On Tuesday last week, a middle-aged scholar lectured in a Royce Hall conference room on the role of Padua as the true cradle of the Italian Renaissance. Later that day, that same Ph.D. candidate stepped into a different world. He walked the red carpet on Hollywood Boulevard at the premiere of "Star Trek Into Darkness," which took home $70.6 million over the weekend in Hollywood's high-stakes box-office race.
The UCLA Ph.D. candidate in Italian Renaissance art history is none other than Peter Weller, or Starfleet Admiral Marcus in the latest "Star Trek" movie. But he's better known to movie-goers as RoboCop, hero in the 1987 action thriller. More recently, he's made appearances on the smaller screen in "24," "Dexter," "Fringe," and "House." Among his lesser-known credits: Weller did a History Channel documentary on Roman engineering in ancient times.
"My career was always full of risks one way or another, and that's the way I like it," Weller once remarked.
In a recent interview with Bilge Ebiri for the website, "Vulture," Weller reminisced about Tuesday when he presented his dissertation to an audience of scholars from the European history department at UCLA. It was, he rhapsodized, "one of the most beautiful days I ever had in my life."
His transition from one world to another was "a 'Star Trek' white-light experience," he said "It's like I've been lifted into a parallel world," he told Ebiri of his 40-minute lecture at Royce. "I do this thing, and it's fantastic, and the questions afterward are fantastic. I go out, on cloud nine, right to the 'Star Trek' premiere."
The scholar-actor hopes to complete his Ph.D. degree later this year.
To read more about his dual roles off- and on-screen, read this piece by Mary Daily for UCLA Magazine Online.