Bryan Cranston Interview For ‘Total Recall’
Welcome to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), even though he’s got a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life – real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man. Finding himself on the run from the police – controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), the leader of the free world – Quaid teams up with a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) to find the head of the underground resistance (Bill Nighy) and stop Cohaagen. The line between fantasy and reality gets blurred and the fate of his world hangs in the balance as Quaid discovers his true identity, his true love, and his true fate. Inspired anew by the famous short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick, ‘Totall Recall’ is directed by Len Wiseman. ‘Total Recall’ lands in cinemas August 3rd in the US and August 29th in the UK. My other ‘Total Recall’ interviews can be read here: Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, and Kate Beckinsale.
How did you approach the role of this ruthless, dastardly Chancellor Cohaagen?
Bryan Cranston: Cohaagan is a man who has brilliant ideas, and if you doubt that he’ll tell you himself (laughs). With Cohaagan, the way that I wanted approach this was that I’m not trying to be greedy or dictatorial. It’s a case of me having great ideas, and I want to lead these people in the Colony and the new United Federation of Britain to a better life. And I have the way to do it, I have the plan and it just has to be executed. And if you don’t follow it, well, you will be executed, because we have to think globally – what’s in the best interest for everyone. And these insurgents, these “terrorists”, who come in and try to throw a wrench in my plan, they have to be stopped because it’s not good for this entire world. So that was my approach to it, that he just has to squash this uprising.
He’s not the typical “moustache-twirling villain”?
Bryan Cranston: Yeah, I never saw him as a moustache-twirling villain. The character of Cohaagen to me was interesting to play because I wanted to present a guy who does have this need, this absolute desire and thirst to be in control. At the same time, he has a tremendous fondness for Colin Farrell’s character, and I wanted to play him like a father figure, to treat him as if he were a rebellious teenager who just needs some tough love. Cohaagen, he goes through that regretfully.
You sort of have to justify your actions for what your character wants and how he behaves?
Bryan Cranston: Yeah. He would be one of those megalomaniac, Wall Street kind of guys who turns to politics and can’t get enough, he can’t feed himself fast enough fr power. And definitely, Cohaagen feels like his way is the right way. His way is the best way for the greater good. And people who are going against him are either ignorant, or power hungry themselves. So I have to conform the ignorant and destroy the power hungry (laughs).
How did you find it working with Colin Farrell, considering the sort of dynamic your characters have in this film?
Bryan Cranston: I really enjoyed working with Colin. Colin, he’s intense, he’s gifted, he’s kind – and not just to other actors who work with him, he’s kind to the crew and to everyone, and that’s the indicator to me. So as the leader of our set, along with Len Wiseman the director, the lead actor needs to set a tone, and that tonality will be how everyone feels throughout the course of shooting that movie, or TV series, or whatever. And you will go the way the lead actor goes, and it was nice to know that he was the sort of leader you would go, “Lead the way.” I would work with him again in a second.
What was it like working with Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale?
Bryan Cranston: What everyone sees on the surface is the beauty, but behind the beauty is beauty (laughs). And then behind that is….beauty! They are very different, Kate and Jessica, very different in perfect complimentary ways. You think, “Fantastic, so no matter who I’m talking to I’m engaged and delighted.” They’re like works of art, in many ways. They’re really terrific actors, and that’s as much as you can hope for when you go into a movie or an experience like this; that you can engage with someone and there’s a give and take. And there’s no demands on how one actor approaches the work or another, it’s like, “What do you need? How can I give you what you need?” So that we have a good experience, but more importantly, for that period of time, so that the work gets on film and we accomplish what we want to do individually and collectively. They were a joy to work with.
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