In 2028 Detroit, when Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) - a loving husband, father and good cop - is critically injured in the line of duty, the multinational conglomerate OmniCorp sees their chance for a part-man, part-robot police officer.
In RoboCop, the year is 2028 and OmniCorp – the world’s leader in robot technology – sees a golden opportunity to reap billions for their company. When Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) – a loving husband, father and good cop doing his best to stem the tide of crime and corruption in Detroit – is critically injured, OmniCorp grabs their chance to build a part-man, part-robot police officer. OmniCorp envisions a RoboCop in every city and will stop at nothing – no matter the cost to Alex – to make sure the program succeeds. But OmniCorp never counted on one thing: there is still a man fighting inside the machine.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Columbia Pictures present RoboCop, a Strike Entertainment production, starring Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Jackie Earle Haley, Michael K. Williams, Jennifer Ehle, Jay Baruchel, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, and Samuel L. Jackson. Directed by José Padilha. Written by Joshua Zetumer and Edward Neumeier & Michael Miner. Produced by Marc Abraham and Eric Newman. Executive Producers are Bill Carraro and Roger Birnbaum. Director of Photography is Lula Carvalho. Production Designer is Martin Whist. Edited by Daniel Rezende and Peter McNulty. Costume Designer is April Ferry. Visual Effects Supervisor is James E. Price. Music by Pedro Bromfman. Credits not final.
Man and machine unite in RoboCop, a reimagining of the 1980s cult classic, directed by José Padilha. In the film, Officer Alex Murphy becomes the star product of OmniCorp, the world’s leading robotics defense company. In a Detroit ravaged by crime, OmniCorp sees an opening for the perfect policeman – a robot that can clean up the city, without putting police lives at risk. Trouble is, the idea of a robot pulling the trigger makes people anxious. To get it done, they compromise: after Murphy is mortally wounded, he wakes up in the hospital mostly a robot, barely a man at all – but all cop.
For OmniCorp, Murphy represents a tremendous opportunity. “He’s a product they want to sell,” Padilha explains. “He’s a prototype. He’s been developed, just like a soda company might develop a new bottle: they’re trying to find the ideal design for a robot to sell to police departments. It’s potentially billions of dollars for the company, so they’re willing to cut a few ethical corners to get there. But they forgot something – inside the product, there is a man; it’s not just a suit, it’s a human being. They set up this invention that they think they can control, but they pick the wrong guy. They pick somebody too good, a guy determined to use his new powers for justice.”
“OmniCorp’s idea is that they need a man inside the machine, a man who makes the decisions so the corporation won’t be held liable if something goes wrong,” says Joel Kinnaman, star of the television series “The Killing,” who plays Murphy. “They leave his emotions intact in social situations, but when facing a threat or when a crime is committed, the computer takes over. When they realize his emotions make the system vulnerable, they completely shut them off. But when Alex comes in contact with his family, his emotions find a way back and override the computer system. He starts making his own decisions again.”
Kinnaman says he was attracted to play the role of Alex Murphy after meeting with José Padilha. “José described his vision – his philosophical and political ideas that could fit inside the concept of RoboCop,” says Kinnaman. “You could use that concept to talk about a lot of other interesting things. He wanted to make a fun action movie that discusses philosophical dilemmas that we will face in the very near future. And I wanted to be a part of that.”
“Back in the 80s, the idea of a half-man, half-robot could only take place in the far future. But it’s actually happening now,” says Padilha. “From prosthetics to drones to self-driving cars, this idea is becoming part of everybody’s life. It’s raising a lot of legal and ethical issues that we’re all dealing with. And Alex Murphy embodies all of those questions – what happens when you put the man inside the machine?”
Padilha says that his involvement with the film began by a fortunate twist of fate: “I had a meeting at MGM, and we were talking about movies I might want to make. They had a poster of the original RoboCop, and I said, well, that’s the movie I want to make. I think it’s a brilliant film, an iconic classic. I gave them my take, and they said, ‘Let’s do it.’ It was a lucky coincidence – a studio that had the right material, a guy who is a fan, and a poster.”
The producers of the film, Marc Abraham and Eric Newman, say that Padilha was the perfect choice to helm this new vision for RoboCop. “The studio took a real chance,” says Abraham. “They went to a filmmaker who had made some brilliant documentaries as well as two films, Elite Squad and Elite Squad 2, that became extraordinarily successful, particularly in Brazil – Elite Squad won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. They were excited about hiring a filmmaker who was out of the box to make a movie that was out of the box.”
“There’s a frenetic quality to José’s films,” says Newman. “You come away from his movies thinking, ‘That’s cool.’ But at the same time, he invigorates the movie with a point of view.” And, Newman adds, RoboCop provides a great framework to do just that. “RoboCop is just as relevant as when it came out,” he continues. José wanted to make a movie that worked on two levels – it had to be action packed and have that ‘wow’ factor with things no one has seen before – but also thematically relevant, with something to say about the world.”
“I think it’s fun to go to a movie, have a great time, and at the same time, come out thinking, ‘there’s an issue here,’” he explains. Through his admiration for RoboCop, Padilha saw a way to bring the story to the screen in a new and very contemporary way. “The themes of the movie are even more current today,” he says. “We are getting close to a world in which warfare will be automated. We’re going to have robots replacing soldiers and policemen. Right now, we’re beginning an intense discussion about drones, which are not automated – there’s a human being, observing from a remote location, deciding when to pull the trigger. But what happens when software, an algorithm, makes that decision? Everything in the movie is going to be in the real world very soon, and we’re going to have discussions about whether this is OK or not. It’s fascinating for me to have a chance to tackle this project years later, with the insight of all that has happened technologically, and try to recreate it in the current time for our current issues, but still keep the philosophical core of the original character.”
The issues aren’t just ethical or moral, but also practical. “Let’s say you buy a car that drives itself and the car loses control and runs over someone. Whose fault is that? Who gets sued? You, or the company that made the car?” asks Padilha. “Well, what if a cop makes a mistake and kills someone? Today, it’s the cop that’s to blame, not the police department. But what if the cop is a robot? All of these issues that come with technology can be discussed within RoboCop.”
And it’s not just political – it’s also very personal for Alex Murphy. “In the movie, people have to believe that the machine knows what it feels like to be human, so they keep Alex Murphy’s brain intact. He has all his emotions. He has all his memories. He has cognitive capabilities. However, he can’t hold his son or have sex with his wife,” says Padilha. “It’s a nightmare being Robocop. The movie is very much about the drama of this man facing the existential question – how am I going to go forward like this? Is Alex a machine or a human being?”
Even if the film has an existential element, there’s still plenty of cool factor. For the filmmakers, dabbling in robot technology was like an open playground. “One of the most exciting things to us – as filmmakers but also fans – was to create all the robots,” says producer Eric Newman. “We had a lot of fun with those. We have the ED-209s, the hyper-aggressive killing machines. We have the EM-208s, the humanoid-sized perfect soldiers.”
Production designer Martin Whist, who designed the various iterations of RoboCop as well as the ED-209 and EM-208, says that even as they let their imaginations run wild, the truth was right there to back them up. “Every idea we had for something RoboCop could do, it turns out, somebody is researching it now, in real life,” he says. “For example, there are people out there right now in the lab, who have sensors on their brains that allow them to move a robotic hand with their thoughts. We had this idea for a high-powered Taser gun – and it turns out that it’s being developed. Everything in the movie is based in reality.”
“It was imperative that the movie was grounded – it had to feel authentic and believable,” says Newman. “One of José’s great advantages is that he trained as a physicist, so his BS detector is very finely tuned. He questioned the scientific veracity of everything, and as a result, we have a movie that feels very legitimate.”
RoboCop himself has two separate and very different suits in the film. “The first suit was intentionally a tip of the hat to the original film and the original design,” Whist explains. “I wanted to stay with the coloration of the original design; the overall impression is silver, but – just like they did on the first film – we used a technique where there were multiple colors in it: there are magentas and deep blues in it. It’s a little less sophisticated than the second suit, a little boxier, a little less agile, and that was intentional to show the evolution from one RoboCop to the next.”
In the original RoboCop, the filmmakers used stop motion animation for the ED-209. For the new film, the filmmakers naturally chose visual effects. “When you first see the ED-209 in the original film, it’s such a memorable moment – but because of the type of animation, they were limited in the way they could move the camera or compose the shots,” says Visual Effects Supervisor James E. Price. “Now, we’re able to use modern tools, and we have a lot more flexibility. We can really integrate sophisticated motion and composites into those scenes. And that’s a perfect fit for José’s filmmaking style – he’s very active with the camera, very in the moment. We didn’t have to lock down the camera, and we could let the visual effects play out the way he wanted to shoot it.”
