Depending on your age and which side of the Atlantic you hail from Hugh Laurie is either a brilliantly witty, understated bastion of British comedy or an accomplished dramatic actor who rose to fame as the title character in Fox Broadcasting’s medical drama House. For that matter, there’s probably a significant number of you only now realizing that the man was not born in America. Regardless of your stance on Laurie, you’d have to agree that casting him in a major action movie would instantly elevate that flick into something that should, if nothing else, be an interesting production.
Such is the case with the upcoming RoboCop reboot. According to Variety, Laurie “is in negotiations to play the villain” in the film, which, as with the original RoboCop, would make him the CEO of Omni Corp. Those of you who’ve committed the original RoboCop to memory will recall Omni Corp as the giant megacorporation that rescues an economically flailing futuristic Detroit, privatizes its police force, and creates the titular robotic police officer in an effort to make law enforcement agents who are more durable, capable and, most crucially, subservient to the corporation’s morally suspect whims.
In the original film the evil CEO was played by Ronny Cox who exuded the perfect blend of professionalism, slimeball greed and craven disregard for anyone else’s well-being in his drive for ever-increasing profits. It has yet to be confirmed that Laurie’s character will be the same as Cox’s, despite both being the key antagonist in their respective RoboCop films, though presumably the new film’s villain will have to share many similarities with the original. Though, if Laurie is cast, it seems quite likely that his version would be more deadpan and directly menacing than Cox’s (at least, it would be if we assume that director Jose Padilha is going to attempt the same kind of dark satire that made the Paul Verhoeven-helmed original such a classic).
It should also be noted that Laurie’s still-hypothetical addition would see him joining a cast that already includes Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson and Abbie Cornish. Say what you will of remakes or the sanctity of the original RoboCop, but you can’t deny that the film is slated to feature a very interesting group of actors. It’s just too bad they can’t de-age Peter Weller for the title role; that man can play a cybernetic Jesus allegory like no one else.