Best known as the title character in “RoboCop,” the actor and director fills both jobs in Monday’s (Feb. 4) new episode of the CBS series reboot, an update of the original show’s 1973 story “Hookman.” Weller now plays the double amputee out to exact revenge for the loss of his hands … with McGarrett’s (Alex O’Loughlin) late father among those he holds responsible, making McGarrett a target.
“I’m in [this summer’s movie] ‘Star Trek Into Darkness,’” Weller tells Zap2it of landing the ‘Five-0″ gig, “and two of the writers on that are Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, whose company fronts the remake of ‘Hawaii Five-0.’ So, I was talking to Orci on the set and said, ‘I direct television now, and I love it. And “Hawaii Five-O” was my favorite show growing up. It was the only show I watched continuously,
“And he said, ‘Well, gosh, you ought to direct one of ours.’ And I said, ‘I’d love to.’ I started watching the show, and I’m a big fan of the cast. And Orci and [‘Five-0’ showrunner] Peter Lenkov and I sat down, and then the thing went away. Next thing you know, I’m on the set of ‘Sons of Anarchy,’ [directing] and looking forward to a vacation, and I get a call from Orci: ‘Hey, Lenkov and I are sitting here and we have this great idea.'”
The idea was the “Hookman” remake, which Weller reports the producers “wanted to do almost shot-for-shot. They said, ‘It would be Hawaii then and Hawaii now, and you could direct yourself, because you did that on “Longmire.”‘ And I said, ‘Yeah! I’m in!.’ It was as simple as that. They pulled out one of the great episodes of the original ‘Hawaii Five-O’ and wanted to replicate it.”
Of course, 40 years later, Weller has technical advantages that original “Hookman” director Allen Reisner didn’t.
“The filmmaking techniques give you much wider latitude now,” Weller agrees, “but we essentially did the story over shot-for-shot. And it was a bit of a dream come true. ‘Hawaii Five-0’ was an addendum to my life … like [musician] Miles Davis, almost. When somebody says, ‘Re-do a seminal episode of that show,’ it’s a cornerstone of your life. It’s like coming home again.”
The original Hookman was played by Jay J. Armes, a private investigator and actual double amputee. In the new version, Weller shares the role with Jason Koger, whose prosthetic hands are seen in close-ups.
“He’s a race-car driver and a farmer and a kind guy from Kentucky,” Weller explains. “He was in a four-wheeler and went across a live wire on his farm, and they essentially had to remove his arms to save his life. I got to study him and mime the use of his synthetic hands, and also use him with me. A lot of times, his hands are in the same shot with me. He’s now a friend for life because of this.”
Weller has done considerable directing in recent years. He also handled one of the final episodes of “House,” in which he guest-starred as well, and he adds, “I’m one of the go-to guys on ‘Sons of Anarchy,’ which I love doing. And ‘Longmire’ is the best, man. I’m very fortunate with the shows I direct, since they’re all remarkable. And ‘Hawaii Five-0’ is just a stunner.”
Though it would be hard for him to return to Showttme’s “Dexter” as an actor, given the fate met by his corrupt-cop character Stan Liddy in Season 5, Weller would be happy to revisit that series behind the scenes.
He says some of its producer-writers “are pushing for me to direct there, and I’d love to do it. Michael C. Hall is a genius, that cast is extraordinary, and I’ve directed with that camera crew before. It all has to do with who you know.”