Joining Joel Kinnaman as Alex Murphy is an all-star cast, including Gary Oldman as Dr. Dennett Norton, head of the Omni Foundation, who creates RoboCop; Michael Keaton as Raymond Sellars, OmniCorp’s CEO; Abbie Cornish as Alex Murphy’s wife, Clara Murphy; Jackie Earle Haley as Mattox, who trains Murphy after his transformation; Michael K. Williams as Alex Murphy’s partner, Officer Jack Lewis; Jennifer Ehle as Liz Kline, OmniCorp’s Chief Legal Counsel; Jay Baruchel as Tom Pope, head of marketing for OmniCorp; Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Detroit Police Chief Karen Dean; and Samuel L. Jackson as Pat Novak, a television pundit.
Kinnaman says he was excited to work with Padilha. “We’re talking about a plausible future, but one that doesn’t exist yet,” says the actor. “He makes it very believable – not too outrageous or farfetched. We’re close to the world of this movie – we have bionic limbs, they’re attempting fake hearts. It’s still science fiction, but it’s a realistic leap in the future.”
Kinnaman was especially interested in exploring the ways that Murphy regains his humanity after it is stripped away from him. “Later in the film, Alex is supposed to have no emotions – Norton has reduced his dopamine levels to zero. But something compels him – he starts to search through all of the camera memories he has in his brain. He has access to all of the CCTV cameras in the entire city going back 20 years, and he starts searching for images of his son, his wife, himself, to remind him of who he is. And when he does that, his emotions start coming back. He goes back and recreates the assassination attempt on his life, he starts investigating his own murder. These components start bringing him back to life – it brings the humanity back inside of him. His family is the reason that he starts to regain his humanity.”
Kinnaman says that, like many actors, being in costume helped him to portray the role – even if this costume was by far a greater challenge than he’d ever faced before. “The suit weighs about 45 pounds. It was constantly uncomfortable, constantly at the wrong temperature, either too hot or too cold. But that was very helpful. As awkward as I felt being in there, I realized that it paled in comparison to what Alex Murphy was feeling. I might have felt insecure and naked – because, weirdly, you don’t wear clothes in the suit – but Alex would have felt 100 times that weirdness. It completely helped my character.”
Despite the physical discomfort of the suit, Kinnaman sought to express the way that RoboCop represents the cutting edge in robotics through his character’s movements. Gone are the days of the clunky and jerky robotics. “They are getting very good at making humanoid droids move very realistically – for example, in Japan, they have nursing droids with very soft movements that give comfort to old people,” Kinnaman notes. “So the idea we had for RoboCop’s movement was that it would be superhuman: everything would work exactly as it should on a human body. He walks perfectly, extremely fluid.” Still, they couldn’t resist making a small nod to the past. “We also did want to make a small homage to the way Peter Weller moved – for example, when I was walking, I’d turn my head first and then the shoulders afterward.”
Kinnaman did extensive research before taking on the part. “Alex Murphy is a seasoned SWAT cop – he knows his stuff. So I had to know my stuff, too, to make it look accurate,” he says. “I had to learn how to handle a gun better than I could before. For some of my previous projects, I had worked for a couple of days with Swedish special forces, so I continued working with them for another two weeks. I also worked with Uncle Scottie, who was an LA Metro cop for 25 years and 10 years in SWAT.”
In many ways, the key relationship in the film is that between Alex Murphy and Dr. Norton, the scientist who creates RoboCop. “The relationship between Alex and Dr. Norton is very complicated – in some ways, it’s very much like Dr. Frankenstein and the monster,” says Kinnaman. “There’s trust – that trust is broken – and the trust is rebuilt. It almost becomes a strange father-son relationship.”
“Their relationship is complicated – it’s like a father and son at times,” says Oscar® nominee Gary Oldman, who plays Norton. “Alex is an experiment that Norton becomes emotionally attached to. And for someone as obsessive as Norton, he’s a challenge that can’t be overlooked. Every parent has the moment when they prove to be a disappointment to their child – and that’s what Alex experiences with Norton.”
“Norton is a bionic engineer – a scientist, a brain surgeon on steroids,” says Oldman. “He’s very clever, very smart – maybe too smart for his own good. He’s pioneering technology for amputees and veterans – giving them a second chance, a new lease on life.”
But his work takes a turn when he takes on his greatest challenge – Alex Murphy. “He’s under a lot of pressure to get RoboCop out on the streets – even though he might not be ready,” says Oldman. “Norton is in a real pickle. He has to go against everything he believes in as a doctor – that’s where all of the ethical and moral problems start.”
Like Kinnaman, Oldman was persuaded to join the project when he heard Padilha’s take on a new vision for RoboCop. “José’s work is both original and subversive,” says Oldman. “For all intents and purposes, he’s an indie filmmaker coming to pop culture – dipping his toe in that, and making it smart, too.”
Michael Keaton plays Raymond Sellars, the CEO of OmniCorp. Padilha says that though Sellars is ostensibly the film’s villain, he wanted to portray a fully human character – one who is almost right. “There’s a very good case for using robots at war, or for law enforcement: robots are not corruptible, they don’t get tired, they don’t have prejudice, they’re not racist,” he explains. “Sellars makes that case brilliantly. He’s not the usual bad guy – he goes wrong, but he makes total sense.”
“Raymond Sellars wants to be part of changing the world,” notes Keaton, “so he becomes the linchpin in this whole conversation – the question of whether this use of this technology is correct or incorrect, moral or immoral. He’s a bright guy who is extraordinarily ambitious, a big thinker, an amateur futurist but also very practical. He manipulates Norton, but not because he’s evil or a liar – he has an agenda, and he tells Norton exactly what he wants done and how he wants Norton to do it. He’s so convinced that he’s right.”
In playing the role, Keaton went to the highest sources to get some background into the cutting edge of the technology. “I learned a lot, because I had to know a lot about Sellars’ world in order to be honest on screen,” says Keaton. “I talked to some roboticists from MIT and a friend of mine who had written a book – a guy I’ve known 20 years. It’s extraordinary what they’re doing with robotics – how we’re going to live. One of the men I spoke with was a mountain climber who years ago got lost in a snowdrift and lost his legs to frostbite; well, he still climbs and he helped create the technology that lets him do that. There’s technology in which the brain sends a message to a nerve, and the nerve reacts as though a prosthetic leg were a real leg; I talked to a veteran who has one of these prostheses and he said he thinks about his prosthesis as being part of him. José is way deep into this stuff – these areas that have more questions than answers.”
The role of Clara, Alex’s wife, is played by Abbie Cornish. “Clara's a very grounded, strong and intelligent woman – a loving wife and mother,” says Cornish. “Her family epitomizes a happy working middle class family, whose lives are then torn apart by the events that unfold in the film. However, the bond and connection between the Murphy's holds strong, and provides a very human and emotional through line to Alex's journey after he becomes RoboCop."
Cornish says that Clara is placed in the position of a particularly grim choice. “Sellars and Norton are looking for the most likely candidate to be transformed into RoboCop, and when they select Alex, it’s Clara who has to make the ultimate decision and sign the documentation,” she explains. “How do you make that choice? When you’re told that your husband will die without it, but if he goes forward with the procedure he will change entirely? What would you do?”
Jackie Earle Haley, an Oscar® nominee for his role in Little Children, takes on the role of Mattox, an ex-military operative now working for OmniCorp, charged with making sure that all robotic technology passes military-level muster – and that includes RoboCop. “He has a serious military background, but finds himself in a privatized world working for OmniCorp,” Haley explains. “He’s definitely a button-down guy, but he’s also a little snarky, with an attitude. He really loves his robots – and in fact, he thinks of his robots as minimizing risk. He knows exactly what the robots are going to do. That’s why he’s got a problem with RoboCop – he thinks if you put organics into the system, it just increases the uncertainty and the risk.”
Haley says he has been training for this role for many years – in a manner of speaking. “I moved to Texas about 13 years ago. With a friend there, I’ve been shooting different kinds of guns nearly that entire time,” Haley explains. “We do it just for fun – we hunt a bit – but the main reason we do it is so I can apply that knowledge to my work. When I got on the set of RoboCop, I was able to ask questions about the specific weapons I’d be firing and how they might be similar to guns I’d already shot. That kind of background is incredibly useful.”
