Actor and director Peter Weller got his start on stage with noteworthy performances in David Rabe's “Streamers” and David Mamet's “The Woods” before venturing to features in 1979. He scored his first lead role with the film “Of Unknown Origin” (1983) and picked up a Best Actor Award at the 1983 Paris Film Festival for his performance in the film. The brooding, blue eyed thespian is perhaps best known to moviegoers for portraying Buckaroo Banzai in “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai” (1984) and Officer Alex J. Murphy/RoboCop in the successful science fiction flick “RoboCop” (1987), in which he received a Saturn nomination for his performance. He also starred in the sequel “RoboCop 2” (1990). Talking about what attracted him to the movie “RoboCop,” the actor said, “I read the script and knew right away that it was my kind of film, its themes are massive. ‘RoboCop’ is medieval, man. You look at it and you see a kind of corporate, mercantile society crushing everything in its wake, just like in the Renaissance. Free trade and the massive flow of information has liberated society, but at the same time you see an immense amount of greed, yuppies running all saying I want that for me, man. ‘RoboCop’ is an allegory about imperialisation, technology and humanity. This society takes the life of this guy and also robs him of his innocence.”
Weller's other movie credits include “Shakedown” (1988), “Naked Lunch” (1991, nabbed a Genie nomination), “The New Age” (1994), “Screamers” (1995), “Shadow Hours” (2000), “Ivansxtc” (2000, earned an Independent Spirit nomination), “Undiscovered” (2005) and “Prey” (2007). His varied TV roles include Fox's short lived “Odyssey 5” (2002-2003), “Star Trek: Enterprise” (2 episodes, 2005) and “24” (11 episodes, 2006). Behind the camera as a director, Weller jointly nabbed an Academy Award nomination for his short “Partners” (1993). He has helmed episodes of “Homicide: Life on the Street” (2 episodes, 1995-1996), “Odyssey 5” (3 episodes, 2002-2003), “Monk” (1 episode, 2006) and “Las Vegas” (1 episode, 2007) and the TV film “Gold Coast” (1997).
Childhood and Family:
The youngest son of Frederick Bradford Weller, a career army helicopter pilot, lawyer and federal judge, and Dorothy Jean, a homemaker, Peter Frederick Weller was born on June 24, 1947, in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Because of his father's job, Pete, as his family and close friends often called him, traveled extensively during his childhood and lived several years in Germany before the family eventually relocated to San Antonio, Texas. After graduating from San Antonio's Alamo Heights High School in 1965, he enrolled at the University of North Texas with the hope of playing trumpet in one of the campus jazz bands. He received a B.A. in theater in 1969. Pete left Texas to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and began his acting career after completing his training in 1971.
In 2004, Pete completed a Master's degree in Roman and renaissance art at Syracuse University. He occasionally teaches a literature and fine arts class at the university. He went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Italian renaissance art history at UCLA.
Pete married his wife Shari Stowe on June 24, 2006.
Within a few weeks of graduating from AADA, Peter Weller made his professional stage debut in Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival production of David Rabe's “Sticks and Bones” (1971), where he played David, a role he reprised in the London premiere. He later joined the illustrious Actor's Studio, where he was under the guidance of Elia Kazan and Lee Strasberg and worked extensively on and off Broadway. He performed in William Inge's “Summer Brave,” Thomas Babe's “Rebel Women,” “Full Circle,” directed by Otto Preminger, Tennessee Williams' “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (with Christine Lahti), “A Streetcar Named Desire” (opposite Shirley Knight), James Purdy's “Daddy Wolf” and Lanford Wilson's rework of “Serenading Louie” (opposite Diane Wiest). Weller first gained critical praise with his portrayal of Billie Wilson in David Rabe's “Streamers,” which was directed by Mike Nichols at the Lincoln Center. He earned further notice with his performances as Cliff in the original production of William Mastrosimones' “The Woolgatherer” at the Circle Repertor and Nick in the first American production of David Mamet's “The Woods.”
Weller branched to the small screen in 1973 when he landed the important role of Lieutenant Fellows on the ABC movie “The Man Without a Country,” a remake of the 1925 film of the same name. He followed it up with supporting roles in the TV film “The Silence” (1975) and the TV miniseries “Mourning Becomes Electra” (1978). He also appeared in a guest spot in “Lou Grant.” By the late 1970s, he had made his feature film acting debut in “Butch and Sundance: The Early Years” (1979), a western directed by Richard Lester that starred William Katt and Tom Berenger.
Weller was next cast as Steven Routledge in Sidney Lumet's “Just Tell Me What You Want” (1980), an adaptation of Jay Presson Allen's 1969 novel of the same name, and portrayed Frank Henderson in “Shoot the Moon” (1982), a drama starring Albert Finney and Diane Keaton that was directed by Alan Parker. He then received top billing in the movie “Of Unknown Origin” (1983), a Canadian horror film directed by George P. Cosmatos. Although the film suffered rejection from critics, Weller was singled out for his good performance of Bart Hughes and was handed a Paris Film Festival for Best Actor. Also in 1983, he appeared in the TV films “Kentucky Woman” (starred Cheryl Ladd and Ned Beatty) and “Two Kinds of Love” (with Lindsay Wagner and Rick Schroder). In 1984, Weller starred as Buckaroo Banzai in the cult hit science fiction movie “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension,” opposite John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd and Lewis Smith, and played an alcoholic/drug addict named Sam in the Michael Apted drama “Firstborn,” alongside Teri Garr.
