I’ve heard some great stories about the David Cronenberg movies that almost were. Indeed, I once heard Cronenberg himself tell the tale of taking a phone call from the office of George Lucas, who wanted to feel the Toronto-born director out on the subject of directing Return of the Jedi. Cronenberg sniffed that he didn’t really direct material written by other people, and that was the end of that. (The conversation is all the more ironic if you consider that since that moment, Cronenberg has directed material originated by William S. Burroughs, J.G. Ballard, and Don DeLillo, among others. Maybe he just didn’t think of Lucas as a writer on that level?)
Cronenberg also turned down a chance to direct Top Gun, finding it too jingoistic (plus, as a Canadian, Cronenberg doubly wasn’t into it).
What I didn’t know until recently is that Cronenberg was the first director to be considered to direct Total Recall, which was eventually directed (rather well) by Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, previously responsible for Robocop.
Interestingly, Ronald Shusett and Dan O’Bannon had tried to develop Philp K. Dick’s story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” as a script in the 1970s before concluding that the special effects would be too costly—their next project would become Alien, the commercial success of which kick-started the orignal PKD project again.
Cronenberg worked on pre-production for the PKD project for about a year, a process that generated the fascinating concept art seen below. His choice for the lead role was to have been William Hurt, a far cry from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s, er, likely less thoughtful approach to the movie. After Cronenberg’s labors, the producers told him that they admired his treatment but were hoping for something a little bit closer to “Raiders of the Lost Ark Go to Mars,” so Cronenberg returned to a project that would have a tone that interested him much more, that being a remake of the 1958 sci-fi classic The Fly.
Purportedly, Cronenberg’s take on the material would have been lot closer to Dick’s original story than the Verhoeven movie.
The artworks here were created by Ron Miller and his wife Judith Miller, who was responsible for the 3-D models, as well as production designer Pierluigi Basile.
via One Perfect Shot
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Total Recall: The Musical
Long live the New Flesh: The making of David Cronenberg’s ‘Videodrome’