Michael K. Williams, who brought to life the memorable character of Omar Little in the HBO series “The Wire,” joins the cast of RoboCop as Murphy’s partner, Jack Lewis. Williams says he was excited to be part of the cast – and physically acting opposite Kinnaman was an unusual experience. Williams’ role was split into two: first, he shot his scenes with Kinnaman before Murphy’s transformation into RoboCop; then, a short while later, Williams rejoined the production to shoot his scenes with Kinnaman in the RoboCop suit. “As we were wrapping one night, it struck me – this was the last time I would see Joel as Joel – as a human being. So I gave him a pound – see ya later. And sure enough, next time I saw him, he was RoboCop. I gave him a pound – it hit him on the shoulder and I almost broke my hand!”
Two-time Tony Award-winner Jennifer Ehle, who most recently co-starred opposite Jessica Chastain in the acclaimed film Zero Dark Thirty, plays Liz Kline, OmniCorp’s corporate lawyer. She notes that in a story that is so much about the ethical and moral choices we all will face in the near future, her character is one whose worldview is not all that different from ours in the present. She says, “Liz Kline is functioning in a world that is fully of technology, but the nuts and bolts of her work aren’t that different than what a lawyer would be doing today. That’s interesting – everyone else is pushing boundaries and creating new worlds, and she’s dealing with the black-and-white of the law.”
Jay Baruchel plays Tom Pope, the superficial head of marketing for OmniCorp – a man who sees RoboCop as much as a consumer product as a law enforcement tool protecting and serving the people of Detroit. “Pope is a marketing guy, too slick for his own good,” says Baruchel.
It was important to Baruchel and the filmmakers that the audience would immediately take in where the character was coming from – and much of that could come from Baruchel’s costume. “The costume designer, April Ferry, decided that he would be something of a label hound,” Baruchel explains. “So I’ve got her favorite wardrobe in the movie. Every day, I was dressed to the nines in super fashionable stuff – stuff that I normally wouldn’t be caught dead in. But I know it looks nice, and I’m happy that my mother finally gets to see me dressed in a suit.”
Marianne Jean-Baptiste takes on the role of Karen Dean, Detroit’s chief of police. “She’s a very powerful go-getter,” says the Oscar®-nominated actress. “She’s worked her way up the ranks in the police department. She wields a lot of power – and she enjoys doing that. But I think she’s fair with her staff and she’s well-respected.”
Oscar® nominee Samuel L. Jackson rounds out the cast as Pat Novak, a political commentator. “Sam Jackson described his character as Rush Sharpton!” laughs Kinnaman. “He’s very opinionated, very pro-robotics and pro-OmniCorp.”
“We got Samuel L. Jackson, who is a great actor – he has such a presence and charisma – but the thing that surprised me was how prepared he was,” says Padilha. “We gave him these long monologues, so many lines, and he just nailed them, first take, no mistakes.”
To achieve the futuristic look of RoboCop, the filmmakers turned to production designer Martin Whist. Though a production designer’s stock in trade are typically a film’s sets – and indeed Whist was responsible for these – he also designed several other aspects of the film, including the RoboCop suits, the bikes and cars, the weapons, and the VFX robots: the ED-209 and EM-208. “It’s the first time I was involved with designing elements that would animate in the visual effects world,” he explains. “There were a lot of new challenges that were very engaging and I enjoyed a lot – from cars to bikes to suits to weapons. And that was all on top of the sets!”
Whist says that he was able to achieve such a wide scope of work on RoboCop because of the expertise of his team. “Of course, my strengths are my village. I had great people working with me and amazing designers working on the different aspects: certain people on guns, two guys working a lot on the robots,” he explains. “That enabled me to design by approval or scrutiny – I was tweaking, rather than lifting it off the ground. We got the experts doing it, and we let them bring their ideas and talent to the table. We were guiding and editing.”
In designing RoboCop’s suits, Whist says that the second suit – the black suit – got the bulk of the attention from the designers. “The second suit was black, more visually sleek, designed, thought out, and a little more elegant and aggressive.”
To build the physical RoboCop suits, Whist worked with the team at Legacy Effects, one of Hollywood’s go-to sources for making visions become a reality as the creators of the Iron Man suit and other effects work.
RoboCop has two main weapons: a high-powered Taser that comes out of his thigh (again, a nod to the original film) and a gun that deploys from his forearm. Whist says that it was important to him to maintain a certain level of verisimilitude, even though he was obviously working in the realm of science fiction. “When we designed the Taser, I wanted it to truly make sense how it would come out, how it would deploy, how it would fit, and how that would translate to a real gun in his hand. We wanted it to seem real, to have a logic to it. It had to be a certain size – after all, it had to fit in the leg. And then we had to figure out how it would deploy in a cool way that he could grab onto.”
In designing a futuristic Taser, Whist wanted a design that would not involve a cord. “The Taser gun fires pellets, little flat discs. When you fire, the discs extend like a camping cup, and little fins come out as it propels through the air. When the pellet strikes something, it recompresses, and that compression pushes out a spike. The whole thing is an advanced battery that gives the victim a shock. It was a lot of fun figuring out the mechanics of how it would work.”
RoboCop’s other main weapon is a more traditional pistol that comes out of his forearm. “His arm plate flips open into a gun – it has a brace that goes onto his forearm, near his elbow, and then the gun goes into his hand – the idea is that when the gun recoils, it wasn’t putting all that pressure on his wrist. When I design things like that, I like to be as practical as possible, even though what I’m designing is far from practical. I want it to fit into the world – even though a high-powered Taser gun that pops out of a robot’s leg is a crazy idea, it should have some logic to it.”
Whist also designed the two robots in the film – the ED-209 and the EM-208. “For the 209, we again made a nod to the original,” Whist explains. “We kept it similar in that it’s bipedal, has a big head, and has heavy artillery on it. Still, we wanted to update everything – so we made it more advanced and agile, more dexterous, with heavier guns and more range.”
The EM-208 is a new robot for this film. “If the 209 is like a tank – they blast ahead or clean up afterwards – the 208 was meant to be lighter and quicker,” he explains. “I called them foot soldiers. They can go in and get into smaller places.”
In designing these robots, Whist coordinated closely with the visual effects team. “I designed the 209 as a static image,” he explains. “Once they started animating it and making it move, we had to modify the design. Even though it’s a visual effect, there are still real-world physics that have to take place to make it appear to move properly; for example, a joint on a leg would have to be at a certain point so he could lift his leg or swivel a gun.”
Whist also designed the vehicles in the film. In one more nod to the original, the police cars are based on the new model of Ford Taurus – just as the first-generation Taurus had taken a starring role in the original film. “Luckily, the latest model of the Taurus had a cool look to it!” Whist says. “I was really happy with the police cars, they came out great.”
Whist took a decidedly different turn for RoboCop’s motorcycle. Based on a Kawasaki 1000, the design team made major modifications. “We modified the frame, extending the wheel base. It’s quite a bit longer than a normal bike, because I wanted RoboCop to take a leaning forward attack position when he’s on the bike. He’s quite big, and the normal bike looked too small under him. Then, we reclad the whole bike in armor, similar to the suit. He merges with the bike when he’s riding it – it looks like one unit. And finally, we redid all the lights and graphics, of course.”
Of course, Whist was also responsible for the sets – including Dr. Norton’s lab. “I wanted to keep that set very sterile, rectilinear,” says Whist. “We had a subtext reference of Francis Bacon, who was concerned with the man and the psyche trapped within the constructs of society; in Sellars’ office, he has a triptych of Bacons behind him. That’s a very strong metaphor for the RoboCop story, so it was also our starting point – and with the design of the lab, it was almost square, 90 degree angles, extremely sterile, glossy reflective white, everything. The walls have cupboards that pull out and the mechanics are integrated into the walls and floors. There are contact points for hoses and machinery integrated into the walls, ceiling, and floor. And then in the middle – and as a stark contrast – is a very organic, curvilinear, mounting bed for RoboCop himself. That’s where he uploads and downloads, cycles blood – it’s his docking station.”
For the film’s visual effects, the filmmakers turned to visual effects supervisor James E. Price, who says that the scope of work on RoboCop fell into three main categories: 1) the robots – chiefly the EM-208s, the ED-209s, and RoboCop himself; 2) futurization of the environment; and 3) graphics and displays, including RoboCop’s point of view.
The design of the robots began in the art department, but the artists soon began a close collaboration with the visual effects team that would be animating their designs. “The goal for the 209 was to make it look as real as possible – like it was a real, heavy, menacing robot,” says Price. “The design is very unique, with a backwards knee and a very large mass to its head, so the challenge was to give it an interesting, mechanical performance that felt like it didn’t defy physics – that it could balance and walk appropriately and be menacing without looking awkward.”
