Buackaroo Banzai himself, Peter Weller, is starring as the freak of the week on tomorrow's Fringe, and took some time to talk with reporters on a conference call. So we talked Fringe, Odyssey 5 and of course the RoboCop reboot.
What challenges did you find in this role and this character?
First of all, that there are scenes that are four pages of explanation and dialogue, but really well written, they're not just expository. They're dramatic scenes to justify love and need and family. Those are challenges to make come alive. The thing is predicated on losing the person you love. So I come from the method — Uta Hagen — you gotta plug in your personal life into that stuff. And it's upsetting stuff, so you have to sort of imagine what it would be like if I lost my wife, [because] the guy lost his wife — well, fiancee, anyway. At 60 years old, you want to kinda sit by the sea, smoke a cigar and sit by the sea, not take a look at those possible horrors. So that's the biggest challenge, how to access the sorrow of losing the dearest person to you in the world.
You mentioned the time travel aspect of this episode, how does that compare to the series you used to be on called Odyssey 5?
It's very similar, that's what turned me on about Odyssey 5 too! That people are replaced back in time, except they have the knowledge of the future. They mess with mother nature and everything goes askew. Matter of fact when I first started to do Fringe, I called up Manny Coto, the creator of Odyssey 5, and he said, "oh wow this sounds like Isaac Asimov. And indeed the writers are Asimov fans. I think it's very close and parallel. Both of those shows, particularly [my episode] "White Tulip" and Odyssey 5, are using science fiction to leverage the audience into an inquiry about being humanly accountable, as far as relationships go with other human beings. Are you a person of peace, or are you a person of greed and aggression? These are great inquiries to me,and I appreciate you bringing up that analogy because it's the very thing that turned me on about "White Tulip."
We're all desperately awaiting the return of RoboCop, and we're all rooting for Darren Aronofsky's vision. Have you heard anything about the status of this film and what do you think about bringing back this wonderful character?
You know, I wish him well. He's a gifted director. I was happy to do it, and happy to leave it. It's like Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, they were happy to get together and happy to part because they went on their own way. I went off, I left RoboCop to do Naked Lunch and I was very grateful for everything that RoboCop brought me. Particularly a large following amongst young people. In regards to education and making some sort of contribution to education, young kids will listen to me because of that film. I think the movie will probably be good, but I just have to say the first RoboCop is hard to beat. It's just... you've got that director Verhoeven and you've got those writers Ed Neumeier and Mark Miner. The combination of action and myth and humanity and humor, all those things wrapped into one in a perfectly constructed script. I don't think they're going to do anything better but I certainly wish them well to do something as good.