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Total Recall Trivia

VO: Dan
It is an iconic sci-fi flick from 1990 that received its own television series, and big budget reboot in 2012 starring Colin Farrell. Even if you've seen all there is to see, there's a lot of behind the scenes information and trivia to discover. For example, did you know it was based on a short story by Philip K. Dick from 1966 called "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale"? Some of the trivia will entertain you, other facts may shock you. It's time to learn what was real and what was recall. Join as we explore ten pieces of trivia you should know about “Total Recall.”

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Total Recall Trivia

What is real and what is simulated? Welcome to, and today we’ll be exploring ten pieces of trivia you should know about “Total Recall.”

#1 – Consider the Source

Kicking off our list is a fun fact about the origins of this sci-fi stunner. “Total Recall” wasn't a Hollywood invention at all: it was actually a loose adaptation of Philip K. Dick's 1966 short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” that tells a fantastic science fiction tale about fabricated memories.

#2 – The Story That Started it All

Unlike the films, Dick's story focused on a man who is unable to afford a trip to Mars and instead buys a simulated vacation where he is a secret agent. However, it is soon revealed that he is an actual undercover government assassin who holds dangerous secrets. Attempts to kill him fail, and so he makes a deal to exchange his real memories for fantasy memories where he saved the Earth from aliens. But, that also turns out to be true.

#3 – The Long Road Through Development Hell

“Total Recall” had a turbulent ride to the big screen. After buying the story's right, the writers of “Alien” penned the first screenplay in 1974 without studio backing. Eventually, producer Dino De Laurentiis signed off and actors like Richard Dreyfuss and Patrick Swayze were approached. However, when De Laurentiis' studio went bankrupt, Arnold Schwarzenegger took the opportunity to persuade Carolco to buy the script and cast him for a $10 million salary, 15 percent of the profits and veto power over production.

#4 – Fabricating Reality Is No Easy Task

After 40 script drafts that depicted the main character as everything from an accountant to Arnie's suggestion of a construction worker, “Recall” finally went into production. It became one of the last movies to use large-scale miniature effects, and one of the first to embrace CGI. But they didn't need effects to create their futuristic subway system: they just used the real Mexico City subway with a new paint job, added monitors, and special sci-fi touches.

#5 – Arnie Brings the Pain

The problems bringing 1990's “Total Recall” to the big screen were not all development issues: Arnie sustained multiple injuries like a broken finger and a crushed hand due to stunts-gone-wrong, which meant his hands were out of frame for parts of the film. But Schwarzenegger says one his biggest challenges was tangling with the drastic changes his character went through during the story.

#6 – The Crew That Spewed

During the film's shoot in Mexico, the entire crew got food poisoning – with the exception of Arnie and writer Ronald Shusett. Schwarzenegger had learned his lesson while shooting “Predator” overseas and had his food catered from the U.S. Shusett took extreme health measures and got weekly vitamin shots. Everybody mocked him. Well, until the hurling started...

#7 – Violence is Never the Answer

Because of the movie's extreme violence, “Recall” was given a devastating X rating. To open it to a wider audience, the carnage was edited down for a more marketable R rating, though 77 screen deaths remain. So this is the tame version? Even with Arnie using a dude as a meat shield?

#8 – “Recall” on the Small Screen

“Total Recall 2070” was a 1999 TV show that was meant as a prequel to the 1990 movie, since it was set in 2084. The series incorporated robots from Dick's novel “Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep?,” and borrowed visual elements from its movie adaptation “Blade Runner.” However, aside from keeping the memory-planting company Rekall, “2070” shared no similarities with its sources, and didn't even credit the author.

#9 – The Cast's the Thing

Arnie wanted to reprise his “Recall” role in the 2012 remake, despite his age. Colin Farrell was finally picked as his successor, and this wasn't his first time he adapted Dick's work: years earlier, Farrell appeared in “Minority Report,” which was a version of Philip K. Dick's story of the same name. It was originally developed as a “Total Recall” sequel, and was slated to star Schwarzenegger once again, but Tom Cruise was cast in the end.

#10 – A Reboot for the New Millennium

Rounding out our trivia list is more info about the 2012 remake. This reboot took the story in a new direction by ignoring all references to Mars and by splitting Earth into the Battling nations of New Shanghai and Euroamerica. The $200 million, Canadian-filmed spectacle kept audiences guessing which side Colin Farrell was really on, and featured him in a stunning one-shot fight scene which required 22 takes before he finally got it right.

What’s your favorite “Total Recall” factoid? For more entertaining trivia videos, be sure to visit us at

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