For the 208s – Whist’s “foot soldiers” – Price says that the challenges took on a different dimension. “The 208s have a humanoid design, so we wanted them to have a way of moving that reflected their humanoid joints. But they couldn’t be too human; there had to be a mechanical quality to the way that they walked and moved. For us, that was about precision and speed. When a person points from one direction to another very rapidly, their finger and hand might move around a little bit at the end of that move – they are compensating for the mass of their arm as they swing it around. But a robot doesn’t have that issue – it has a very finite control over the way it moves its joints. We started by doing motion capture of humans and removing more and more of the overshoot, the bobble and the drift that you saw in the human performance.”
For RoboCop himself, all of these aspects and more came into play. “There were a whole spectrum of techniques we used to bring RoboCop to life,” Price continues. “We started with a performer in a suit – either Joel or a stuntman. In some cases, we replaced portions of the suit – we’d keep only Joel’s head and face and replace the rest of the body for a very complex move. And if RoboCop had to complete an action that a human couldn’t perform – moving faster or jumping farther – we went to an all-digital version of RoboCop. When we animated RoboCop in those situations, we based the animation on how Joel would move and then we added that extra power or maneuverability or flexibility that only a robot could do.”
When it came to futurization, it was important to take a subtle approach and a gentle hand. “If you look out the window, you see cars that are one year old and twenty years old and everything in between. Same thing with buildings – in fact, you’ll see buildings that are 50 or 100 years old,” Price notes. “So we didn’t want to beat the audience over the head – we wanted to create a subtle evolution of where we are today.”
The team’s chief challenge in futurization was to change the Detroit skyline. “We added the very prominent OmniCorp headquarters,” Price notes. “The top half of the building, the skyscraper, was designed by the art department; the bottom half was modeled on the Vancouver Convention Center, which was where we shot a portion of our finale. For the skyscraper, I went to Detroit and shot aerial background plates of the current Detroit skyline. We had picked a spot in Detroit where the building would be – just south of the Renaissance Center, the classic building with the GM logo on it. There’s a park and a plaza area just south of there that was wide open. So we got in a helicopter and hovered in place at that location and we shot a series of stills, making a panorama. We used the gyro stabilized camera and shot a 360-degree view of Detroit from two slightly different altitudes – one that would represent Sellars’ office, and another slightly higher that would be the roof, where the helipad is. In post, we used those static frames to create one big, moving panorama.”
As a result, the view of Detroit seen from Sellars’ windows and from the roof is exactly what one would see if there really were a building on that spot.
The final elements were the graphics and displays – a key part of how RoboCop’s point of view would be conveyed to the audience. “There’s a lot of information there – about RoboCop’s status, how he monitors his environment, how he assesses things.”
Pulling that off began with the way the filmmakers shot RoboCop’s point of view. “We had a special camera rig that the camera department nicknamed Robo-vision. It was a clever rig – it was a stabilized head mounted on a Steadicam. It enabled you to get a very fluid, Steadicam walking move – something the audience would traditionally associate with a POV shot – but with the remote-controlled head, it got the kind of very precise panning and tilting that we wanted, to add that robotic feel. When you’re looking through RoboCop’s eyes, you’re walking similarly to the way a human would walk, but your attention is able to focus on something and then whip very quickly and precisely over to something else. On top of that, we added a lot of graphics, text, and readouts that would show RoboCop’s analysis of what he was looking at.”
Price and his team also created the virtual set for the political commentary show, hosted by Pat Novak – played by Samuel L. Jackson. “We shot Sam in a 240-degree green screen; his background is entirely animated,” says Price. “Those scenes had to have their own unique look, so we worked with a company in Los Angeles to design that show package and the look of his sets. Fortunately, Sam has a lot of experience working in that kind of environment, so he knew exactly what to expect.”
Swedish star JOEL KINNAMAN (Alex Murphy) has quickly become sought after in Hollywood after his debut in the Swedish trilogy Snabba Cash, directed by Daniel Espinosa. The film, the first of three, based on the international best-selling series written by Jens Lapidus, was the highest-grossing Swedish film of the year. Kinnaman won the 2011 Guldbagge Award (the Swedish equivalent of an Academy Award®) for Best Actor for his work in the film.
After he screen tested for the lead roles in George Miller’s Fury Road for Warner Bros. and Kenneth Branagh’s Thor for Paramount, he relocated to Los Angeles. Shortly after his arrival, he won the male lead in the critically-acclaimed AMC series “The Killing.”
After his notable debut in “The Killing,” he starred in New Regency’s The Darkest Hour, squeezed in a cameo in David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, was reunited with director Daniel Espinosa in the Universal action-thriller Safe House, and managed to try his hand at romantic comedy in Fox Searchlight’s Lola Versus.
Kinnaman has continued to remain incredibly busy. He finished another installment of Snabba Cash, Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups alongside Natalie Portman and Christian Bale, and Season 3 of “The Killing,” for AMC. This summer he stars in the Ridley Scott-produced Child 44 for director Daniel Espinosa, opposite Tom Hardy. He also recently completed the Warner Bros. thriller Run All Night, starring opposite Liam Neeson, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra.
Kinnaman, originally from Stockholm, Sweden, is a graduate of the prestigious Swedish Academic School of Drama.
With over 20 years as a worldwide presence in major motion pictures, GARY OLDMAN (Norton) is known to millions as Sirius Black (Harry Potter’s godfather), Commissioner Jim Gordon (Batman’s crime-fighting partner in all three films of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy), Dracula, Beethoven, Lee Harvey Oswald, Joe Orton, Sid Vicious, and also the terrorist who hijacked Harrison Ford’s Air Force One. He also starred in Luc Besson’s The Professional and The Fifth Element and also as Dr. Zachary Smith in Lost in Space. Highly regarded as one of foremost actors of his generation, and an internationally known, iconic figure, he has the distinction of appearing in more successful films than any other artist spanning the past twenty years; he has appeared in 13 films to open #1 at the box office, and last year, The Hollywood Reporter cited Oldman as the highest grossing actor in the history of motion pictures.
With the recent addition of master spy George Smiley, Oldman created yet another iconic character in the acclaimed film version of John leCarre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. That film brought Oldman his first Academy Award® nomination and a BAFTA nomination as Best Actor. Mr. Oldman is also the recipient of the 2011 Empire Icon Award, awarded for a lifetime of outstanding achievement, and also the 2012 Empire Award for Best Actor for Tinker.
In 2014, in addition to RoboCop, Oldman will star in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the film version of the acclaimed thriller Child 44.
Oldman’s acting career began in 1979 where he worked exclusively in the theatre; in 1985 through 1989, he worked at London’s Royal Court. His early BBC films were Mike Leigh’s Meantime and The Firm by the late Alan Clark. Feature films, which immediately followed, were Sid and Nancy, Prick Up Your Ears, directed by Stephen Frears, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead directed by Tom Stoppard, State of Grace, JFK directed by Oliver Stone, Bram Stoker’s Dracula directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Romeo is Bleeding, True Romance directed by Tony Scott, Murder in the First, Immortal Beloved, The Scarlet Letter directed by Roland Joffe, and The Book of Eli opposite Denzel Washington.
In 1995, Oldman and manager/producing partner Douglas Urbanski formed a production company, which produced Oldman’s directorial debut, the highly acclaimed Nil By Mouth. The film won nine of seventeen major awards for which it was nominated. The film was selected to open the main competition for the 1997 50th Anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival, for which Kathy Burke won Best Actress. The same year, Oldman won the prestigious Channel Four Director’s Prize at the Edinburgh Film Festival in addition to winning the British Academy Award (shared with Douglas Urbanski) for Best Film and also the BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay, written by Gary Oldman.
In 2000, Oldman and Douglas Urbanski also produced the original film The Contender, which also starred Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges, Christian Slater and Sam Elliott; the film received several Academy Award® nominations.
ICHAEL KEATON (Raymond Sellars) gained national attention in the hit comedy Night Shift, followed by starring roles in such films as Mr. Mom, Johnny Dangerously, and Dream Team.
In 1998, he earned the best actor award from the National Society of Film Critics for Clean and Sober and Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. Keaton re-teamed with Burton to play the title role in the blockbusters Batman and Batman Returns.
Keaton starred as Robert Weiner in HBO’s critically-acclaimed Live From Baghdad, based on a true story of the CNN crew who reported from Baghdad during the Gulf War. Keaton received Golden Globe nomination for his performance.
