In fact – spoilers ahead -- more than a few fans initially thought that his then-unrevealed character in Star Trek Into Darkness might somehow be related to Paxton. Of course, Weller was actually playing Admiral Alexander Marcus, the Starfleet leader who, among other things, was the father of Carol Marcus (Alice Eve), the mentor of Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood), the man whose actions drove Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) to seek vengeance, and the zealot who was willing to let the Enterprise and her crew perish in order to both more fully militarize Starfleet and instigate a war with the Klingons. StarTrek.com caught up with the effusive actor-director Weller for a candid, extensive and spoiler-filled interview. Below is part two of our conversation.
How did you enjoy working with Chris Pine, Alice Eve and Benedict Cumberbatch on Star Trek Into Darkness?
WELLER: Alice, I absolutely love. Chris is divine. I only had the one scene with Benedict, but I loved working with him. They’re all just supremely intelligent and talented. You usually go on a set and all people talk about is their careers and what they’re doing next and Los Angeles. I talked about Italy incessantly with Zach Quinto. Chris had just gotten back from Delphi, from visiting the ruins of the oracle. Anton was 22 or 23, and he’s like a savant about 19th century philosophy. It’s a credit to J.J. He hires people of intelligence and passion, who are fun and have verve and enthusiasm. I just had the best time. There wasn’t a rotten apple in the bunch and I just enjoyed the whole thing.
A lot of people loved you in Star Trek Into Darkness, but many felt there wasn’t enough of the admiral’s motivations. So, a few questions: To your thinking, what were his motivations? Did you feel we saw enough of his motivations? Was anything shot but cut that might have fleshed things out more?
WELLER: There were no other scenes shot that would have filled in the blanks. To me, for the amount of screen time J.J. had, I take it as a compliment that people wanted more to flesh it out, because it speak to me executing that part as written. But what Marcus wants… Marcus is no different than Curtis LeMay, with a conscience. I don’t know if people remember who Curtis LeMay, but he hid 18 nuclear missiles from President John F. Kennedy. He was the guy who wanted to pull the trigger on the Cuban Missile Crisis. If you see Fog of War, it was all about “First strike! First strike!” That’s a warmonger. So these warmongers exist, man, and LeMay personifies that. They were real. They ARE real. The thing that Marcus doesn’t have is faith in the pacifistic attitude of this particular terrestrial organization because the Klingons are aggressive. A war is coming. They’re encroaching. And what Marcus is thinking is he wants to get a jump on them, just like Curtis LeMay. Anybody who is critical of this, just watch the Errol Morris documentary Fog of War. It’s from 2003, and listen to (Robert McNamara) talk about LeMay.
And he’s undone by his love for his daughter…
WELLER: That’s right. He is undone by his love for his daughter, man. That’s right. I mean, for 25 minutes of screen time, I think it’s pretty well rounded-out.
WELLER: I can’t remember it. I can’t remember it. I just remember enjoying the hell out of LeVar Burton, who’s been my friend for so long. He directed the first part of it. I remember that I had a lot of fun as Paxton, but I can’t remember the script. And I remember that it was very quick because it was done on a television schedule.
Last question: What else are you working on?
What else? I spend a month in Italy, where I lived for many years. I’m finishing a Ph.D. I’ve to file that in October. I’ll certainly go back and teach (literature and fine art) at Syracuse University, my Masters alma mater. I’m now pitching two classes to UCLA’s theater and film department that I taught before at Syracuse University. I’ve got another episode of Hawaii Five-0 to direct. I’m working on a small film called The Meaning of Nowhere. It’s a thriller about a very bad woman who, by mistake, finds an opportunity to lead a very different life. But it’s by mistake, not desire. And I’ve got my wife and our young son. I couldn’t be happier.
Click HERE to read part one of our exclusive StarTrek.com interview with Peter Weller.