One of the coolest movie moments so far this year was the return of RoboCop to the big screen. The long-awaited, much-buzzed remake of the sci-fi classic has now hit home video, and BFTV had the opportunity to chat with star Abbie Cornish – the woman behind Alex Murphy/RoboCop’s loyal wife Clara – about her own knowledge of the RoboCop franchise and keeping her character away from being the cliched spouse.
“I grew up with RoboCop,” the Australian actress told us. “We had it on VHS when I was a kid. I was very familiar with it. I signed on to this not only because of the nostalgic reasons, but also because of the director, Jose Padilha. I felt the film was in the hands of a very great director, [and] I also thought that it was a timely movie.”
She was stepping into what, in many action movies, is a thankless role. The wife of the hero is all too often left to stand on the sidelines and worry about her other half, or at worst, get kidnapped or killed by the bad guys. We asked Abbie if she wanted to make a conscious effort to not play that part. “Yeah,” she said. “I think [the writers] were in that same mindset, too.
“It was about giving her as much depth as you possibly can, but also in context of the story at hand. Playing the wife and the mother in a situation like that is very specific. I only had two moments to show her lighter, happier side…There wasn’t much room for those types of emotions.”
One of her favorite parts of the movie is one that she’s not actually a part of: RoboCop’s training sequence. “It’s really well made,” she said, “and it’s entertaining and exciting!”
Also pretty exciting? Being part of a blockbuster movie that went on to become the highest-grossing film in the entire franchise. “I think it was fun. Growing up with a movie like that and then being in the remake of it was cool. It was exciting,” Abbie reflected. “And it was a really easy experience making the movie. There’s a lot of great people attached to the movie [and] we had a great crew.”
Clara is also a pretty different role for Abbie, whose previous trip into the sci-fi/fantasy world was appearing in Sucker Punch three years ago. What other projects would she point out to RoboCop fans who haven’t seen her work yet? “I would love for them to watch Candy, the Australian film that I did with Heath Ledger,” she said.
“And then Bright Star, the film that I made with Jane Campion directing and Ben Whishaw, about the poet John Keats. I did this little film when I was 20 called Somersault, and that’s an Australian film. It was my first lead role in a feature film. So in order, it’s Somersault, Candy, Bright Star.”
Having been part of smaller, critically acclaimed pictures like Bright Star and big tentpole movies like RoboCop, Abbie told us that her taste similarly falls partly into both categories. “I grew up watching independent and arthouse films, but as I got older my taste became a combination of that and bigger, more mainstream films,” she said. “Same goes for my taste in music. I started out really underground, sort of in the 60’s, 70’s, rock and roll, jazz and also some hip-hop. And then as I got older, I’ve sort of opened up.
“I actually listen to and watch everything, to be honest, and I think it’s starting to reflect in my work more,” she continued. “I think when I started as an actor, I was adamant about doing more independent films…but then I started to branch out and explore, and I’ve had an amazing time. For me, now there’s no limit.”
RoboCop is out now on Blu-Ray and DVD. For more on Abbie, you can also follow her on Twitter (@_abbiecornish).