Recently it was announced that Neill Blomkamp is going to direct a new movie in the Robocop franchise. The film is set to be a direct sequel to the original 1987 film and is going to be based on a screenplay written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner – the writers of the original movie.
Barring a time jump of 30 years in the film series, like Blade Runner 2049, it would be unlikely that Peter Weller would return to his iconic role as the titular Robocop. Another actor would be required to follow in Weller’s heavy footsteps. The part would need an actor in the late-30s to mid-40s – a man who would have a young family and need to be able to show emotion – and have a sharp comedic tone despite speaking with a robotic video delivery and wearing a helmet. It would be a challenge and here are some actors who would be able to face it.
Australian actor Joel Edgerton is a man who has proven himself as an action and dramatic actor. He has developed a reputation as a character actor and worthy of a lot of the praise he receives. Edgerton was physically imposing as an MMA fighting in the sports drama and handled firearms in Zero Dark Thirty, and Jane Got a Gun.
One of his most recent roles was in the Netflix fantasy-action film Bright. While the film was criticized by critics Edgerton was praised as Nick Jakoby – the first Orcish police officer in the LAPD – a well-meaning fella on the receiving end of discrimination and racism. The role was particularly challenging because of the makeup and prosthetics he had to wear – so it wouldn’t be a stretch for Edgerton to don the Robocop suit.
Ben Foster is a talented actor who flirted with the action genre. He has appeared in franchise films like X-Men: The Last Stand, Warcraft, and Inferno, although he never had the lead role. It is time that should change.
Foster started his career as a pretty boy actor but as he got older he has developed a more everyman look, and he could follow in Peter Weller’s footsteps as Alex Murphy, a hardworking family man who succumbs to tragedy. Throughout his career Foster has the range and surprisingly played a large number of villains – he was a saboteur in 30 Days of Night, the leader of a group of outlaws in 3:10 to Yuma, a corrupt wizard in Warcraft and a mad industrialist who plans to release a virus in Inferno.
Foster is also an award-winning actor for some of his dramatic roles – nor is his a stranger to special effects. He wore prosthetic wings when he made X-Men: The Last Stand and worn fantasy costumes, so he would be able to don the Robocop suit.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an actor who is quite selective with the roles he plays, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a major action film under his belt. Like many actors on this list, he has proven himself in roles, earning numerous nominations including two Golden Globes and worked with directors like Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, and Rian Johnson. Working with Blomkamp would be a big incentive to do Robocop because Blomkamp generally gets good performances from his actors and his fondness for social and political commentary he would raise Robocop to be more than just an action film. The Robocop sequel will be aimed towards savvy, adult audiences.
Gordon-Levitt is no stranger to action and special effects – he had a zero gravity fist fight in Inception, cycled like a madman around New York in Premium Rush and had to work with a lot of green screen in The Walk. Gordon-Levitt does have a youthful look but he is approaching 40, and it would be conceivable for him to play a man who had a young family.
Whoever plays Robocop has a tough role because they need to outwardly seem robotic (for lack of a better word), but has many emotions and conflict underneath. An actor who has managed this difficult balance is Ryan Gosling.
Gosling is a pretty boy and a sex symbol, and he has proven himself to be a talented actor throughout his career: he has been charming, funny, emotionally pained and willing to play against type, being a thug or a loser. Despite his looks, Gosling has been willing to ugly himself up like in films like Blue Valentine and when he was cast for The Lovely Bones he put on 20 pounds and grew a beard – it was a role he ended up getting fired from. Whoever plays Robocop needs to put on the iconic costume.
The two roles that should put Gosling in contention are The Driver and Officer K from Drive and Blade Runner 2049. Gosling played characters who are focused; remorseless yet has a lot bubbling under the surface. Both had an intensity and a pain to them and Gosling could bring these characteristics to Robocop.