Keaton also starred in Game Six, of a story centered around the historic Game Six of the 1986 World Series, Mets vs. The Boston Red Sox. In addition, he has completed the feature film The Last Time as well as a starring role in the TNT mini-series The Company, a dramatic story of how the CIA operated during the Cold War.
In 2007, Michael Keaton made his directorial debut and also starred in the drama The Merry Gentleman. The film was accepted by the Sundance Film Festival for 2008. Also in 2009, Keaton co-starred in the Fox comedy Post Grad.
Keaton was the voice of Ken in Toy Story 3, the latest addition to the successful and endearing franchise in 3D. Keaton also co-starred in the comedy feature The Other Guys with Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson for Columbia Pictures.
In March of 2014, Keaton will star in DreamWorks’ Need for Speed. Coming out in the fall, Keaton stars in Birdman directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and costars Naomi Watts, Edward Norton and Emma Stone.
ABBIE CORNISH (Clara Murphy), a native Australian, is an acclaimed young actress best known for her starring roles in the independent films Candy (2006) opposite Heath Ledger and Somersault (2004) with Sam Worthington, both Australian productions that garnered her Best Lead Actress awards from the Film Critics Circle of Australia. She was also awarded Best Lead Actress from the Australian Film Institute for Somersault and received a nomination for Candy. It was these two roles that earned her great notice in the U.S.
Cornish will next be seen in the Discovery Channel’s first scripted, three part mini-series, “Klondike,” beginning January 20th, 2014.Cornish stars opposite Richard Madden, Sam Shepard and Tim Roth in the epic story of survival and the search for wealth in the remote Klondike.
In 2012, Cornish appeared in writer/director Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths opposite Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and Christopher Walken. That same year, she also starred in the independent drama, The Girl.
In 2011, Cornish starred in Warner Brothers’ 3D sci-fi and action film Sucker Punch, helmed by Zack Snyder and just prior, Cornish was the female lead with Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper in Limitless. She also starred in The Weinstein Company’s W.E., which was accepted at both the Venice International Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011.
In 2010, Cornish lent her voice to the animated film Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, directed by Zack Snyder.
In fall 2009, Cornish starred in Jane Campion’s period drama Bright Star, which was a true life adaptation of famous poet John Keats’ love affair with a young woman named Fanny Brawne. Cornish received a British Independent Film Award nomination for Best Actress and received accolades from some of the most established critics in the US, UK and Australia. Bright Star premiered at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for a Golden Palm Award at the Festival.
Cornish’s acting debut came at the age of fifteen on the Australian Broadcasting Company’s television series “Children’s Hospital.” Shortly thereafter, she co-starred on the ABC series “Wildside,” which garnered Cornish her first AFI honor in 1999. In 2003, Cornish earned her second AFI nomination for her guest role on the ABC mini-series “Marking Time.” She also appeared in Ridley Scott’s A Good Year, opposite Russell Crowe.
In 2007, she starred opposite Cate Blanchett as the Queen’s favorite lady-in- waiting in Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth: The Golden Age for Universal Pictures. In 2008, Cornish starred as the female lead in the Paramount Pictures drama Stop-Loss directed by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry).
JACKIE EARLE HALEY (Mattox) has had one of the most interesting career trajectories in the industry. He started out as a successful child actor before virtually disappearing from Hollywood. After 15 years, he made an almost unprecedented comeback in back-to-back 2006 feature releases: Steven Zaillian's All the King's Men and Todd Field's controversial drama Little Children. Haley's courageous performance as convicted sex offender Ronnie McGorvey in the latter brought him numerous accolades, culminating in an Academy Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He was also honored with a Screen Actors Guild Award® nomination and won Best Supporting Actor awards from several critics groups, including the New York Film Critics Circle and the Chicago Film Critics Association.
Haley then appeared in the Will Ferrell basketball comedy Semi-Pro. In 2009, he joined the ensemble cast of Watchmen, Zack Snyder's ambitious film adaptation of the seminal graphic novel, earning acclaim from critics and fans alike for his portrayal of the enigmatic Rorschach.
The following year, Haley co-starred with Leonardo DiCaprio in the dramatic thriller Shutter Island, directed by Martin Scorsese. Also in 2010, Haley took on the role of the monstrously terrifying killer Freddy Krueger in the reimagining of the horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street. On television, Haley starred for two seasons on FOX's action series "Human Target."
Haley first came to fame in the mid-1970s with his scene-stealing performance as Kelly Leak, the cigarette-smoking, motorcycle-riding hellion, in Michael Ritchie's comedy hit The Bad News Bears, reprising his role in two sequels. He again won praise from critics and audiences for his role as the romantic but short-tempered Moocher in Peter Yates' Oscar®-winning 1979 sleeper hit Breaking Away. In 1983, Haley played the sex-obsessed Dave in Curtis Hanson's Losin' It, with Tom Cruise. That same year, he made his Broadway debut, starring in John Byrne's play "Slab Boys," with Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, and Val Kilmer.
When the transition to more adult roles proved difficult, Haley turned his focus to directing. He began helming industrial videos, which eventually led to commercials. He had been off the screen for more than a decade when, in 2004, Steven Zaillian tracked him down for the role of Sugar Boy in All the King's Men. That, combined with his work in Little Children, resulted in the resurgence of his acting career.
Haley most recently starred opposite Johnny Depp in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, and Peter Landesman’s Parkland. He will direct his first feature film next year.
MICHAEL K. WILLIAMS (Officer Jack Lewis) is one of television’s most respected and acclaimed actors. By bringing complicated and charismatic characters to life—often with surprising tenderness—Williams has established himself as a gifted and versatile performer with a unique ability to mesmerize audiences with his stunning character portrayals.
Williams is best known for his remarkable work on “The Wire,” which ran for five seasons on HBO. The wit and humor that Williams brought to Omar, the whistle-happy, profanity-averse, dealer-robbing stickup man, earned him high praise and made Omar one of television’s most memorable characters. For his work Williams was nominated in 2009 for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.
Williams is also co-starring in HBO’s critically acclaimed series “Boardwalk Empire,” which premiered in 2010. In the Martin Scorsese-produced show, Williams plays Chalky White, a 1920s bootlegger and impeccably suited veritable mayor of the Atlantic City’s African-American community. In 2012, “Boardwalk Empire” won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
Williams recently continued to show his versatility by guest-starring in three episodes of “Community,” NBC’s comedy series. His other television credits include “Law & Order,” “CSI,” “The Philanthropist,” and “Boston Legal.” He also had recurring roles on “The Sopranos” and J.J. Abrams’ “Alias.”
Williams made his feature film debut in the urban drama Bullet, after being discovered by the late Tupac Shakur. He also appeared in Bringing Out the Dead, which was directed by Martin Scorsese. His other film work includes roles in The Road, Gone Baby Gone, Life During Wartime, I Think I Love My Wife, Wonderful World, and Snitch opposite Dwayne Johnson and Susan Sarandon. Williams was most recently seen in a supporting role in the new Steve McQueen film 12 Years A Slave with Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt. Among his upcoming roles, Williams has completed filming Captive opposite Kate Mara and David Oyelowo, Kill the Messenger opposite Jeremy Renner, as well as Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film, Inherent Vice. Williams will next star opposite Mark Wahlberg is Paramount’s remake of The Gambler.
Giving back to the community plays an important role in Williams’ off-camera life. He has established Making Kids Win, a charitable organization whose primary objective is to build community centers in urban neighborhoods that are in need of safe spaces for children to learn and play.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Williams began his career as a performer by dancing professionally at age 22. After numerous appearances in music videos and as a background dancer on concert tours for Madonna and George Michael, Williams decided to seriously pursue acting. He participated in several productions of the La MaMA Experimental Theatre, the prestigious National Black Theatre Company and the Theater for a New Generation directed by Mel Williams.
Michael Kenneth Williams resides in Brooklyn, New York.
JENNIFER EHLE (Liz Kline) is an award-winning stage and screen actress. In 2000, she received critical acclaim and a Best Performance Tony Award for the debut of Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing.” She then won her second Tony Award in 2006 for her portrayal of three characters in Stoppard’s “The Coast of Utopia.” In film, her performance as Elizabeth Bennet in the 1995 BBC television adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic “Pride and Prejudice” earned her a BAFTA award. She is also a memorable presence in the Liz Garbus documentary “Love, Marilyn,” which was recently acquired by HBO. She was most recently seen in Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion and in Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty. Her upcoming film roles include A Little Chaos, directed by and starring Alan Rickman and also starring Kate Winslet; The Forger, starring John Travolta; Black and White, directed by Mike Binder and starring Kevin Costner; and the highly anticipated motion picture adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey.
