You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but Director Len Wiseman is a Geek. Sure, he’s directed high octane blockbusters like Live Free Or Die Hard and Underworld, as well as this week’s remake of Total Recall. But at heart? Wiseman is the same little kid reading sci-fi and comics, just able to embrace his passions on an insanely larger scale. (Watch Wiseman's "Director's Commentary" on the Total Recall trailer at MTV Movies!)
Even with that, though, he was hesitant to come on board Total Recall at first after developing “other people’s material” with Die Hard, Hawaii Five-O, and more. “It was one of those scripts I read not wanting to like it,” said Wiseman when we caught up with him in LA in advance of the movie’s release. “And then I got hooked.”
When it came to the production side of things, though, Wiseman pulled from his own experiences - and in fact, his own home. “I collect a lot of science fiction artwork,” said Wiseman. “If you go to my house, it’s like a library, I geek out on science fiction material.” And you can see the influence on screen: images are alternately reminiscent of Blade Runner, Minority Report, and even, occasionally, of Star Trek. The world on screen is - quite honestly - unlike any other that’s been seen in sci-fi movies before, yet at the same time, utterly familiar. Wiseman also cites Brazil, Aliens, and Star Wars in particular as an influence for Total Recall, as those were all movies he grew up loving.
Still, before you think little Len Wiseman was hold up in his room, hoping to some day adapt Philip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale,” the REAL way... Think again. “I look at the original movie as an Arnold film,” said Wiseman, and continued that he didn’t even read Dick’s story until he got to college. Nope, L'il Wiseman's attention was elsewhere, as when asked what elements from the original picture he had to bring back for the new version: "Three breasted hooker was at the top of the list. Like I said, I was fourteen!" he said with a laugh.
Despite those, er, appeals, the real draw for Wiseman was the chance to realize his own world. “I’m much more of a science fiction fan than a fantasy fan,” said the Director. “The distinction of science fiction is that it’s based off of science, and where science could possibly go. It has such a ‘what if’ quality, where fantasy is a different thing. I’ve always been drawn to that... The reality that these things could possibly happen.”
One item in particular? A cell phone embedded in some of the character’s palms, which lights up when you get close, and can project video onto glass surfaces. “I don’t think that’s that crazy of an idea,” said Wiseman. “I’ve seen implant technology... I’d seen something a while ago in Japan where they were putting LCD tattoos into the skin. So there’s the LCD tattoos you see in the film, as well the phone systems.”
That’s not the only prominent piece of future-tech in the film, though. One memorable sequence features a mag-lev hovercar chase through the streets of Great Britain. “We were talking to an engineer, they’re really developing things in a way that makes sense to how the world progresses,” said Wiseman, explaining why the cars were set up the way they were in the movie. “At some point we’re going to have to start building up, we’re going to run out of room to go outwards. Once you build up, you have to somehow design and build a transportation system that will accommodate that. That’s what we did here.”
Total Recall opens this Friday, August 3rd in theaters everywhere. Watch the trailer below:
Full Disclosure: Travel and accommodations for this story were paid for by Sony Pictures, which produced Total Recall. Photo ©2012 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.