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Behind The Scenes Facts About The 80s Classic Movie Robocop

There’s no doubt about it: Sci-fi was flying high in the 1980s. Terminator was a box office smash. Alien was a must-see. And it seemed as if movie audiences couldn’t get enough of futuristic storytelling that was sophisticated, scary, and oh-so-bloody.

It was only a matter of time before a film like Robocop hit the cinema screen in all its gory glory. Read on to learn about how the movie came to be and what went on behind the scenes before and during the film’s production.

Photo: Gomez Portacelli

The Script Was Trashed…Literally

Robocop was the brainchild of story editor Ed Neumeier and film student Michael Miner, who found themselves incredibly disappointed when most executives passed on the story. Movie director Paul Verhoeven was so unimpressed with the script that he threw it in the trash but was encouraged by his wife to reconsider the movie’s potential.

Fortunately, the Orion Pictures movie studio needed no such convincing, having experienced the box office success of Terminator, and was willing to go full steam ahead with a movie about a murderous robotic cop.

Photo: Pantone

Inspiration Comes In Many Forms

At first glance, Robocop seems like a standard sci-fi action film, but in actuality, the film’s writers and producers took inspiration from various successful films and stories of the past that had enjoyed significant success. Neumeier worked on Blade Runner, which influenced his decision to depict a city in decline where robots stepped in to clean up a society headed down the wrong road and embracing lawlessness. The central character in the comic book Judge Dredd inspired the robocop’s stoic mannerisms, as did central figures in the Lone Ranger and Iron Man.

Photo: G. G. Figueroa

Preparing For A Demanding Role

Peter Weller auditioned for the robocop role several times; after snagging the part, he dedicated many months to working on perfecting rigid robotic movements, incorporating balletic training, and walking through Central Park in full-on football gear. Additionally, Weller relied on method acting, refusing to answer to any name other than that of his robocop character throughout filming. 


Not Well-Suited To The Action

Costume Designer Rob Bottin built a total of six robocop suits for the movie at a cost of $1 million. Because Bottin didn’t complete any of the suits until the day that shooting began, Weller wasn’t able to put on the suit, adapt to its cumbersome design, and practice moving in it before film production began. It took Weller 11 hours for Weller put on the suit, which was horribly confining, and extremely heavy and hot.


Owing to the fact that the movie was filmed in the heat of a Texas summer, Weller lost several pounds in sweat on a daily basis. Air hoses were put into the suit in an effort to cool the actor, who required near-constant rehydrating. According to Weller, “It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, and — wanna know the truth? — it was the most difficult thing anyone’s ever done. They had to have air-conditioning ducts pointed at me, blowing out freezing air every 20 minutes.”

Photo: Jose Aquino Hernandez

X Marks The Spot…Or Not

Gory, and some might say gratuitous, violence was on full display throughout Robocop. The movie’s director, Verhoeven, had a reputation for pushing the envelope and saw no need to pull back when it came to the movie’s most violent and shocking scenes. Legend has it that it was the director’s idea for the robocop to shoot at a rapist’s testicles instead of just aiming for his face. Seven film submissions to the MPAA netted Robocop an X rating, but the movie was eventually released with an R rating.