Roundtable Interview With Len Wiseman On Total Recall

Director Len Wiseman is probably best known for his contribution to the Underworld series, which stars his wife Kate Beckinsale. Now, the director is teaming up with his wife again and this time it’s for Sony’s Total Recall remake, which stars Colin Farrell in the lead role.

Opening to mixed reviews last Friday, the film is a remake of the 90’s action flick that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. Though Wiseman has decided to do away with some of the key plot elements from the original film, he has still created a rather enjoyable and entertaining sci-fi flick that I, for one, enjoyed watching.

At the film’s recent LA press day, we had the chance to sit down with Wiseman who talked with us about a number of things, including how he came up with the look for the film, what it’s like directing his wife, changes he made from the original film and more.

Check it out below.

We Got This Covered: I noticed that while some parts resembled Blade Runner, other parts looked more contemporary. How did you come up with the look of the film?

Len Wiseman: I definitely wanted something that felt relatable. It’s set many years in the future, but if you travel down to the base of that world, it’s very relatable and not too different from our own world. It never makes sense to me when you’re presented with a futuristic city that it’s somehow as though they’ve taken everything we know about our world, bulldozed it and put it into some kind of world storage and started from scratch. I thought we’d never do that.

We have buildings that are hundreds of years old that still stand and you’d build from that. So, that kind of started the design of things. I wanted to be very fun and kind of fantastical, but very relatable. Even the way we designed the world, my production team, I didn’t want the buildings themselves or even the world itself to look that different. It’s more of how it’s built out and how the layers are literally plateaus of other layers of city, not necessarily what the buildings look like. The buildings still look like buildings of today. Otherwise, you get into a Jetsons kind of environment.

The same thing with the wardrobe. It doesn’t make sense to go to the future and suddenly everyone has horrendous taste and they start wearing these silver and gold lamé jackets and things I never quite grasped. I wanted it to be relatable.

We Got This Covered: The original Total Recall won awards for its special effects. Was there pressure to make the new version bigger and bolder?

Len Wiseman: There’s always that hope. But in terms of the pressure, if it were something that came out two years ago, maybe, but it’s so different now. The movie is 20 years old, so the video effects and graphics are so much more advanced, it’s not even the same process anymore. Just because of the time difference, it’s already in such different atmospheres, I think.

We Got This Covered: How is the tightrope creatively between acknowledging parts of the original movie to establishing the fact that this is a new take on the story?

Len Wiseman: It’s a delicate balance. It’s a weird thing, because you want to be able to have fun with what is familiar so you don’t have “Well, why are they calling it Total Recall if it’s completely different?” I had a bit of this on Die Hard, even though it wasn’t a reboot. Still, there are moments and elements that people associate with the Die Hard franchise. If you don’t include them, they don’t feel like it’s a Die Hard film, because they’re so attached to it, but if you include too much of them or do things that are too similar, then they’re too similar. The script for this film though was such a departure from the original. Our film doesn’t even go to Mars.

We Got This Covered: Not having the characters go to Mars is probably what stands out the most in the reboot. What went into the decision to keep the story earthbound?

Len Wiseman: I would say it’s the thing that attracted me to the script. Honestly, I actually read it with a bit of hesitation. I got a call from Neal Moritz. He told me they had a script. I’d always wanted to work with Neal and I really read it because of him. I had just come off of Die Hard a while ago and had a Hawaii Five-O pilot that I’d done and I didn’t want to do a known title.

So, I really went into it with some trepidation and really convincing myself why I shouldn’t do it. I read it and it was one of those scripts that as I’m not wanting to like it, I’m getting drawn in thinking “Oh (expletive), this is pretty good.” When it reaches the part where it didn’t go to Mars, I remember thinking “That’s odd. Why aren’t we going to Mars?” but immediately I was hooked.

I had no idea where this is going, no idea what this adventure is. That kept me turning the pages thinking “Where are they going now?” That was exciting to me. That’s what got me invested in it. If it had gone to Mars, it seems like it’s so much of the same film. Hopefully, a lot of people feel the same.

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