Following a brief screen absence in 1985, Weller took on the starring role of Baston Morris in the drama “A Killing Affair” (1986), which was based on the novel “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday” by Robert Houston, costarred with Lesley Ann Warren in the made for TV thriller “Apology” (HBO, 1986) and starred as Juan Pablo Castel in the big screen adaptation of Argentine novelist Ernesto Sabato's “The Tunnel” (1987), opposite Jane Seymour as Maria Iribarne. Weller's big success arrived in 1987 when he won the starring character on the Paul Verhoeven blockbuster science fiction film “RoboCop.” The film received positive reviews from critics and is regarded as one of the best film of 1987. It was also a commercial success and grossed over $53 million at the domestic market against the film’s budget of $13 million. Weller was nominated for a 1988 Saturn for Best Actor for his performance.
After his success with “RoboCop,” Weller starred in the action film “Shakedown” (1988, with Sam Elliott), the science fiction movie “Leviathan” (1989, as a geologist) and Abel Ferrara's thriller “Cat Chaser” (1989, opposite Kelly McGillis) before he recreated his role on the sequel “RoboCop 2” (1990), this time helmed by Irvin Kershner. Unlike the first, the film earned mixed reviews from critics and fans. It grossed nearly $46 million in the United States, well above its budget of $14 million. In 1991, after a lead role in the independent film “Road to Ruin” (1991, directed by Charlotte Brandstrom), Weller offered a memorable performance as Bill Lee in David Cronenberg's “Naked Lunch” (1991), based on the novel of the same name by William S. Burroughs. The performance earned him a Genie nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. Due to his work schedule on the film, Weller had to turn down the role of RoboCop in “RoboCop 3” (1993).
The following years found Weller playing roles in the films or TV movies “Fifty/Fifty” (1992), “Sunset Grill” (1993), “The Substitute Wife” (1994), “The New Age” (1994), “Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee” (1994), “Present Tense, Past Perfect” (1995), “Beyond the Clouds” (1995), “Screamers” (1995), “Mighty Aphrodite” (1995) and “Decoy” (1995). In 1993, the actor made his directorial debut with “Partners” (1993), which was broadcasted on Showtime as part of the series “Directed By.” The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Film, Live Action, an honor he shared with Jana Sue Memel. Weller also wrote the script and acted in the film. He then directed episodes of “Homicide: Life on the Street,” “Hate Crimes” (1995) and “White Lies” (1996).
In 1997, Weller directed and served as the executive producer of the TV film adaptation of Elmore Leonard's “Gold Coast” (Showtime), which starred David Caruso and Marg Helgenberger. He also directed the pilot episode of Caruso's CBS series “Michael Hayes” and returned to acting with roles in the TV films “End of Summer” (1997, as Theo Remmington) and “The Sands of Time” (1998, as John Shannon). He then appeared in the movies “Top of the World” (1998) and “Diplomatic Siege” (1999).
Entering the new millennium, Weller appeared in the films “Shadow Hours” (opposite Balthazar Getty), “Falling Through,” “Contaminated Man,” the USA Network movie “Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula” (all 2000) and the direct to video thriller “Styx” (2001). For his portrayal of Don West in “Ivansxtc” (also 2000), he was nominated for a 2003 Independent Spirit in the category of Best Supporting Male. In 2002, Weller made his debut as a series regular on the Showtime short lives science fiction series “Odyssey 5,” in which he portrayed the shuttle captain Chuck Taggart. He also directed the show's episodes “The Choices We Make,” “Dark at the End of the Tunnel” (both 2002) and “Fossil” (2003). Weller next played Driscoll in the film “The Order” and appeared as Gerard in an episode of “The Handler” called “Body of Evidence” (both 2003). Two years later, he portrayed John Frederick Paxton in the “Star Trek: Enterprise” episodes “Demons” and “Terra Prime,” costarred as Captain Paul Gallico in a made for TV remake of “The Poseidon Adventure” with the same name, and was cast as a record producer in “Undiscovered.” Still in 2005, he acted in the movies “The Hard Easy” and “Man of God.”
In 2006, Weller joined the cast of Fox's popular drama “24” in the recurring role of terrorist collaborator Christopher Henderson. He appeared in 11 episodes during season five. The same year, he also acted in and directed the episode “Mr. Monk and the Actor” for the “Monk” series and starred as architect Frank Lloyd Wright in “Frank's Home,” a play by Richard Nelson. The next year, Weller portrayed Tom Newman in the thriller “Prey,” opposite Bridget Moynahan, and helmed an episode of “Las Vegas” called “A Cannon Carol.”
Recently, in 2010, Weller hosted “God of War: Unearthing the Legend Franchise Documentary,” and guest starred as Alistair Peck in an episode of the science fiction drama “Fringe” called “ White Tulip.” He has completed filming “Once Fallen” (2010), where he will play Eddie.
Paris Film Festival: Best Actor, “Of Unknown Origin,” 1983