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Saldana Needed Some Convincing To Take On Uhura August 25, 2008

by Staff , Filed under: ST09 Cast , trackback

About a year ago broke the news that Zoe Saldana had been offered the role of Uhura in the new Star Trek. At the time it wasn’t clear if she would take the role, due to her obligations shooting another Sci-Fi blockbuster, Avatar. Now in a new interview Saldana reveals that the director of that film helped talk her into taking the Trek job. The actress also talks more more about Uhura and her possible future as well as JJ Abrams’ respect for the fans.


Trek respect from Titanic director and Abrams
Saldana tells Star Trek Magazine that when she was offered the role of Uhura she was already working on another big movie and she was "on the fence" and had a "lack of knowledge about Star Trek." But even though it might effect her schedule on his new Avatar film, James Cameron (Titanic) helped her realize what an opportunity it was, Saldana notes.

I was working on Avatar and even Jim [Cameron] was saying, "You’re kidding me? You’re not going to do Star Trek?! Give me J.J.’s number, and I’ll call him." He invited J.J. over to the set, and just to see these two directors having a sci fi conversation…. I think I would charge people.

Since taking the job, Saldana has got to know Trek much more. She tells STM that since filming has ended she has been watching even more Trek and has gained a new respect for the show and the original creators. She also notes how much much respect J.J. Abrams had when making the new Star Trek, telling STM:

[JJ] understand that he’s making a movie for the fans primarily.  We always felt that as well. We always treated everything with so much respect. "Ok, how is this done?" There were things that were very appointed that we should not be tampering with and I needed to know specific details. Anyone like me can go and see this movie and be blown away regardless, because they’re starting from the moment they walk in the theater. But for the fans, we’re picking up where others left off. W needed to know how to do things in a way that won’t change their history of Star Trek.

Uhura: communications for now – butt kicking next time
In the interview Saldana also talks about the challenge of taking on the role that Nichelle Nichols made famous, and she may have also dropped a hint about the movie itself:

As a woman, I always want to find roles that are empowering to women, not just soccer moms, or girlfriends or victims. She’s Uhura, man. She communicates! If it’s not for  her, nobody will understand the Romulan language! All these people in the ship need her. She’s so necessary, just like Scotty and every body. 

Of course if the new Star Trek works out, there will be more films with this new cast, and Saldana is already thinking ahead, telling Star Trek mag she will be ready to expand her scope:

…there’s so much space for her to grow and start branching out. I want to see her do some kicks or something. I’m very physical. Why should Captain Kirk always be the one to save the day? Uhura should tell Spock and Kirk, "You know what? I’ve got this one." 

Saldana in February (WireImage)

The latest issue of Star Trek Magazine has much more from Saldana, and has a lot of other good stuff in it so pick it on newsstands now.



1. erica rachel kathryn hernandez-garrett-janeway (lol) - August 25, 2008

damn id so love to see uhura go buffy the vampire slayer on someone…maybe some big brutish orion slavemaster or something lol…too bad they couldnt have done something where in the academy days uhura gets hit on by kirk and kicks him in the balls lol

2. Enc - August 25, 2008

– it’s not for her, nobody will understand the Romulan language-

oh please.

3. 4 8 15 16 23 42 - August 25, 2008

I like James Cameron’s movies, and knowing he embraced a spirit of comradeship instead of competition in regards to another Sci-Fi project makes me think more highly of him still.

4. Wes - August 25, 2008

The only convincing that she needed was the paycheck to be waived in front of her face! LOL!

5. Agent69 - August 25, 2008

James Effin’ Cameron talk her into doing Trek!!!!! And he met with J.J.
Now that is pretty impressive.
I still can’t decide what I’m more excited to see, Trek or Avatar.
Does my love for Trek or Sigourney Weaver + Cameron prevail????

