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Total Recall stars Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel and Bryan Cranston and director Len Wiseman met briefly with reports at Comic-Con International to discuss the upcoming remake.
The film, which owes much to Philip K. Dick’s 1966 short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale,” follows factory worker Douglas Quaid (Farrell), who seeks an escape from his frustrating life through Rekall, a company that can implant artificial memories, providing him with a virtual vacation. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, the lines between fantasy and reality are blurred, and Quaid becomes a hunted man, teaming with a rebel fighter (Biel) in an attempt to stop the leader of the free world (Cranston).
The actors were asked whether they had heard anything from Arnold Schwarzenegger about remaking his 1990 hit, leading Farrell to joke, “He doesn’t write, doesn’t call – he’s busy.” He followed that with a dead-on impression of Schwarzenegger’s famous grunting, eliciting cheers from the crowd.
Wiseman elaborated that while the movie will contain a couple homages to the original, he drew from both the film and the short story. “Familiar characters in a different context,” he said. The original script for the remake never included Mars, but the director kept his favorite aspects from the first film, and he’s curious whether hardcore fans will notice some of his more subtle allusions.
Cranston explained there’s little difference between making a sci-fi movie and shooting any other type of projection, saying he, “approached it like any character.” All the actors agreed, with Biel adding that the heartbreak of someone forgetting about you is “a human experience.”
Asked how it felt to play an evil character, Beckinsale joked that her husband, and director, Wiseman wanted her to play the “evil wife.” She said it was fun to be given a chance to mess with the other characters.
Asked which of them was the better butt-kicker, Biel and Beckinsale were diplomatic, pointing to each other. “She has that neck-chop thing!” Biel exclaimed.
Surprisingly, there were no injuries on the set, although Cranston hilariously shared, “I got pink eye in both eyes” from a pool scene. Wiseman added, possibly joking, that they removed the red in Cranston’s eyes in post-production.
Nearing the end of the press conference, they were asked how they felt about sci-fi movies never winning Academy Awards. Wiseman explained how he wished the Academy had a sci-fi category, especially as he’s “a fan of the genre.”
Farrell concluded, “It’s designed to entertain,” and while a message is fine for winning awards, the movie is about entertaining an audience.
Total Recall opens Aug. 3.