let us look instead at why he made the decisions he made, and why he felt that the time was ripe to revisit the classic story of a cop who became a corporate commodity.

Some MILD SPOILERS ​lie ahead.


CraveOnline: This movie got delayed a bit, so presumably you wrapped production a long time ago and now you’re being asked to talk about it like it was yesterday.

José Padilha: Well, movies with visual effects shots take a long time. We had a 1,250 visual effects shots, so we had vendors all over the world. The last visual effect I think we got was like two weeks ago, so it’s just how long it takes. [Laughs]


And this was your first big visual effects movie…



Were you prepared for that?

Uh… no. [Laughs] Not at all. I didn’t know how long it would take. I didn’t . I knew what I wanted to shoot, I knew what story I wanted to say, the cast I was looking for, but I didn’t really know the visual effects element of it and I’ve learned a lot actually. There’s so much intelligence and knowhow and creativity going into the movies by the visual effects side of it. Just think about the computer programs people use. Somebody wrote that code. It frees you. It gives you so many options that you don’t [otherwise] have.


For future films, would you be willing to go back to a smaller scale? Like, “We could shoot this on a rooftop, or we could shoot it on a green screen and make it a rooftop later?”

Always go for the rooftop.


Always go for the rooftop?

If I can make it real, I go for the real. That’s my instinct. I’m a documentary filmmaker. I like framing things that are there. Yeah.

I mean, the Tehran sequence, one of my favorite sequences in this movie, we open with Samuel Jackson crazy… I love when they say, “May peace be upon you. Please exit your homes with your arms raised for a scanning procedure.” That scene was shot on location. I mean, we built a set. It wasn’t “real…”


But it was a real physical space.

The buildings were there. You can do VFX, not necessarily in green screen, and I’d rather do that.


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