Interview – Orci Talks Casting, Characters, Canon…and Kirks October 8, 2007by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: Interview,Orci/Kurtzman,Star Trek (2009 film) , trackback
In the first part of the TrekMovie.com exclusive interview with Star Trek co-writer and executive producer Roberto Orci we learned the scribe is a true Trek fan right down to his USS Enterprise phone and phaser collection. In the second part presented below Orci talks in more detail about the 2008 feature film including a status report on casting, more detail on their approach to canon, discussing what characters we may see in this film (and the next), how the film will appeal Trekkies and non Trekkies….oh and a little bit on that Shatner guy too.
TrekMovie.com: So I understand you recently completed the second big draft of the script. How different is this one from the original?
Roberto Orci: It is better. It is tighter. The villain is much better; in a first draft you tend to focus on your heroes. And I got to say that a lot of the things we read on TrekMovie.com contributed to the second rewrite.
TrekMovie.com: Really? There are thousands of comments…so which geniuses are the ones that made the difference in the script?
Roberto Orci: It is a collective thing, we take it all in. It is no joke that I read every post and so does [co-writer] Alex [Kurtzman].
TrekMovie.com: Will the possible Writers Guild strike effect the script?
Roberto Orci: Well it won’t effect anything because the strike would start when we are shooting so we will have the script finished by then. Any changes between now and then will be based on casting. Once we have the actors we will want to tailor it to their voices.
TrekMovie.com: There have been lots of casting rumors flying but so far there have only been 2 actors confirmed since Comic-Con: Zoë Saldana as Uhura and Anton Yelchin as Chekov. So are there other people you guys have signed up that we just haven’t heard of yet?
Roberto Orci: Nope that’s it. We have ideas and some of those rumored out there we are considering. We are not hiding anything as some people on your site are speculating. It is not uncommon and we are trying to come up with the best cast as possible and as long as we get them by shooting that is all we care about.
TrekMovie.com: So far you guys have only officially confirmed Kirk, Spock and now Uhura and Chekov. So can you confirm that McCoy is in as well as Scotty and Sulu?
Roberto Orci: I don’t know how you can have Uhura without Bones. So yes it is the original crew.
TrekMovie.com: J.J. [Abrams] has said the film is Spock-centric, but does the young Kirk have as big a role as Quinto’s Spock?
Roberto Orci: Totally! It is Lennon and McCartney. However Spock’s role is key in that we also have Nimoy. Having said that Kirk is Star Trek and he is as essential.
TrekMovie.com: What about Bones? The Kirk/Spock/McCoy ‘troika’ is also quintessential Trek, with McCoy being the counterpoint to Spock and Kirk in the middle.
Roberto Orci: That is a big part of what we are doing. You are correct that their interaction and how they face the impossible is what Trek is about and that is no different in our movie.
Trek’s classic troika part of new film
TrekMovie.com: Beyond the regulars – might we see other familiar faces, such as Kyle, Rand, Chapel, etc.?
Roberto Orci: Yes. I can’t say which. We are aware of all of them, but we are mindful that you can’t just try and stuff everything into a first movie just to stuff it in. Our hope is that this is ‘movie one’ of several and so anyone who gets omitted is immediately on the list for movie two. It is a factor of what can one movie tolerate and how well can a character be serviced and if they can’t be serviced correctly we would rather do it well later than do it poorly now.
TrekMovie.com: One of the reported characters is a ‘Federation Captain’ was that Pike or just another captain?
Roberto Orci: It was not necessarily Pike. One of the things we are trying to do in this movie is introduce a general audience to Starfleet. Captain Kirk was not the only captain in Starfleet.
TrekMovie.com: That brings up a bit of a pet peeve of mine with previous Trek films. So often other captains were set up as patsies – like Harriman in Generations or Styles from Search for Spock. Perhaps it was a way to make Kirk look good, but it made it look like he was almost a fluke and the rest were losers.
Roberto Orci: Ya I totally agree with you and we don’t have that. Being a captain in Starfleet should be a special position and we don’t feel that another captain has to be diminished in order to elevate Captain Kirk. If you are a captain in Starfleet you are a cool mother f—er.
Surely Starfleet can do better than this
TrekMovie.com: Speaking of captains I have one more casting question which is burning in the minds of many Trekkies…what about Shatner?
Roberto Orci: What J.J. said at Comic-Con [story] is still true. We are actively perusing looking for a way to make a part that is worthy of him and that is not pandering to either his role in Star Trek or to the fans.
TrekMovie.com: You guys have resisting labels for this film such as remake, reboot, etc….even prequel. Prequel has a pretty basic definition so what is wrong with calling it that?
Roberto Orci: But yet it is not entirely accurate. In some senses it is a prequel, but the word I would use, which is how Damon [Lindelof] describes it, is a re-invigoration or re-vitalization.
TrekMovie.com: So your point is since Nimoy’s Spock would at least start well after the TOS period, then it isn’t exactly a prequel.
Roberto Orci: Exactly, Nimoy’s Spock is very much in line with canon.
Last Spock sighting – TNG’s "Unification"
TrekMovie.com: You guys have said this will respect canon and ‘fill a gap’ but you are also trying to make a new movie for a new audience. Why aren’t you doing what they did with Batman Begins and just start over and avoid opening yourself up to the critiques on breaking with canon?
