Looking behind the scenes makes RoboCop even more remarkable. Sure, it's now considered one of the best action movies of the '80s, but making the film involved more drama than the onscreen saga of Alex Murphy. For example, if not for a mime saving the day on-set, the movie may have failed miserably. The story sounds pretty crazy, but it's true. Plus, there are many other interesting tidbits about Paul Verhoeven's 1987 classic.
Though it's easy to dismiss as mindless action, the genre-mixing release is secretly a smart satire, a rare work of astute political and cultural commentary that also includes a fantastic first-person sequence. RoboCop explores what it means to exist as a human in a rapidly evolving world.
The scene in which RoboCop blasts the testicles off a rapist was almost a lot less memorable. Per the script, the hero was to shoot the villain over the victim's shoulder. Verhoeven decided it was a better idea if RoboCop shot between the victim's legs, hitting the perpetrator right in the gonads, effectively turning subtext into text.
Kurtwood Smith played crime boss Clarence Boddicker, the villain in RoboCop. However, a couple of Smith's most memorable scenes resulted from improvisations. It seems perfect when Clarence throws his underling out of a van, asking, “Can you fly, Bobby?” The line wasn't in the script, though.
Also, during the police station scene, Smith's character spits bloody phlegm on a cop’s desk and screams, “Give me my f*cking phone call!” Those words were also not planned. The other actors in the scene were genuinely shocked, as evidenced by their on-screen reactions.
The filmmakers shot a scene of RoboCop in Los Angeles, CA, three months after every other act. It was a late addition to the project - the crew had already wrapped filming. Completely exhausting the $12 million budget, director of RoboCop, Paul Verhoeven, didn't have a scene depicting Alex Murphy's death. This moment is integral to the story, though, humanizing the character and distinguishing RoboCop from a garden variety superhero in the process.
Fortunately, the studio recognized the importance of a death sequence, expanding the budget just enough to include the final piece.
The setting for RoboCop was in a dystopian, futuristic version of Detroit, MI, but virtually none of the filming took place there. The opening scene shows an aerial view of Detroit, MI, but it's just stock footage. The filmmakers shot most of the movie in Dallas, TX. The climactic action sequence, however, was filmed in a Pennsylvania steel mill.
The Texas locale was ideal because it was so isolated. RoboCop co-screenwriter Michael Miner even claimed, "At 3 am, you could shoot off some blanks there and blow up an old part of town."