JAY BARUCHEL (Pope) continues to cement his leading man status with many exciting projects on the horizon. Baruchel was recently seen in The Art of the Steal, opposite Kurt Russell and Matt Dillon, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Baruchel is also at work on the DreamWorks Animation film How to Train Your Dragon 2, which will be released in 2014 and is in production on an Untitled Cameron Crowe Project opposite Bradley Cooper and Rachel McAdams.
Last year, Baruchel was seen in the smash hit comedy This is the End, the directorial debut of Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg, which he also co-produced. Prior to that, he starred in the hockey comedy Goon, which he co-wrote with Goldberg, produced, and starred in opposite Sean William Scott, Liev Schreiber and Alison Pill. The film premiered to rave reviews at the Toronto Film Festival, and Baruchel was nominated for two 2013 Canadian Screen Awards in the categories of Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. He was also seen in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis opposite Robert Pattinson, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival. Both films made the Toronto Film Festival’s top film list of 2012.
Also in development for Baruchel are a number of writing projects. He is currently adapting the book Baseballismo, written by Dave Bidini, into a screenplay, and is also adapting the graphic novel Random Acts of Violence for Kickstart Entertainment. In addition, he will also begin work on a sequel to Goon.
Previously, Baruchel was seen in the Bruckheimer Films/Disney feature The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, directed by Jon Turtletaub, in which he starred as the Apprentice opposite Nicolas Cage. He also was seen in Paramount’s romantic comedy She’s Out of My League, as well as the Dreamworks Oscar®-nominated animated feature, How to Train Your Dragon, as the lead voice of Hiccup. Baruchel won a 2011 Annie Award for his voice work on this film. He also was seen starring in Good Neighbors, which premiered at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival.
Roles in the Academy Award® winning movie Million Dollar Baby opposite Clint Eastwood, Hillary Swank and Morgan Freeman and the blockbuster hit Tropic Thunder opposite Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr., garnered Baruchel much praise for his versatility. He has also been lauded for his starring role in Jacob Tierney’s comedy The Trotsky, which premiered at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival to rave reviews. Baruchel received a Genie Award Lead Actor nomination for his performance in this film.
Baruchel has a long list of additional feature credits including Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, Knocked Up, Just Buried, which premiered at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival, Real Time, and in the memorable role of Vic Munoz, the obsessed Led Zeppelin fan in Almost Famous.
Baruchel began acting at age 12 when he landed a job on the Nickelodeon hit television series “Are You Afraid of the Dark?,” transforming what was to be a one-time guest appearance into a recurring role. The role was a springboard for his career, leading to his first Canadian series, “My Hometown.” He then made his debut to American audiences as the star of the critically acclaimed Judd Apatow television series “Undeclared” on Fox.
Baruchel currently resides in Montreal.
Respectfully labeled as one of the hardest-working actors in Hollywood, SAMUEL L. JACKSON (Pat Novak) is an undisputed star as demonstrated in the fact that his films have grossed the most money in box office sales than any other actor in the history of filmmaking.
Jackson made an indelible mark on American cinema with his portrayal of Jules, the philosophizing hitman, in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. In addition to unanimous critical acclaim for his performance, he received Academy Award® and Golden Globe nominations as Best Supporting Actor as well as a Best Supporting Actor award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
Jackson will next reprise his role as Nick Fury in both Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, set to release in March 2014, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which will begin production early next year.
Most recently, Jackson appeared alongside Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen in Spike Lee’s American remake of the 2003 Korean cult classic, Oldboy. In 2013, he also played the charismatic snail Whiplash in Twentieth Century Fox’s animated feature Turbo.
In 2012, he co-starred in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained as Stephen, alongside Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio. He also starred in The Avengers, which is part of his 9-picture deal with Marvel Studios. The highly anticipated film opened on May 4, 2012 to a record shattering $200 million opening weekend and has grossed $1.51 billion worldwide.
Jackson made his Broadway debut at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater in Katori Hall’s “The Mountaintop,” co-starring Angela Bassett and directed by Kenny Leon. “The Mountaintop” is set on the eve of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., whom Jackson portrayed.
Jackson was seen in HBO’s “The Sunset Limited,” an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s play. Tommy Lee Jones co-starred and directed the telefilm.
In September 2010, Jackson played P.K. Highsmith in Columbia Pictures’ The Other Guys. Additionally, Jackson co-starred in the indie drama Mother and Child, directed by Rodrigo Garcia. He received an Image Award and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for his work. Jackson was also seen in Marvel’s Iron Man 2 as Nick Fury, after making a surprise cameo appearance in Iron Man in 2008. He reprised the role in Captain America in the summer of 2011.
Jackson’s career began onstage upon his graduation from Morehouse College in Atlanta with a degree in dramatic arts. Among the plays were “Home,” “A Soldier’s Play,” “Sally/Prince” and “The District Line.” He also originated roles in two of August Wilson’s plays at Yale Repertory Theatre. For the New York Shakespeare Festival, Jackson appeared in “Mother Courage and Her Children,” “Spell #7,” and “The Mighty Gents.”
In 2008, Jackson’s films included the Neil LaBute thriller Lakeview Terrace, which premiered at the Deauville Film Festival, followed by the Dimension Studios comedy Soul Men alongside the late Bernie Mac, and the Frank Miller action drama The Spirit, in which he portrayed the nemesis, Octopus. Also in 2008, Jackson starred in the Doug Liman directed sci-fi action film Jumper for 20th Century Fox.
In 2007, Jackson had a starring role in the acclaimed drama Resurrecting the Champ, and a co-starring role in the very successful horror film for the Weinstein Co. 1408, based on the Stephen King novel. Earlier that year, Jackson starred in the Craig Brewer film Black Snake Moan, and Irwin Winkler’s MGM war drama Home of the Brave.
In 2006, Jackson starred in the cult classic film Snakes on a Plane, directed by David Ellis. Jackson also starred opposite Julianne Moore in Revolution Studio’s Freedomland, directed by Joe Roth, based on the best-selling novel of the same name. He also appeared as Agent Derrick Vann in New Line’s The Man, opposite Eugene Levy.
In early 2005, Jackson topped the opening weekend box office charts with the success of the Paramount Pictures film, Coach Carter. Jackson portrayed real-life high school basketball coach, Ken Carter, a dedicated role model and advocate for students succeeding in the classroom as well as on the basketball court. Coach Carter was screened as the opening night film of the prestigious Palm Springs Film Festival. Jackson received the Career Achievement Award for Acting from the Festival.
Jackson also starred opposite Juliette Binoche in Sony Pictures Classics’ In My Country, based on the best-selling novel Country of My Skull, by South African writer Antije Krog. Jackson portrayed an American reporter coping with the aftermath of apartheid as his newspaper assigns him to cover the Truth and Reconciliation Trials, established by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In My Country was directed by John Boorman and produced by Bob Chartoff and Mike Medavoy.
In 2005, Jackson reprised his role as Agent Augustus Gibbons in XXX: State of the Union and as Mace Windu in Star Wars: Episode III – The Revenge of the Sith. To no one’s surprise, Star Wars: Episode III – The Revenge of the Sith made an incredible impact at the box office, breaking numerous opening day records.
In 2004, Jackson voiced the role of the character Frozone in the Disney animated action-adventure film The Incredibles, which was released to record box office results. The film was directed and written by Brad Bird and earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture as well as two Academy Award nominations.
In 2003, Jackson starred in S.W.A.T. for Columbia Pictures. Directed by Clark Johnson, S.W.A.T. is about an arrested drug kingpin who is transported by a Los Angeles Police Department S.W.A.T. team and led out of the city and into Federal custody. Plans go awry when the kingpin offers $100 million to anyone who can free him. Colin Farrell and Michelle Rodriguez are also in the film.
In 2002, Jackson starred with Ben Affleck in the box office and critical success, Paramount’s Changing Lanes. Jackson delivered an intense yet sympathetic performance of a father who was down on his luck, but intent on getting even with the man that wronged him. Also in 2002, Jackson starred and executive produced the Sony/ Screen Gems film Formula 51, with Robert Carlyle; co-starred in the sci-fi thriller, XXX; and reprised his role as Mace Windu in the second installment of George Lucas’ Stars Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
In 2001, Jackson starred in Jersey Franchise/Universal’s Caveman’s Valentine. Directed by Kasi Lemmons, the film followed the story of a homeless man in New York City who discovered a murder. Jackson also served as an executive producer on the project, which was the most successful independent film of the year. This was Jackson’s second project with Kasi Lemmons with the first being the applauded, Eve’s Bayou, which he also produced in 1997.
