Neill Blomkamp on the weird, rock 'n roll origin of his new sci-fi flick, Chappie

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Feb 25, 2015, 6:51 PM EST (Updated)

The fact that Neill Blomkamp actually got the bizarre sci-fi film Chappie made is an absolute testament to the respect the director has garnered on the heels of films like District 9 and Elysium. Because this flick isn’t just risky — it’s straight-up weird. In the best way possible.

If you’re unfamiliar, Blomkamp has assembled an A-list cast including Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver to co-star in a film that is headlined by a purely CGI robot who just wants to live his life over in South Africa. Oh, and be a little gangsta in the process. The film aims to tell a very human story with a very robotic voice at the center, and we’re dying to see how it turns out.

But how did the whole thing come together? One part inspiration from the robotic short Tetra Vaal that Blomkamp made back in 2004, and one part inspiration from the largely obscure South African rave-rap group Die Antwoord. In fact, Blomkamp was listening to so much Die Antwoord when he came up with the film that he decided to cast the band’s members, Ninja and Yolandi Vi$$er, as characters — essentially making them key players in the narrative. They basically play a shadier version of themselves as they raise Chappie and teach him to be a criminal.

Here's what he told Coming Soon about the genesis of the project:

“I was trying to get out of doing visual effects and move into music videos and commercials, so I was trying to direct basically and just show that I had a collection of work so I could get representation as a commercial director. I shot that piece, which in retrospect is kind of a weird piece, because it’s not a Nike commercial. I would have done better trying to get into commercials if I did a fake Gatorade commercial, but I did something that I loved and that’s always a good thing. I just wanted to see a police robot in Africa. But that didn’t lead to this film though. What led to this film was that while I was writing Elysium, I was writing those droids in that movie, and I was listening to Die Antwoord separately. One night, I just came up with the idea of that band raising one of these robots. That is really the genesis of this film, and then I was like ‘Well, I’ve already done a police robot thing way back.’ I’ll just tie the name to that and a couple of other things. So I used Tetrovaal as the company…

Yeah, probably a year before I came up with the idea for Chappie I had met them and obviously I knew their music, so I just had their music on when I was doing Elysium, and I was like, ‘Sh*t, this would actually be very interesting if they were themselves.’ Not even acting, just themselves, raising this robot, and they’ve gotten into criminal activity. That’s an interesting concept and that’s where it came from.”

For a film this strange, we wouldn’t expect anything less when it comes to the story that actually inspired it all. Not many filmmakers get a chance to make an outside-the-box sci-fi flick, and even fewer get to do it with their favorite musicians in the cast. Kudos to Blomkamp. Here's hoping this movie rocks.

Do you plan on checking out Chappie when it opens March 6?

(Via Coming Soon)