Now that House, M.D. has concluded an eight-season run, star Hugh Laurie is once again available for more than the occasional onscreen appearance (Street Kings) or voiceover job (Arthur Christmas). Besides a leading role in the upcoming Mister Pip adaptation, it looks like Laurie’s next significant live-action role will be a part in the RoboCop remake/reboot.
Laurie is currently in negotiations for the new RoboCop; assuming a deal is struck, he’ll portray the villainous CEO of Omnicorp (known as Omni Consumer Products, in the original film), the organization responsible for resurrecting near-dead Detroit cop Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) as the titular super-human cyborg.
Credit for the scoop on Laurie circling RoboCop goes to Heat Vision; as is also mentioned in their report, the actor could join a cast that already includes such noteworthy people as Abbie Cornish (Bright Star), Gary Oldman, and Samuel L. Jackson in supporting roles. That’s a different collection of talent than the buzz-worthy acting crew MGM/Sony was supposedly eying originally (including, Edward Norton and Rebecca Hall), but it’s equally impressive. Certainly, part of the appeal of the RoboCop do-over (for the actors) is the opportunity to appear in the first Hollywood vehicle helmed by acclaimed Brazilian filmmaker, José Padilha (Elite Squad).
Few concrete details are currently available for the RoboCop reboot script, which Nick Schenk (Gran Torino), James Vanderbilt (The Amazing Spider-Man), and promising newcomer Joshua Zetumer share screenwriting credits on. Padilha previously indicated that his take on the story will explore the process (physical and psychological) that Murphy undergoes to become a half-machine; moreover, Murphy’s (ex-)wife (Cornish) is expected to play a much more significant role in the proceedings. Those elements alone could help to distinguish Padilha’s RoboCop from Verhoeven’s, considering Murphy’s wife was only featured via flashbacks in his version – and the title character’s transformation was covered over the course of a brief montage (shown entirely from Murphy’s POV).
Padilha’s RoboCop will also cover social themes similar to those in Verhoeven’s movie (in particular, the influence of corporate America), in addition to exploring ideas about the increased prevalence of technology in our everyday lives. There’s certainly a risk that the satire in RoboCop could fall on the preachy side – or (worse?) retread the exact same territory as Verhoeven did – but Padilha has already demonstrated a knack for mixing social commentary with gritty violence, which bodes well for the remake. Having people like Laurie and Oldman around to humanize the film’s “evil businessmen” should also help, in that regard.
RoboCop is scheduled to begin production later this summer, in order to make an August 9th, 2013 U.S. theatrical release date.