(written from a Production point of view)
Peter Frederick Weller (born 24 June 1947; age 68) is the veteran actor who played Terra Prime leader John Frederick Paxton in the Star Trek: Enterprise episodes "Demons" and "Terra Prime". He later played Admiral Alexander Marcus in 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness.
He is perhaps best known to science fiction genre fans for playing the title role in 1987's RoboCop and its 1990 sequel, RoboCop 2. He is also known for playing the title role in the cult 1984 science fiction film, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, and for starring in Manny Coto's 2002 cable TV series, Odyssey 5.
Weller was born in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, on 24 June 1947. Because his father was a helicopter pilot for the Army, Weller spent most of his childhood abroad. He and his family lived in Germany for several years before moving to Texas. In 1969, he graduated from North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre. The late Noble Willingham, who guest-starred on Star Trek: The Next Generation and appeared with Weller in Butch and Sundance: The Early Days, also attended this university.
Early stage and television work
In 1972, Weller made his Broadway debut in Joseph Papp's Tony Award-winning New York Shakespeare Festival production of David Rabe's Sticks and Bones. Weller was a standby for the role of David for this production, which also featured fellow Star Trek veteran Cliff DeYoung. Phillip Richard Allen and K Callan became standbys at during later performances.
Weller returned to the Broadway stage in 1973 as part of the ensemble and as an understudy in a production of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. That same year, Weller made his television debut in the movie The Man Without a Country, which was photographed by Star Trek V: The Final Frontier's director of photography, Andrew Laszlo. In November 1973, Weller acted with Star Trek cast member Leonard Nimoy in a Broadway production of Full Circle.
In 1975, Weller appeared on Broadway for a fourth time, playing a supporting role in Summer Brave. He also appeared in his second made-for-TV movie that same year, a drama for NBC called The Silence, which co-starred George Hearn and Craig Wasson. In 1976, Weller performed with John Glover and Tracey Walter in the off-Broadway play Rebel Women. The following year, he made his first episodic television appearance, guest starring in an Alexander Singer-directed of the CBS drama series, Lou Grant. This was his last TV guest appearance until 2003.
In 1978, Weller acted alongside Bruce Davison in a stage production of Eugene O'Neill's play, Mourning Becomes Electra. The play was filmed and later broadcast on PBS as a five-part mini-series.
Early film career (1979–1986)
Weller made his film debut in the 1979 western Butch and Sundance: The Early Days. He worked with many other Star Trek alumni on this film, including Peter Brocco, Jeff Corey, Christopher Lloyd, Vincent Schiavelli, John Schuck, and the aforementioned Noble Willingham. Weller followed this film with supporting roles in Sidney Lumet's 1980 romantic comedy Just Tell Me What You Want (which featured John Walter Davis, John Gabriel, and camera work by James A. Contner) and the 1982 drama Shoot the Moon (which co-starred Robert Costanzo and George Murdock). Weller was then cast in the lead for the 1983 horror film Of Unknown Origin, for which he received Best Actor honors from the Paris Film Festival.
Weller reunited with his Butch and Sundance co-stars (and fellow Trek performers) Christopher Lloyd and Vincent Schiavelli for the 1984 sci-fi/adventure film, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai. Weller played the title role in this film, a multi-talented adventurer who fights to save the world from a group of inter-dimensional aliens known as Red Lectroids. Lloyd and Schiavelli played two of the Red Lectroids and the cast also included Robert Ito as Banzai's mentor, Prof. Hakita, and Clancy Brown as Banzai's companion, Rawhide. Others who appeared in the film include Jonathan Banks, Raye Birk, Jessie Lawrence Ferguson, Kevin Sullivan, and the aforementioned John Walter Davis. Since the film's release, Buckaroo Banzai has achieved cult status and has even warranted in-joke references in various Star Trek productions.
Weller's next film was the 1984 drama Firstborn, in which he and Teri Garr portrayed lovers. In 1986, Weller appeared in two productions with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine guest star John Glover, whom Weller previously worked with on stage. First, Weller and Glover co-starred with Bill Smitrovich in the dramatic film A Killing Affair. This was followed by the HBO movie Apology, which also featured TNG guest star Nicholas Kepros.
RoboCop and subsequent projects (1987–2001)
Perhaps Weller's best-known role is that of Officer Alex Murphy aka "RoboCop" in the hit 1987 action film RoboCop. Weller's co-stars in this film included Kurtwood Smith, who played the gang leader who kills Murphy, and Miguel Ferrer, whose character reconstructs Murphy into the cyborg "RoboCop". The cast also included Ronny Cox as the jealous vice president of the organization funding the RoboCop program, Robert DoQui as Murphy's superior in the police force Ray Wise as Smith's character's right-had man and Gene Wolande as a prisoner. For his performance in RoboCop, Weller earned a Saturn Award nomination from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.
Weller returned to the role of RoboCop for the 1990 sequel, RoboCop 2. This feature again saw Weller working alongside John Glover and also had Robert DoQui reprising his role from the first film. The cast also included Bill Bolender, Roger Aaron Brown, Gabriel Damon, Stephen Lee, Tzi Ma, Jeff McCarthy, Mark Rolston, and Phil Rubenstein. The film's music was composed by Leonard Rosenman.
In between the RoboCop films, Weller starred in such films as Shakedown (with Jude Ciccolella), Leviathan (with Meg Foster), and Cat Chaser (which featured costumes designed by Michael Kaplan). Following the release of RoboCop 2, Weller was seen in the 1990 TV movie Rainbow Drive along with Tony Jay. Weller then acquired further recognition for starring as the William S. Burroughs-based "Bill Lee" in David Cronenberg's 1991 adaptation of Naked Lunch. For this film, the Canadian Genie Awards nominated Weller for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.
