Jean-Paul Sartre famously said, “Hell is other people.” Director Jose Padhila has his own personal definition. He was quoted saying that working on the RoboCop remake, his first go-round with a studio picture, is “hell.”
The reboot of Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 classic hasn’t even started principal photography yet, but this isn’t the first problem the production has encountered. A well-publicized script review eviscerated the entire plot (it does sound less wonderful than you might have hoped) and started some widespread grumbling. However, the biggest blow was actor Hugh Laurie dropping out of the project. He was slated to play the main villain, leaving RoboCop without an antagonist to play against star Joel Kinnaman (AMC’s The Killing).
Screen Crush found an article from Brazilian website Cinema Rapadura, where they spoke with director Fernando Meirelles (City of God), a friend of Padhila’s. Here’s what Meirelles said about his conversation with the RoboCop director:
I talked to José Padhila for a week by phone. He will begin filming Robocop. He is saying that it is the worst experience. For every 10 ideas he has, 9 are cut. Whatever he wants, he has to fight. ‘This is hell here,’ he told me. ‘The film will be good, but I never suffered so much and do not want to do it again.’ He is bitter, but it’s a fighter.
Those are definitely strong words, but should probably be taken with a grain of salt. The original article is written in Portuguese, and these bits have been translated (via an online translation tool). Also, these aren’t direct quotes from Padhila; they’re second-hand information, a friend relaying a conversation. In both cases it is possible that something has been lost along the way.
For my money, here’s the biggest thing to take into account. Even if this quote is 100% accurate, even if this is exactly what Padhila said, it’s possible he’s just venting. This is his job, and who among us doesn’t get frustrated and need to rant about work to a friend sometimes? Even at a job you love, this still happens. Can’t you imagine a scenario where Padhila and Meirelles were chatting, and Padhila just needed to vent to someone who might understand, to another director, in what he thought was a private moment?
Padhila certainly isn’t the first successful international director to come to Hollywood and find working within the studio system problematic. We’ll have to wait and see if this is a symptom of a bigger issue, or a one-time, isolated incident.
RoboCop is scheduled for release on August 9, 2013. Even with all the surrounding negativity, the film has a solid cast, and Padhila is strong director, so hopefully if anyone can pull off a decent movie, this crew can.