Peter Weller clearly likes being a part of legendary entertainment franchises.
Back on movie screens this summer in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” the actor-director voices the title hero in Tuesday’s (Jan. 29) home-video premiere of the animated “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2.” He also updates a classic episode of the original “Hawaii Five-0” by playing the double-amputee nemesis in a remake of 1973’s “Hookman” for the current CBS show on Feb. 4. He also directed the episode.
And then, there is arguably Weller’s most famous role of all: RoboCop, the futuristic incarnation of Alex Murphy, a police officer wounded so badly by enemies that it takes making him a cyborg to keep him alive and active. Directed by Paul Verhoeven and released in 1987, “RoboCop” yielded two theatrical sequels and several television series, two of them animated.
The concept will get a fresh start with the new version Columbia Pictures and MGM plan to release next February. Joel Kinnaman (“The Killing”) will star, with Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson and another Batman — Michael Keaton — in support.
“I wish them well,” the friendly Weller tells Zap2it, “but they’re going to have to tow a heavy barge, man. I just watched the [original] movie on its 25th anniversary; we had two screenings … one in Dallas, where it was shot, and then at UCLA where [the film’s writers] Michael Miner and Ed Neumeier met.
“The cast and the crew and Verhoeven and everybody was there, and I watched the movie for the first time in seven or eight years without a critical eye. I thought, ‘This is one of the most brilliant movies I’ve ever seen.’ It’s prescient economically, in the privatization of politics, about race — I mean, they wrote that in 1981, for crying out loud!”
Weller adds, “I was not only amazed by the story, which Verhoeven definitely developed with his own mythic eye, but by how brilliant it was socially. It’s anthropological, that flick. In 200 years, to know what the 20th century’s eye on the future was like, you can watch that movie.”
The big reveal that removes RoboCop’s helmet and shows Weller’s face on an otherwise metalllic body “astounded” the actor when he first saw it, he maintains. “Rob Bottin and Stefan Dupuis designed that thing, and I sat there for 6 1/2 hours every day. I think it’s still the longest facial prosthetic process in the history of film, and it looks beautiful.”