It’s been announced that Bryan Cranston – three-time Emmy-winning star of AMC’s Breaking Bad – is in negotiations to star as the villain in the upcoming Total Recall remake, which is in development over at Columbia Pictures.

The remake is of course being directed by Len Wiseman (Underworld) and will star Colin Farrell as Douglas Quaid, the leading role once made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The announcement of Cranston as the villain is somewhat surprising (albeit welcome): the last we heard about this Total Recall remake was that a shortlist of actresses were being considered for the film’s two leading female roles – one of which was played by Sharon Stone in Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 adaptation of famed sci-fi author Phillip K. Dick’s short story, “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”.

Speaking of Verhoeven’s film: we know that screenwriter Kurt Wimmer (Salt, Equilibrium) is sticking closer to Dick’s original story than the original Total Recall did, which raises some interesting questions as to who exactly Cranston will be playing. Verhoeven’s film had two primary villains: Corrupt Mars administrator / evil mastermind Vilos Cohaagen (Ronny Cox), and his ruthless henchman Richter (Michael Ironside). Whether Cranston will be playing the bad guy with brains or brawn has yet to be announced.

In the meantime, check out the synopsis for “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” for an idea of how this remake could be different:

Douglas Quail, a simple and ordinary man, wishes to visit Mars. Unable to afford it, he visits a company, Rekal, Incorporated, that offers implanted memories (“extra-factual memory”). The attempt to implant some racy Mars memories of Quail as a secret agent reveals that Quail actually is an undercover government assassin with a mind full of dangerous secrets. The Rekal staff quickly get Quail out of their office; he heads home and finds certain physical evidence to support his new old memories.

The government initially seeks his death but instead Quail manages to make a deal. He returns to Rekal to have his Mars memories once more suppressed, and is offered by way of compensation a set of heroic wish-fulfillment false memories. The Rekal staff begin the memory-implanting procedure — and uncover a different and older set of suppressed memories revealing that the unbelievable memories they are about to insert are already there and are true.

Dick’s story had many deep themes about identity, reality, memory and perception that were lightly touched upon in the movie version; however, Verhoeven’s film was primarily an action vehicle for Schwarzenegger. In this post-Inception era of filmmaking, you can bet your sweet bippy that this remake is going to play with the line between fantasy and reality – which could make for a great sci-fi film if handled properly, or for another overly-ambitious meta letdown (Sucker Punch, looking at you…).

Cranston will also be seen on the big screen in the action/thriller Drive, the Steven Soderbergh ensemble thriller Contagion, and Disney’s adaptation of John Carter of Mars. Breaking Bad is still being aired on AMC.

Total Recall is slated for release on August 3, 2012.

Source: Variety