The role, which was made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1990 film of the same name, is that of a “simple worker suffering from strange violent dreams.” From there, things take off and Quaid soon finds himself on the run as he tries to unravel the secrets of his past.
Recently, at the film’s LA press day, we sat down with Farrell and discussed with him his role in the film. The actor spoke to us about acting opposite himself, kissing the director’s wife, comparisons with the original Total Recall and much, much more.
Read on below for the full interview.
We Got This Covered: You had a couple scenes in Total Recall where you were acting opposite yourself. How was that?
Colin Farrell: Movie magic put me in. I remember Sam Jackson saying he loved green screen, because he was working with his favorite actor: himself (laughs). It was fun to do Quaid and Hauser. Hauser was after the fact. That thing on the piano was done 7 or 8 months after the film was finished shooting.
We Got This Covered: Did you go back and look at the original Total Recall before you started filming?
Colin Farrell: I did, but for no other reason than just boldness. Probably more to annoy myself and give myself a dose of the nerves, really. And to see if I could instill myself with any premature regret. I only looked at the film after I had signed on to do it. I’d probably seen the original four or five times in my life and loved it the first time I saw it.
I’ve said in press before that I wasn’t weaned on Arnie’s stuff, but I remember all of his films growing up, from Commando to Red Heat, from Terminator to Running Man and Predator, which still stands to this day as one of the great action films ever made, so I had an idea of what I was getting into. There’s a corner of the film fanatical society of the world that really loved that film and probably feels strongly against anyone revisiting the material, you know. It was different enough. Tonally, when I read the script, it felt so different, even though the plot points are the same.
We Got This Covered: This is the second Philip K. Dick adaptation that you’ve done. Did you read the original story?
Colin Farrell: I did read it. I just marveled about how many tiered levels of complexity that Philip K. Dick could achieve in such a short space of time in regards to the fracturing of a person’s psychology and the uncertainty of what was real and what was not. I did such a number on the short story. I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was brilliant. It was nothing like either of the films.
To me, the concept of the implantation of a memory and experience, that’s a fantastic concept, but how that is fleshed out into a feature length story in both films is incredibly different than the short story. I know I’ve read that “this film goes back to the short story” but I’m thinking, “No, it doesn’t. That’s bogus.”
I think, in reflection, that it may be a little bit closer to the short story just because there’s slightly more tension paid to the psychological journey and the existential crisis that Quaid finds himself in in the remake rather than the original. I may be wrong. I haven’t seen the film. I should maybe go and have a look at it, but I think I’ll wait until Wednesday. (laughs)
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