Roberto Orci: The reason we aren’t starting over is because the people involved, both fans and behind the scenes, have worked so hard to specify what is canon – then to simply ignore it would be unnecessary. There is so much about The Original Series that is worth continuing. It is not like Batman where you can ignore everything. That being said there are some things that have never been specified fully in canon that we take liberties with.
TrekMovie.com: I imagine that it is all a matter of degrees. Some fans are pretty flexible and others can be ‘strict constructionists’…just like different constitutional viewpoints.
Roberto Orci: It is funny you should say it that way. We very much treat these decisions like the Supreme Court and previous Supreme Court decisions are not turned over lightly. If they are overturned it is with the spirit of Star Trek as the guiding principle. Part of the reason we are purposely not saying if it is a reboot or not is that the solution we have for maintaining canon while liberating us is inherently part of what the story is and something we are reluctant to give away.
TrekMovie.com: Does this respect for canon cover both the script and the approach to the designs, such as the Enterprise.
Roberto Orci: So many of the design decisions are so faithful to what it was, much more faithful that you might imagine. We are trying to be so true to The Original Series in both look and the characterizations. And the Enterprise design is awesome.
TrekMovie.com: Trek fandom is not monolithic. Not every Trek fan likes The Original Series and some fans are feeling a little left out. So my question is – is this movie still for them?
Roberto Orci: Obviously my answer is yes. If you are a true Trek fan there is a common thread through each series when it is really working that is that about meeting the impossible and overcoming your differences to face it. You do not need to be an Original Series fan or even a sci-fi fan to enjoy this movie. It is not about selling an audience on sci-fi. It is like with Mission Impossible III. It is about getting them engaged in amazing characters that you love and being with them when they face the impossible – be it sci-fi or be it an ‘impossible mission’ or be it the shock of meeting sentient alien robots as in Transformers.
TrekMovie.com: You once told me that you will be putting in ‘continuity nuggets’ as little Easter eggs for the fans. Will some of those be related to the other series like TNG?
Roberto Orci: We got some TNG stuff in there for sure. I made sure of that. And there should be a little something from everything, but for me personally it is all about Next Generation and The Original Series because those are the shows that really set down the rules for Trek that the other shows picked up on. We are also trying to do a lot of what Enterprise was doing in terms of a prequel and some of the corners of Star Trek which were mainly defined by Deep Space Nine are covered to a certain degree.
TrekMovie.com: So are we talking about little references like the name of a ship, like the USS Archer in Star Trek Nemesis?
Roberto Orci: Our references are bigger than that and more pivotal to the story. But I love that little stuff too and we are doing that as well.
An ‘Enterprise Easter Egg’ in Star Trek Nemesis
TrekMovie.com: You have talked about making Star Trek relevant again, how are you going to do that?
Roberto Orci: I think when a lot of people think of Star Trek they think of it as some other kind of fantasy world. What we want people to see is that the future that Gene Roddenberry created, of Star Trek and Starfleet and Starfleet Academy and the Federation, are extension of what might happen…maybe tomorrow. One of the things we are trying to do with this movie is connect it back to today. How we got from here to how we got to Captain Kirk on the Enterprise.
TrekMovie.com: I imagine part of the plan to appeal to a general audience must factor in appealing beyond the usual male sci-fi demographic. Looking at your and Alex and J.J.’s work one can see that you guys like to have strong female characters. So can we expect women that do more than just answer the space phone?
Roberto Orci: [Laughs] Ya totally. In my totally unscientific observations Star Trek seems to attract more women than other sci-fi properties, nonetheless there is clearly room for growth. That is one of the main ingredients we are looking at is to connect every gender to Star Trek; particularly since Trek is so much about equality and women’s rights. It is one of those things have to be re-emphasize. All of our wives – mine, Alex’s, J.J.’s and Damon’s – were very helpful in making sure this script was accessible for women.
Kick ass women of Xena, Alias, M:I:III & Transformers
TrekMovie.com: There has really been a lot of secrecy related to this project. So my question is…why? And is there a plan to roll things out over the next year?
Roberto Orci: We do have a plan to reveal things in a timely manner that is not just waiting until the very end. But to get to why all the secrecy I always use the example of Terminator 2. I, and everyone really, went into that knowing that Schwarzenegger was a good terminator. So in that scene in the hallway where poor little John Connor is surrounded by terminators – imagine that scene if you didn’t know that Arnold was good – you would have thought that kid was dead meat and the reveal that Schwarzenegger was good would have been mind blowing. So one of the reasons for the secrecy is that we are into wanting the audience to feel the full impact of the story twists. This is something we have dealt with before, like on Transformers, the fans want to know when their surprise party is. The secrecy is not about us being coy or embarrassed but for us wanting to maximize those moments of surprise for the audience. We think it is not withholding from the fans but trying to give them that surprise party.
TrekMovie.com: Are you guys thinking about sequels yet.
Roberto Orci: Our objective is to make a good movie…period. Our only goal and mandate is to make a good Star Trek movie, but counting on the fact that if it is good then sequels will take care of themselves. We are not going to save anything for later. Our hope that this earns us the stewardship of future movies but we are not arrogant enough to count on that. All that being said, if it was my choice, I would do Star Trek for the rest of my life.
On behalf of the TrekMovie.com community I want to thank Bob for all his fan outreach. I really think all the post Comic-Con communications have made a difference. – Anthony Pascale