Weller earned an Academy Award nomination for directing the 1993 short film Partners, which he also co-wrote and appeared in along with Ed Begley, Jr. and Seymour Cassel. Weller also starred in the 1993 thriller Sunset Grill, acting alongside John Rhys-Davies. The following year, Weller appeared with Corbin Bernsen in the dramatic film The New Age, and in 1995, he co-starred with Julie Cobb and Bruce Davison in the short film Present Tense, Past Perfect.
Weller was part of the cast of Woody Allen's 1995 film Mighty Aphrodite, as were F. Murray Abraham and David Ogden Stiers. He also starred in the 1996 sci-fi/horror thriller Screamers, which featured featuring creature construction by Ken Niederbaumer and make-up by Roxy D'Alonzo. Weller later starred with Ben Cross in the made-for-TV movie Tower of the Firstborn (aka The Sands of Time), which, though made in 1998, was not released in the USA until 2007.
Weller's acting credits over between 1998 and 2001 consisted of B-grade features and independent films, including Top of the World (with Ed Lauter and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), Diplomatic Siege (with J. Patrick McCormack), Shadow Hours (with Michael Dorn and Brad Dourif), Contaminated Man (with makeup effects by Richard Redlefsen), and ivansxtc. Weller received a nomination from the Independent Spirit Awards for his performance in the latter film.
In addition to acting, Weller continued to expand his credits as a director. He directed two episodes of the drama series Homicide: Life on the Street, casting Terry O'Quinn in the first episode and working with series regular Michelle Forbes in the second. Weller also directed and executive produced the Showtime Network movie Gold Coast, for which he cast Jeff Kober in a supporting role.
Odyssey 5 and beyond
Weller was the star of the sci-fi television series Odyssey 5, created and executive produced by Manny Coto. Weller played Chuck Taggart, the commander of the space shuttle Odyssey who, along with four others, is sent back in time and given five years to prevent the destruction of Earth. Fourteen of the twenty episodes of the series aired on Showtime in 2002 before being canceled; the remaining six episodes were aired in 2004. Weller directed three of the episodes, including one with Rick Worthy.
In 2003, Weller was seen in Brian Helgeland's thriller, The Order. That same year, he appeared in a Lou Antonio-directed episode of the short-lived CBS series The Handler – his first episodic TV guest appearance in over twenty-five years.
By 2005, Odyssey 5 creator Manny Coto had become the showrunner of Star Trek: Enterprise for its fourth season. Coto initialy envisioned Weller in the role of Phillip Green as the primary antagonist of the Augment Crisis trilogy, but this did not come to pass; the character became an ancestor of Noonien Soong to accommodate Brent Spiner's wish to appear on the show. It was Coto who convinced Weller to appear on Enterprise, promising to let Weller direct two episodes of the fifth season if he did so. Enterprise was canceled one day after Weller signed on to appear on the show.wbm
After Enterprise ended, Coto became a writer and co-executive producer on the FOX TV series 24. Coto cast Weller in a role on this series, as well – that of former CTU agent turned traitor Christopher Henderson. Weller appeared in eleven episodes of the series in 2006, during which time other cast members included Jude Ciccolella, Roger R. Cross, Gregory Itzin, Glenn Morshower, and Ray Wise.
Weller's other acting credits around this time included supporting roles in the music-based drama feature Undiscovered and the TV movie version of The Poseidon Adventure, both released in 2005; the latter was directed by John Putch. In 2006, Weller made a brief appearance in an episode of Monk (which also featured Stanley Kamel) and directed a separate episode that same year which featured Sharon Lawrence. In 2007, Weller portrayed architect Frank Lloyd Wright in the off-Broadway play Frank's Home, which co-starred Harris Yulin.
In 2010, Weller returned to television with a guest appearance in the 15 April episode of the FOX series Fringe. This series was created by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci, who were all involved in 2009's Star Trek. After doing the episode, Abrams met with Weller, after which Weller's agent mentioned Abrams wanted him for a role in the Star Trek sequel.
For eight episodes in 2010, Weller played the recurring role of Stan Liddy on Dexter, where Manny Coto was an executive producer. Also in 2010 Weller guest starred in an episode of Psych, on which Corbin Bernsen is a series regular. In 2012, Weller guest-starred in an episode of Franklin & Bash with Gates McFadden as well as Geoffrey Blake, Charles Emmett, Tom Wright, and series regular Malcolm McDowell.
Weller has also continued to work as a director. Since 2011, he has directed multiple episodes of the FX drama series Sons of Anarchy, which stars Ron Perlman and William Lucking. Other actors he worked with on this series have include Billy Brown, Scott Lawrence and Benito Martinez. Weller also directed and guest-starred in a 2012 episode of the western series Longmire (working with Wade Williams) and a 2013 episode of CBS' Hawaii Five-0. On the latter, he again worked with Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci, who co-developed the series. Weller's episode of Hawaii Five-0 also featured Daniel Dae Kim (a regular on the series) and William Sadler.
Weller's recent film projects include the 2010 crime thriller Once Fallen, with Jason Leland Adams and Ronald F. Hoiseck. In addition, Weller was the voice of DC Comics' Bruce Wayne/Batman in the direct-to-video animated releases Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (2012) and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 (2013). Others who lent their voices to these films include Robin Atkin Downes, Michael McKean and Frank Welker. Weller's Star Trek Into Darkness co-star, Bruce Greenwood, also voiced Bruce Wayne/Batman in a direct-to-video animated movie, namely 2010's Batman: Under the Red Hood.