Negotiations to have Hugh Laurie portray the antagonist in José Padilha's RoboCop remake/reboot unexpectedly failed to result in a deal last week. Clive Owen was rumored to be among MGM's top choices to take Laurie's would-be role, but the part has instead gone to Batman and Beetlejuice fan-fave Michael Keaton.
Keaton is playing Raymond Sellars, the conniving head of the futuristic OmniCorp responsible for turning critically-injured police officer Alex Murphy (The Killing's Joel Kinnaman) into a new lucrative war-time product: a cyborg cop, armed and ready for battle. This is the last major casting update for the project, which is scheduled to being principal photography in a matter of weeks.
Deadline is confirming that Keaton has come aboard for RoboCop, which will mark only the fourth occasion the actor has appeared on the big screen over the past eight years (discounting his voice acting as Ken in Toy Story 3). The quirky actor turns 61 next week, but has tentative plans to reprise his iconic Tim Burton role as "the ghost with the most" in Beetlejuice 2 - if the currently-developing sequel doesn't collapse, that is.
Padilha has released the following statement with regards to the casting of Keaton in RoboCop, as well as the impending start date for production on the re-imagining of Paul Verhoeven's 1987 cult classic:
“Michael is the final addition to the amazing cast we have assembled for this film and it is so great to have the last puzzle piece in place. It is thrilling that everything has come together to bring this innovative new vision of RoboCop to life. We’ve got a great script, a great cast, some killer ED-209’s and I can’t wait to get Alex Murphy back on the streets."
Earlier this week, the story leaked out that Padilha has found the process of developing RoboCop within the studio system quite frustrating, according to his good friend and fellow Brazilian filmmaker, Fernando Meirelles (City of God). However, Padilha also assured Meirelles the remake will indeed be good, despite (or, rather, because of) his difficult experience.
An unenthusiastic script review for RoboCop began circulating a couple weeks back, suggesting that writers Joshua Zetumer and Nick Schenk (Gran Torino) might be struggling to aptly incorporate the intriguing concepts Padilha wants to explore. However, we've since heard rumors that draft has been heavily revised; at the least, James Vanderbilt (Zodiac, The Amazing Spider-Man) did some polishing.
Creative struggles and constant re-scripting are all standard procedure for studio films; obviously, though, that is no guarantee the RoboCop re-do will turn out well. Nonetheless, the script/director have proven promising enough to land strong acting talent like Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Abbie Cornish, Jackie Earle Haley, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Jennifer Ehle - with Keaton as a final solid addition (so that's encouraging).
RoboCop opens in U.S. theaters on August 9th, 2013.