In Robocop suit, star felt both ‘powerful and vulnerable’
By CINDY PEARLMAN For Sun-Times Media February 10, 2014 9:04PM
Joel Kinnaman stars in "Robocop." | COLUMBIA PICTURES
Updated: February 10, 2014 9:29PM
LOS ANGELES - Joel Kinnaman knows an easy way to drop a few pounds. You could call it the Omnicorp Diet.
“The first time I put on the Robocop suit, we were in Pasadena on a hot summer day,” says the handsome Swedish actor puffing on a vapor cigarette. “It only took two hours to put the suit on, and it was so uncomfortable and digging in everywhere.”
Then Robo-claustrophobia set in.
“After 20 minutes, I was sweating like a pig and said, ‘I gotta get out of this thing,’ ” says Kinnaman. “That’s when I realized, ‘I have to wear this thing for 12 hours a day for the next six months.’ ”
The actor best known for his role as Stephen Holder in “The Killing” reveals, “I play a former cop whose body is so powerful, and then he’s amputated from the throat down. All he has is a lung, a hand and a brain,” he says. “My level of discomfort led me to wonder it would feel for the character.”
How did it feel?
“In that suit, I felt powerful and vulnerable at the same time.”
“Robocop” (opening Wednesday) is a remake of the 1987 hit starring Peter Weller and Karen Allen. In the new version, set in 2028 Detroit, loving husband, father and cop Alex Murphy (Kinnaman) is critically injured in the line of duty. The evil OmniCorp turns him into half-man, half-robot in order to convince the world that our new governing force should be automated.
“My agents called and said there was a remake of ‘Robocop’ in the works,” Kinnaman says, “and all I could think was, ‘I’ll go see that in the theaters because I don’t think that’s a great fit for me.’ ”
His feelings changed when Brazil’s Jose Padilha (“Elite Squad”) signed on to direct. “When I heard that Jose was going to direct it, it completely changed my perspective of what the possibilities of this remake could be,” he says.
“There are a lot of wrong reasons to make a remake,” he adds. “But there are some good reasons to do it, and I knew that Jose would find the good reasons. Plus, I’ve seen four different ‘Hamlet’ productions and every single one has given me something different.”
He says that this isn’t the “Robocop” of 1987. “When that movie was made it was the futuristic vision that felt like a fantasy,” Kinnaman says. “In 2014, we’re so far into the future with technology that this doesn’t seem as much a fantasy.”
To prepare for the role, he had to do some intense training. “After putting on the suit during our prep time, I realized how physical the role would be for me, so I really hit the gym. This guy I play is special forces. He has to be really fit,” says Kinnaman, who hired a Swedish special forces expert to train. “I also worked with the Los Angeles SWAT team to learn their moves.”
Kinnaman got his start playing very human roles in Sweden and then was introduced to American audiences in movies including “Safe House” (2012) and “Lola Versus” (2012).
He isn’t worried about his life changing after taking on such an iconic role.
“Already people are quoting some of the lines they’ve heard from the new film like, ‘Let’s play good cop, Robocop,’ ” he says. “I like talking about my work, so come up and let’s discuss it.”
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