Peter Weller will, for most people, always be remembered for
his role as the half human, half robot super police officer
in the first two Robocop movies. Keri Allan chats to
him about the movies as well as finding out what he is currently
Allan: Does it bother you that you are mainly remembered as
Robocop, and not for any of the other long list of films you
have been involved with?
I just roll with it. There was a time in the early nineties
where I got a bit sick of it, but I just roll with it.
Were you involved with recording any of the extras on the
Robocop DVD boxset? Did you provide a commentary or
No, I was shooting a movie when they did that. They wanted
me to come and do a thing, but I was shooting in South Africa,
so was totally unavailable for it.
How does it feel to see something that you did so long ago
become so popular again?
It's very strange. A lot of it's been made more cogent now
because of this whole idea of progress, stomping on the small
man, and you know, killing the guy in order to make a cop
that will protect people. But why protect people when you
have to kill a guy to do it?
it's a whole World Trade Organisation, you got to empathise
with the small businesses in the third world, small farms
and the like where technology globalisation is really stomping
on them. And
that's the theme in Robocop, well it's one of them
anyway. It's the corporate world and greed, while it's nullifying
the dignity of the common Joe.
When you first got the script did you have any idea what you
were letting yourself in for?
I knew I was making a good movie, but I didn't know it would
be a great success. It's all dependent on marketing.
So what were your reasons for coming back for a second movie,
but not for the third?
Well they offered me a price tag, and I have to say it didn't
quite have the third great act that Robocop 1 had,
but by the time I was into the second one I knew I was tired
of it, plus which David Cronenberg had asked me to do Naked
Lunch with him, so I was happy to do it, and was happy
to be gone.
How did you prepare for your role?
I had six months of movement with a guy named Moni Yochin
and that was rigorous, and then we had to do a lot of work
on the suit, and that was it! I just approached the role like
he was a guy who could compute mathematics, but could not
handle discussions about feelings and people.
was essentially the preparation - and
the voice (lowers voice). I lowered my voice. I had to sing
but I can't do that now - I have to practice it. The make-up
was tough. Before I could even start filming there was around
six and a half hours of prosthetic make-up to be applied,
and then an hour and half of putting on the suit. I had already
worked an eight hour day by the time we actually started shooting.
I had to go through that for 23
days. But what we had to do was have two days on, and then
two days off, because taking the make-up off, you'd end up
with these big blisters on your face, they'd just ruin your
most of the movie was shot in Dallas, Texas, where it was
a hundred and something degrees outside, and it was about
120 degrees Fahrenheit inside the suit so there were two guys
with industrial air conditioning tubes standing around me
all the time.
Did they make the suit to fit you then? I heard they changed
it for the second film?
Yes, it was made to fit me. They changed the suit (for 2),
it was a lot lighter, it wasn't as much fun, but it was a
lot lighter, it wasn't necessarily more mobile though.
So was it fun overall though?
Oh yeah, it was a great challenge. I was also training for
the New York Marathon at the same time, so I was running 8-10
miles in the morning. It was a discipline that I don't know
if I could crank that up again. I mean I could if I had to,
but I hope I don't have to.
Do you think it would be much different if it had been filmed
now, as to then?
Well that's something to say. I mean, because even stop motion
animation has like gone the way of computers and Phil Tippet
this genius guy, was the stop animation guy, he's Lucas' guy,
all of those great talents are like falling at the expense
of computer graphics. Working with Verhoeven was wild. He
is a very dynamic guy, he's a driven guy. He knows what he
wants and I learnt a lot from him.
Your also well known for starring in Naked Lunch.
Well I was contracted to Naked Lunch, but then I had
some time, and actually I did this film in Malaysia called
Fifty Fifty, it was a little move that came and went
but it was a fun movie. So, I had a debriefing period before
I went into Naked Lunch which was good, so by the time
I got into Naked Lunch, I'd left Robocop behind
me for a year or two.
You also moved into directing. What prompted that?
I've directed some short films, I've directed a couple of
episodes of Homicide, a film for Paramount, lots of
other stuff. Yeah I like it a lot, more than acting. I think
I always wanted to be the story teller. I just always wanted
to be the storyteller rather than the performer. I find more
satisfaction in it. I
just did this massive mini-series for Columbia Tristar called
Odyssey five, about the discovery pilots, and I love
doing it, that was good, it was great fun.
What are you up to at the moment?
Well at the moment I'm finishing a Masters Degree in Renaissance
Italian art history, in Florence, I do my thesis in two weeks.
Its crazy. I've been doing it in pieces, and now its the end
of it, but it all adds up to about a year and a half. Its
hard. Harder than making a movie. You get up, you write, you
go to classes, you write, you go to wherever, you write! The
good thing was for the last three months that I'm just finishing
I got to teach undergrads and that was really a hoot.
got interested in it because I go to Italy a lot, I took a
summer course for Masters credit with no intention of ever
going to university and finishing it, but there was a programme
where you could do almost everything in Florence, so I said
OK I'll do that, and I did! Its a killer, but amazing.
what's next when you have your Masters under your sleeve?
I'm going to go back to Venice where I spend every Christmas,
and then I'm gonna go back and finish this mini-series and
then I'm directing a movie for Paramount.
Good luck with that. Thanks for your time.
thanks to Alex at the MGM press office