Did you know that Robocop almost fell apart early in the shooting stage? If not for the help of a mime, we might never have gotten the opportunity to see Paul Verhoeven’s violent sci-fi classic.
SyFy’s Blastr blog has the full details on this fascinating bit of movie history, but the gist of it is this: Peter Weller put in extensive hours to prep for the role of the cop-turned-cyborg, including grueling hours in a make-up chair (roughly eight hours per day prior to actually filming anything). When he wasn’t being fitted for his iconic costume, the actor spent a great deal of time working on how Robocop would move. To achieve the right kind of motion, Weller turned to mime Moni Yakim.
Yakim, who worked with Marceau, helped the actor develop a fluid motion with an abrupt staccato at the end. It was perfect, and Weller worked on it for hours every day. Things were going great until he realized that the walk didn’t work with the heavy costume he’d be wearing in the majority of the film.
With his walk inspiring more laughter than authority, morale on the set plummeted – until Weller decided to bring Yakim back.
The mime recalls his trip and what he found on arrival, “a car came and took me over to the set. Nothing was happening. Everybody was depressed, especially Paul Verhoeven, who was going absolutely crazy. It was his first chance at doing a big American movie. I came to an extremely depressed place.” Together, the two created a new gait for the character – one with a slower pace and that took the bulk of the costume into consideration. After an hour of work, Weller and Yakim showed off their new strut – to the delight of Verhoeven and crew. With the issue fixed, the film could finally move forward – and Robocop as we know it today was born.
So, next time you’re thinking to yourself “man, mimes are almost as lame as furries and cosplayers,” remember that a mime helped save one of the greatest cult sci-fi films in history.