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Joel Kinnaman On 'RoboCop' And Why It's Different Than The Original

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Joel Kinnaman stars in "RoboCop." | Getty

Jose Padilha's "RoboCop" remake remains a mystery to me, other than the fact that it stars Joel Kinnaman as RoboCop and -- I assume -- is about a police officer who becomes a cyborg of some kind. On the plus side, casting Kinnaman -- who is best known for the role of the sometimes sketchy police detective Stephen Holder on "The Killing" -- instead of another run-of-the-mill hunk of the week is downright inspired. As is the rest of the cast: Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman and Abbie Cornish.

Plus, Padilha's is very respected as a director after his Brazilian "Elite Squad" films. On the downside, there's the recent remake of "Total Recall," which was also based on a beloved film from director Paul Verhoeven and didn't exactly light it up either critically or financially upon release. So, what's to say that this will be any different?

I met with Kinnaman -- our new Alex Murphy/RoboCop -- at his San Diego Comic-Con hotel to discuss just that: How is this "RoboCop" different than what we've seen before? (More on the "RoboCop" panel that happened at Hall H after our chat can be found here.

I have to admit, I know very little about the new "RoboCop" movie. What are the obvious differences between this one and the one we already know?
Well, I mean, the most obvious --

You're in it.
Well, that's one thing. But the original was made in 1986, came out '87, so the fantasies that they had about where robotics would be and what kind of influence that would have on society was much more of science fiction. Whereas now, in 2013 and 2014, that's become a reality. And we can see it's much our fantasies of where robotics is and how that would be implemented in military use and in law enforcement, but there's so many other aspects of our lives that are being automatized that is not science-fiction anymore. Or the ideas of that are already here. And there's a lot of moral questions that are going to be asked and need to be discussed in the coming 10 years. And, so, that's why it's a great opportunity to sort of reboot this franchise to discuss those things.

It does sounds different. But there's still no way it's not going to be compared to the original "RoboCop." In a perfect world, would you almost prefer it be called "Robot Cop", or whatever. So it's its own thing?
I mean, it's hard to say. Of course, you know, "RoboCop" is such a ...

There's name recognition.
You know what it is. It's the same thing with "Batman" and after some time is gone -- it's the same thing that we've always done when you look at theater plays. You know, we remake "Hamlet" all the time. That's sort of what we do, humans. When there's something good in a story, when there's something that really appeals to people, then we want to retell that. I mean, we've always done that since the caveman days.

I think people worried because of "Total Recall", because it was the same director. And I think that's on people's minds.
What do you mean same director?

I mean the original films were both directed by Paul Verhoeven.
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Well, I think fans feel ownership over the original and they don't want the remake to destroy it. If the remake sucks, then nobody is going to pay attention to that anyway. And if it doesn't suck, then it brings something new to the table and then it's something new to appreciate. So that's why I don't really buy that argument. But, in this case, there's many reasons why Hollywood makes remakes. Of course it's a money-making business and it's something that's already branded and, you know, of course there's always that aspect. But, for me, my guidance is always the director. And in this case, we have a phenomenal director, José Padilha. His "Elite Squad" movies were gritty, realistic, original.

He's an interesting director.
And he's a tough guy, too. Even though this was his first Hollywood movie, he has fought through to make this something original and not just another movie where we see a city get blown up in CG, which I'm personally very bored of.

I'm really happy that you said that.
There's a lot of CG in this movie, but I feel that it's put to use. I mean, of course, there's action sequences that are big action -- there's a lot of action in this movie. There's a lot. But I feel that there's a lot of story that's building up behind that action, so it matters. You know? It's not just mindless action.

Is it going to be as bloody as the original? A man is shot in the penis in the original.
No, it's not. I mean, Verhoeven had a very special tone and I find him one of the great directors of our time. And he had this whole idea of ultra-violence. And some of his movies were the most violent movies out there. And what he said was that when the -- what is that board called, the censorship board?

Yeah, yeah. And they would take frames out, of the violence, where you didn't see it and it became much scarier to watch because his violence was over the top -- and that made it unrealistic, in a sense. And this is a different director, so he doesn't have the same tone, you know? And it doesn't have that style of violence, but it's violent.

I've admired you as an actor ever since the first season of "The Killing." But when I first heard you were gonna be "RoboCop", it didn't register right away. Does that make sense?
Yeah. No, I mean, I get that. I mean, for me, it's -- you know, in this movie, we spend more time with Alex Murphy before he becomes RoboCop.

Oh, that's interesting.
We spend more with him when he's on the job and we spend more time with him and his family. We get a much stronger sense of who he was before the transition of the movie happened. And that is who the character is: Alex Murphy. So, that's the guy that I'm auditioning for. And then, of course, it's this guy that's going through this --experiencing being amputated from his throat down, pretty much. And he has all these new powers, but he's lost everything that matters to him. So, it's a lot of drama in it. It was very interesting for an actor to go through. And then it also sort of portrayed the artificial intelligence -- manipulation of his brain and how he loses control over his emotions and his emotions sort of recede. But he still has interactions with his wife and son, but he doesn't feel anything. And then it's sort of a struggle within him in his soul to sort of come back and sort of beat the artificial intelligence.

Did you like the suit?
Eh, I liked looking at it. Can't say that I loved wearing it.

Anyone who's ever been in an "Iron Man" movie always says that, too.
I heard Robert Downey Jr. got it down; his suit is mostly CG.

Yeah, he won't wear the suit anymore.
That sounds amazing.

You should write that in your next contract.
Yeah, for sure.

"I know I'm RoboCop, but I'm not wearing the RoboCop suit."
You know, I'm actually glad that I wore the suit for the character, because that was the way that he walked.

In real life, you probably couldn't fight crime wearing that suit.
You wouldn't be that effective. And don't try swimming in it. You'd sink like a stone. But it was good for how I worked out my movements and all that. I mean, I sort of had a sketch of how I wanted to be moving, but as soon as I put the suit on, it was a completely different pattern of moving. And of course, I'm not doing what Peter Weller did. And that also comes down to the idea of what a robot would be in 1987 and 2014. Our idea of a robot is more like a superhuman, you know? And his movement pattern would be that, as well.

Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.

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