We Got This Covered: Were you surprised that there weren’t more lines of dialogue closer associated with the original?
Colin Farrell: No. If you’re trying to be different for the sake of being different, then as a general rule, you’ll probably get yourself in a bit of trouble eventually. I think the same rule holds if you’re doing a remake. If you can somehow manage to find a way to have some level of unique storytelling and filmmaking when something is being revisited, while still honoring the context and the story of that thing you want to remake in the first place, well that’s probably a really smart move. I think that’s what the writers on Total Recall seemed to manage. I certainly felt that way when I read it.
There are no one-liners in the film. I like that it went in a different direction. I like that there’s no Mars in the third act. Even though, I was annoyed as a film fan thinking “Aw, there’s no Mars, no mutants, no little person with a machine gun on a bar shooting people.”
The fan in me was going through the things he wanted in the film, but that was the fan in me. He’s a nice guy and stuff, but he’s ten and I say that without any judgment, but I didn’t want him making creative decisions in the film. There was literally a couple more things I would have liked to see in the remake, but I went “No, trust what this is. Trust that it’s different. Trust that it’s a new vision of a story already told,” and that was it.
We Got This Covered: With the current state of the economy, do you think the story of a guy looking to go somewhere to get an escape makes it even more relevant today?
Colin Farrell: Yes. I think anything that is external of the self used to experience some escape from where we find ourselves in our lives at any time, there’s usually some catch inherent in something like that, whether it’s booze or drugs. Maybe the catch is anything that exceeds moderation can get a little bit messier. The catch with this is implicit. When I ask Bokeem’s character if he’s heard of Rekall and he goes “Oh, they mess with your mind,” it alludes to the fact that the science isn’t completely down yet.
The way Len wanted to design it kind of suggests that it’s a little more back-alley than it was in the original. There’s no doubt that every day we’re looking for meaning in our lives. Every single one of us is. I think that starts very young. You’re looking at your parents, if you’re fortunate enough to have both parents, one parent, foster care or whatever it may be, you’re constantly looking for meaning. You’re looking for where you fit in the grand scheme of things.
Total Recall was first and foremost a big action film, there was plenty of existential questioning that I could afford myself as an actor approaching the material about the nature of personality and character and the relevance of history and background. Of course, Quaid finds himself as a new man who is rid of every kind of memory he has in life. Everything that he believes is true, real and experienced is shown to be a fabrication ten or fifteen minutes in. He has no idea who he is. He just has certain feelings and suspicions and doubts more than confirmations. The whole story is him looking to, whether it’s psychologically, emotionally or a marriage of both, confirm to himself who he is.
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