In 2000, Jackson co-starred opposite Bruce Willis in writer/director M. Night Shyamalan’s suspense drama Unbreakable for Touchstone Pictures. Jackson’s character, Elijah Price, a highly suspicious and wheelchair-bound man with a far-fetched theory, holds the key to the film’s underlying question of, “Are You Unbreakable?”
Also in 2000, Jackson starred in John Singleton’s Shaft in the title role opposite Christian Bale and Vanessa Williams. Jackson also starred in Paramount’s courtroom drama Rules of Engagement, where he played Col. Terry Childers, a military officer on trial for ordering his soldiers to open fire on civilians. Directed by William Friedkin, the film co-starred Tommy Lee Jones. Both Shaft and Rules of Engagement were screened at the 2000 Deauville Film Festival, where Jackson was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1999, Jackson starred in Warner Bros. Deep Blue Sea for director Renny Harlin. Jackson also made a cameo appearance in George Lucas’ highly successful and popular Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace. In 1998, Jackson also starred in The Negotiator and in Francois Girard’s The Red Violin.
In 1997, Jackson starred in Jackie Brown, his second film with director Quentin Tarantino. For the latter he received a Golden Globe nomination and the Silver Bear Award for Best Actor in a Comedy at the Berlin Film Festival. Later that year he starred in 187.
Jackson starred opposite Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey and Kevin Spacey in Joel Schumacher’s 1996 film A Time to Kill, an adaptation of the famous John Grisham novel. For his performance Jackson received a Golden Globe nomination and an NAACP Image Award. He also starred opposite Bruce Willis in Die Hard with a Vengeance, the top-grossing movie internationally in 1995.
In 1991, Jackson made movie history with his portrayal of a crack addict in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever when he was awarded the first and only Best Supporting Performance Award ever given by the judges at the Cannes Film Festival. He also won the New York Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor for that performance.
His other film credits include Twisted, Sphere, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Hard Eight, Kiss of Death, Losing Isaiah and Amos and Andrew. Additional film credits include: Ragtime, Sea of Love, Coming to America, Ray, Do the Right Thing, School Daze, Mo’ Better Blues, Goodfellas, Strictly Business, White Sands, Patriot Games, Jumpin’ at the Boneyard, Father and Sons, Juice, Fresh and True Romance.
On the small screen, Jackson served as Executive Producer for the animated series for Spike TV, “Afro Samurai” which premiered in 2007 and returned for a third season in January 2009. The series received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Animated Program from the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences. The first edition of the “Afro Samurai” video game launched in February 2009. A film version of “Afro Samurai” is in development with the Indomina Group for which Jackson is one of the producers.
On television, in addition to “The Sunset Limited,” Jackson starred in John Frankenheimer’s Emmy Award-winning “Against the Wall” for HBO. His performance earned him a Cable Ace nomination as Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or Miniseries, as well as a Golden Globe nomination.
JOSÉ PADILHA (Director), 45, is a Brazilian producer, writer and director.
As a documentary filmmaker, Padilha directed and produced three films. Bus 174 opened at the Sundance Film Festival and won several important awards, including Best Documentary at the Rio Film Festival, Best Documentary at the São Paulo Film festival, Best Documentary at the Miami International Film Festival, Best Documentary at the Havana International Film Festival, a Peabody for journalistic contribution, and the Emmy for Outstanding Cultural and Journalistic Programming. Bus 174 also earned Padilha a nomination for Best Director at the Directors Guild of America and the Charles E. Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award. He also directed Garapa, which opened in Berlin in 2008 and won the second prize for documentaries at the Havana International Film Festival 2006 and the Dirk Vanderseypen award 2009, as well as Secrets of the Tribe, which he opened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010 and won the Maysles Brothers Award for Best Documentary Film 2010. As a documentary producer, Padilha produced Estamira (directed by Marcos Prado), which won the Best Documentary awards at Rio de Janeiro and the São Paulo film festivals, Best Documentary at Karlovy Vary, and Grand Prix Marseille International Documentary Film Festival among many other significant awards; and Charcoal People (directed by Nigel Noble), which opened at Sundance in 1999, and won two Amnesty International awards.
As a fictional filmmaker, Padilha has directed, written and produced two features. For Elite Squad, he won several important international awards, including the Berlin Golden Bear and the Brazilian Academy Award for Best Director. Elite Squad 2 opened in Brazil in October 2010. Elite Squad was critically acclaimed in Brazil. The film won the Brazilian Academy Award for Best Script, Best Director and Best Film, and is currently the most watched Brazilian film of all time, having sold more than 11 million tickets in 2010. Elite Squad 2 is also the highest-grossing Brazilian film of all time, beating Avatar and Titanic. The film was independently produced and distributed.
MARC ABRAHAM (Producer) is an American producer, writer and director. In 2008 he directed Flash of Genius starring Greg Kinnear. Among his many producing and executive producing credits are The Man with the Iron Fists, In Time, Children of Men, Spy Game, The Family Man, The Rundown, Dawn of the Dead, Air Force One, 13 Days and The Hurricane. Currently, Abraham is writing to direct a script based on the life of legendary singer-songwriter Hank Williams.
ERIC NEWMAN (Producer) is a film and television producer based in Los Angeles. His producing credits include Dawn of the Dead, Children of Men, The Last Exorcism, Netflix’s “Hemlock Grove,” and In Time.
JOSHUA ZETUMER (Screenplay by) is a writer of film and television. Hailing from Del Mar, California, Zetumer attended USC, originally intending to become a jazz drummer. Then he fell in love with the films of the Coen brothers, switched careers, and has been writing scripts ever since. In addition to Robocop, Zetumer has written screenplays or done production work on several studio franchises: Bourne, James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, and Safe House, to name a few. He’s been selected as one of Variety’s Top Ten Screenwriters to Watch and has been on the Black List three times. He’s currently writing a crime drama for F/X, as well as adapting Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book for Ron Howard to direct. His favorite movie of all time is Network.
EDWARD NEUMEIER (Screenplay by) teamed with Michael Miner to write the screenplay for the 1987 film RoboCop; he also co-produced that film with Jon Davison. His work on RoboCop began a long association with director Paul Verhoeven, for whom he adapted the Robert A. Heinlein novel Starship Troopers into a feature film screenplay; Neumeier would also write that film’s sequel and write and direct Starship Troopers 3: Marauder. Neumeier is currently developing an original screenplay for Columbia Pictures and producer Neal H. Moritz.
MICHAEL MINER’s (Screenplay by) professional career includes time as a director of photography and director/cameraman of ten music videos. As co-writer of RoboCop (1987), the iconic action story about the part man/part machine law enforcer of the future, Miner received the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Screenplay and a nomination for Best Screenplay by the Mystery Writers of America. He is also the co-writer of the pilot for “RoboCop: The Television Show,” produced by Sky TV, and Anacondas: Search for the Blood Orchid, the action adventure sequel about humans battling deadly snakes. His solo writing credits include Lawnmower Man II, the science fiction sequel to the virtual reality story about an idiot savant trapped in a computer program, and his debut as a writer/director, Deadly Weapon, a drama about a teenager who finds a prototype Star Wars weapon and uses it to take a desert town hostage. Most recently, he directed The Book of Stars, magic realism about the troubled relationship between two sisters and the memory book one of them keeps that has the power to anticipate future events. Miner discovered the script while teaching a writing class at the Maine Photographic Workshops. Miner has written screenplays for Oliver Stone, Sylvester Stallone and Michael Douglas. He is currently developing an erotic thriller situated on the campus of Harvard University, and two television series, one about Juvenile Justice in America and the other about the dystopian aspects of digital information. He has taught screenwriting at the Maine Photographic Workshops, the University of Hawaii, the Southeastern Media Institute, the Praxis Center for Screenwriting in Vancouver, the University of California at Santa Barbara, California State University at Los Angeles, and the InsideOut Writers Program for incarcerated juveniles in Los Angeles County.
BILL CARRARO (Executive Producer) most recently served as the executive producer on Joe Johnston’s The Wolfman, starring Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving, and Tower Heist, directed by Brett Ratner and starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy.
Previously, Carraro produced Chris Weitz’s The Golden Compass, which starred Nicole Kidman, Sam Elliott, Eva Green and Daniel Craig, and won the Oscar® for Best Achievement in Visual Effects.