A few years ago Boyd Holbrook was seen as the next big thing, being considered for roles like Kyle Reese in Terminator Genisys. Throughout his career, Holbrook has proven himself to be a talented actor. Holbrook started his career as a model, but he has played angsty types – he was a homeless drug addict in A Walk Among the Tombstones and one of the villains in Logan. He is set to play one of the lead roles in The Predator.
Holbrook is clearly still on the rise and a playing a major role like Robocop would cement his stardom. He already has action experience, and as shown in Logan he had robotic body parts. He could make the character even darker as he re-adjusts with society beyond his law enforcement duties.
I like there to be at least one wildcard entry, and that honor goes to Christopher Meloni. Meloni is a character actor with a long career – having main roles in Oz, Law, and Order: Special Victims Unit and the Syfy channel show Happy! Superhero fans will recognize Meloni as Colonel Hardy in Man of Steel.
Meloni is 57-years-old, making him the oldest individual on this list. If the Robocop sequel a long time after the original, say 15-to-20 years, the film would need an older actor to play Murphy/Robocop – the character is half-human and his human parts still age.
Meloni is still good shape for age and Happy! allows him to flex his action muscles. He usually plays serious roles, but he does have experience in comedy – Happy! is a dark comedy, he has appeared in two episodes of Veep, and the Amy Schumer film Snatched. If Meloni can combine both these two type of performances he could make a great older Alex Murphy.
Marvel’s Inhumans was hated by fans and critics, yet one of its stars came out being praised – Anson Mount. Mount played Black Bolt, the king of the Inhumans and had such a powerful voice that it could destroy buildings. But because of Black Bolt’s destructive voice, Mount had to remain silent during most of the show, and he had to use his eyes and facial expressions to show any emotions. Because of this Mount should be all about playing Robocop – a role where for most of the runtime only his lower face is visible and speaks with an altered voice. It would be a difficult challenge but Mount should be up to it.
Aaron Paul is best known for TV work, appearing in shows like Big Love, The Path, Bojack Horseman and his most significant role, playing Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad. Paul even won the Best Supporting Actor Award at the Emmys three times for his role in Breaking Bad. Big things were expected of him, leading the 2014 action film Need for Speed. Despite this flop, Paul is a capable actor and should be given another chance to lead a blockbuster. Paul has shown he can be dramatic and funny, especially in his voice role as Todd Chavez and he can use his these skills to play Robocop. Like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Paul has a youthful look despite approaching 40.
Alexander Skarsgård, son of Stellan, is a Swedish actor who deserves more recognition than he already has. Skarsgård is most famous for his role as sexy vampire Eric Northman in HBO’s True Blood and he been a fine actor throughout his career.
Most audiences would have first come across Skarsgård for his lead role in the HBO mini-series Generation Kill, playing a professional Marine sergeant. Skarsgård has a grand resume of military types – he played a Naval officer in Battleship and a German army officer in the war film The Last Drop. Skarsgård needed to speak with authority for these roles, and he would need to do it again if he played Robocop.
Skarsgård recently a man with mutism in the Netflix sci-fi film Mute. It was a challenging role because he had to emote without the speaking and Skarsgård could translate these skills to play Robocop with his monotone.
Skarsgård also got to flex his action muscles in The Legend of Tarzan, a decent historical action film where the Swede got to show off his body.
Last but certainly not least is New Zealander actor Karl Urban. Urban has had a long and successful career, playing roles like Éomer in Lord of the Rings and Dr. McCoy in Star Trek. Yet the part that would honestly put him in the hearts of fans was when he played Judge Dredd in the 2012 comic book film Dredd. The original Robocop film was inspired by Judge Dredd, and Urban would have no issue wearing a helmet throughout a movie. Urban’s Dredd was a hard-boiled figure who had a dry sense-of-humor, and he would be able to make Robocop authoritative yet still have a wit about him and if the new film looks at Alex Murphy’s family Urban would be able to portray Robocop’s emotional state – physically a machine but emotionally a human.