Abbie Cornish as Clara Murphy in RoboCop

Film has come full circle for actress ABBIE CORNISH: Now she’s living out her sci-fi dreams.


It is not often that one gets the chance to reshape a famous story from his or her youth. Abbie Cornish was only 5 years old and growing up on her family’s 170-acre Australian farm when the original RoboCop came out in 1987. But one of her three brothers watched the film repeatedly, so she happily experienced the violent, futuristic cop saga over and over again. Thus when Cornish, who has appeared in films as diverse as Stop-Loss, Sucker Punch and Seven Psychopaths, was offered the chance to help reinterpret this sci-fi gem for a new generation, she immediately jumped aboard.

This month’s RoboCop envisions a future Detroit police force convinced by multinational conglomerate and military contractor OmniCorp to bring in a cyborg cop programmed to fight crime mercilessly and to help generate massive profits in future sales of such models to other police departments nationwide. The catch here is that the inaugural model is one of Detroit’s finest: Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman), who is nearly killed in the line of duty and resurrected in a heavy metal shell. And the man inside the machine finds his ­conscience at odds with the devious corporate directives he has been given.

Cornish plays Clara Murphy, Alex’s wife, and expands upon a role that was originally seen only in Alex’s mind through flashbacks. “She’s very strong, very solid, very smart and just so loving and caring and just dedicated to her son and her husband,” says Cornish, who relished playing a wise, balanced character. “In The Girl I played a mother, but she wasn’t a woman yet. She was still coming of age and finding herself. She was angry and rebellious and unstable, so this was a totally different place to go to. I really loved it.”

The Aussie actor says that RoboCop reboot director José Padilha has maintained the action, intensity and combat scenes of the original and also the integrity of the story. “The original RoboCop was amazing and so great in its time, and it still holds up,” she says. “Looking back at it now, you see the humor in a different way. José has honored and respected that, but he’s also used technology in the digital age to really push RoboCop’s world. You get to see so much more.”

Outside of film, Cornish tackles music-making, photography, painting and yoga and seems to find the right projects for herself at the right times. “I want to challenge myself and push myself and explore myself as an actor and as an artist in whatever form that takes. I don’t think I’d ever be happy just sitting in a niche.”