Carraro’s other feature film credits as producer or executive producer include The Sentinel, starring Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, Eva Longoria Parker and Kim Basinger; My Super Ex-Girlfriend, starring Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson; Stay, starring Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts and Ryan Gosling; The Best Man, starring Taye Diggs and Nia Long; Frequency, starring Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel; Undercover Brother; and American History X, starring Edward Norton who received an Academy Award® nomination for his powerful performance.
Additionally, Carraro has collaborated with directors such as Ivan Reitman, Woody Allen, Brian De Palma, Malcolm Lee, Gregory Hoblit, Joan Micklin Silver, Marc Forster and James Foley.
Carraro was the producer of the Emmy-winning and Golden Globe-nominated HBO film The Tuskegee Airmen, which starred Laurence Fishburne and Cuba Gooding, Jr. This highly acclaimed project garnered him the Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Achievement. Carraro was also the recipient of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Motion Picture for producing The Best Man. In addition, Carraro received a Saturn Award for producing Frequency.
Carraro also served as president of production at Aaron Russo Films, supervising independently and co-financed projects that included a first-look deal at Orion Pictures.
A native New Yorker born in Brooklyn and a graduate of Ithaca College, with a degree in film and photography, Carraro began his career in the commercial film industry before moving on to feature film production.
Carraro is a member of both the Producers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America and, in addition to his various producer credits, has worked as a second unit director.
ROGER BIRNBAUM (Producer) served as Co-Chairman and CEO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. from 2010 to 2012. Birnbaum stepped down to focus on producing. Birnbaum remains working exclusively with MGM; with the first project being RoboCop. Other projects include Death Wish, War Games and The Magnificent Seven.
Mr. Birnbaum continues to serve as Co-Chairman of the Board of Spyglass Entertainment with Gary Barber. The company’s successes range from The Sixth Sense, which earned $661 million in worldwide box-office, to the smash hit Bruce Almighty. Also included in the Spyglass library are Oscar-nominated favorites such as Seabiscuit, and The Insider.
Other successes include The Vow, Wanted, 27 Dresses, Shanghai Noon and its sequel, Shanghai Knights.
Mr. Birnbaum also served as producer for the Rush Hour franchise under his Roger Birnbaum Productions banner.
Prior to founding Spyglass, Birnbaum co-founded Caravan Pictures, where he produced such hits as While You Were Sleeping, Grosse Point Blank, Six Days/Seven Nights, Angels in the Outfield, and The Three Musketeers.
Before running Caravan, Birnbaum served as president of Worldwide Production and executive vice president of Twentieth Century Fox, where he developed such films as Home Alone, Edward Scissorhands, My Cousin Vinny, The Last of the Mohicans, and Mrs. Doubtfire. He also served as president of Production for United Artists, where he developed the Oscar-winning film Rain Man.
Before entering the film industry, Birnbaum built a successful career as Vice President of A&R at A&M Records and Vice President of A&R at Arista Records.
Birnbaum is an American Film Institute Trustee. He is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is also on the Board of Y.E.S., a foundation that obtains educational scholarships for underprivileged children. Mr. Birnbaum holds an Honorary Doctorate in Humanities from the University of Denver.
LULA CARVALHO (Director of Photography) was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1977 and visited his first film set when he was very young with his father, the cinematographer and director Walter Carvalho. He first loaded a magazine when he was only ten years old. Soon after, he got involved with the camera department and became a second camera assistant. Upon finishing high school, Carvalho was already working as a first camera assistant, and he pulled focus on over nineteen Brazilian features, including City of God (Director: Fernando Meirelles) – nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Cinematography in 2003; Behind the Sun (Director: Walter Salles); and Carandiru (Director: Hector Babenco). During this time, Carvalho also worked on short films, documentaries, music videos and second units as a cinematographer and as a camera operator on features. He also completed cinematography and still photography classes at New York University and the School of Visual Arts in New York.
In 2005, Carvalho shot his first feature as a cinematographer, Incuráveis (Incurables), directed by Gustavo Accioli. He went on to shoot Elite Squad, directed by José Padilha which won the Golden Bear at the 2008 Berlin Film Festival; A Festa da Menina Morta (The Dead Girl’s Feast), directed by Matheus Natchergaele which was an official selection in Un Certain Regard at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival; Feliz Natal (Merry Christmas), directed by Selton Mello; Budapest, directed by Walter Carvalho; and three documentaries. In 2008, Carvalho was awarded the Best Cinematography Prize by both the Brazilian Cinema Academy and the International Press Correspondents Association in Brazil (ACIE) for his work on Elite Squad.
His most recent collaboration with José Padilha, Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within, became one of Brazil’s highest-grossing films of all time.
MARTIN WHIST (Production Designer) is a production designer and artist based in Los Angeles who studied fine art in Vancouver and Toronto, where he earned his undergraduate degree. He then completed his Masters in Fine Arts at the Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, California. He has shown his paintings and sculpture internationally.
Whist has worked in all aspects of the art department from carpenter to production designer on feature films and commercials for the last 15 years. His recent credits as a production designer include Warm Bodies, The Cabin in the Woods, The Factory, Devil, Super 8, The Promotion, Cloverfield, Smokin’ Aces, and Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny.
He has also been an art director on the feature films The Island, the Academy Award®-nominated and Art Director’s Award winner Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Along Came Polly, Down with Love and Phone Booth.
A native of São Paulo, Brazil, DANIEL REZENDE (Editor) studied advertising at ESPM. After ESPM, he began working as an editor on numerous television commercials and music videos.
Rezende received an Academy Award nomination and also earned a Bafta Award and the Cinema Brazil Grand Prize for his work on Fernando Meirelles’ City of God. Nominated for four Academy Awards, City of God was the first feature film Rezende worked on as editor. After his work on City of God, Rezende went on to work with Walter Salles on Motorcycle Diaries and Dark Water.
Rezende then returned to Brazil to edit The Year My Parents Went on Vacation and City of Men, and then reunited with Fernando Meirelles on the English-language feature film Blindness. Rezende went on to edit Elite Squad, which won the Golden Bear at Berlin Film Festival in 2008, as well as Elite Squad 2, which became the highest grossing film of all time in Brazil.
Rezende most recently re-teamed with Meirelles on the film 360 and with director Terrence Malick on The Tree of Life.
PETER MCNULTY (Editor) was an assistant editor on such films as Payback, Lethal Weapon 4, and X-Men. He then went on to be an associate editor on Brian Helgeland’s A Knight’s Tale, an associate editor on Andrew Dominick’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and an additional editor on Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, making his lead editor debut with Last House on the Left. After cutting two of Wes Craven’s films including Scream 4, McNulty was reunited with Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master. He then re-teamed with Brian Helgeland on last year’s hit film 42.
APRIL FERRY (Costume Designer) debuted as costume designer on John Carpenter’s 1986 actioner Big Trouble in Little China and followed with Alan Rudolph’s romantic drama Made in Heaven. A favorite of director Richard Donner, Ferry has designed the wardrobes for four of his projects, including Radio Flyer, Free Willy, Maverick (earning an Oscar® nomination as well as an Apex Award nomination) and The Shadow Conspiracy. She has also teamed three times with director Jonathan Mostow (Surrogates, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, and U-571), John Hughes (Planes, Trains and Automobiles, She’s Having a Baby, and Flubber), and Jonathan Kaplan (Immediate Family, Unlawful Entry and Brokedown Palace.)
She has also worked on Arthur Hiller’s biopic The Babe, Peter Bogdanovich’s The Mask and “Child’s Play, Three Fugitives, Bill Paxton’s directorial debut Frailty, 15 Minutes, National Security and Playing By Heart. She collaborated with filmmaker Richard Kelly on three projects - the cult favorite Donnie Darko, Southland Tales, and The Box. She also designed the period wear for the WWII romantic drama Edge of Love starring Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller, for which she was honored with the BAFTA Cymru for Best Costume Design.
On the small screen, Ferry designed the wardrobe for the TV miniseries “The Sophisticated Gents,” received an Emmy nomination for the CBS/Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, “My Name Is Bill W,” designed two “Rockford Files” telefilms (1995’s “Punishment and Crime” and 1996’s “A Blessing in Disguise”) and the HBO biopic “Don King: Only in America.”
More recently, she spent four years on location in Italy for the HBO series “Rome,” for which she won the 2006 Emmy Award and earned another nomination the following year. She was also twice honored for the series by the Costume Designers Guild for her period creations, with a third nomination in 2007.
She most recently designed the costumes for Neill Blomkamp’s hit film Elysium. She serves on the board of the Costume Designers Guild.