6. The Last Maquis - August 25, 2008

Way to go James, and Very cool to hear From “The Zoe”…..and see of course.
What is Avatar Based on, Wasn’t he Making Battle Angel? is it the Same?
I’ve Never heard it referred to as That before. also if it’s based on some novel
I obviously don’t care. I’d rather see Battle Angel. Actually I’d rather Hollywood not tap the well dry and start looking to Anime for movie ideas because it’s sacred. However we are aware of Cameron’s work…….with the exception of Titanic,Geez. Yes there is Speedracer, but it’s being done by the Wachowski brothers and they’re lame, and so is speedracer. if I’ve offended any Avatar fans(I do Know what an Avatar is Though), again I don’t care.

7. off topic - August 25, 2008

Trekmovie has really gotta nail down the difference between “effect” and “affect”

8. Chris fawkes - August 25, 2008

She almost didn’t do it? All that time on my knees praying paid off.

9. Please - August 25, 2008

They really can’t talk about a movie for the fans after the Shatner fiasco. Not just about not putting him in the movie, but to keep the fans hanging for over a year and not deliver–that’s not how you treat your fans. They may make a good movie, or they may not, but to call this a movie for the fans is just not right.

10. tomcatjosh - August 25, 2008

Wow! It’s Either Good Or Bad She Took The Role. We’ll Find Out In May!

11. Iowagirl - August 25, 2008

I think I will need alot of convincing to read any further articles about Miss I had to be Convinced Saldana…

BTW, I like the cover of the new ST magazine; I didn’t need convincing to look at *that*…:)


12. MrAtoz - August 25, 2008

um…..she’s uh……very articulate isn’t she ?
(insert eye roll here…..)

13. Cobra Commander - August 25, 2008

Even if you’ve never watched an episode in your life, wouldn’t you still know that taking any role in Star Trek would make you famous forever?!?

Before I found this site, I’d never heard of Zoe, Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, or Urban.

Must be nice to be successful enough to have to “consider” a role in a major motion picture . . !

14. Jackson Roykirk - August 25, 2008

#9 There was a Shanter Fiasco?

Back on topic…Saldana’s fine as a second-tier character like Uhura. She was good in ‘The Terminal” (and her character was a trekkie!). We’ll see how she does in a larger role, such as in Avatar. Can she help carry a film? I don’t know, but she doesn’t have to help carry Star Trek.

15. Jim - August 25, 2008

Some people here are under the impression that JJ saying No 50 million times still meant yes. Those same people are also idiots.

16. Dennis Bailey - August 25, 2008

Look, Shatner did well in a few states but Obama is the nominee and it’s time for the Democrats to unite behind –

– Okay, my bad. I get the whole Shatner thing confused with the Hillary Clinton thing.

17. Sean - August 25, 2008

#13. Never heard of Pegg?

That speaks volumes about the insularity of Trekkies.

18. EM - August 25, 2008

Ms. Saldana will rock as the Enterprises Communications Officer! I’m positive that all the new cast of Star Trek will be fantastic! I have every confidence that this movie will be wonderful. I, too, would like to see “spoilers” in the form of photos, clips and plot points. But, I really don’t want to see “spoilers” in the form of photos, clips and plot points. I want the movie to be a surprise in every way. I hate that for the last 15 years or so that trailers give away every good and / or important part of every movie that comes out. I don’t bother going to as many movies as I used to because of this very reason. I know that the marketing / money machine will pander to the many who don’t want to wait for surprises.
Too bad, really.

19. Alec - August 25, 2008

‘There’s so much space for her to grow and start branching out. I want to see her do some kicks or something. I’m very physical. Why should Captain Kirk always be the one to save the day? Uhura should tell Spock and Kirk, “You know what? I’ve got this one’.

I do hope that was a joke; I fear it wasn’t. Let’s not forget who’s Captain and who’s Communications Officer. From these words, however, it seems we can infer that Abrams has remained true to Star Trek in, first, not making Uhura turn into Mrs Smith; second, having Kirk and Spock save the day. This is a recipe for success.

20. Some Dude on the Internet - August 25, 2008

Nichelle Nichols held a seance in which the ghost of Martin Luther King, Jr. appeared and begged Saldana to take the role. Then they made out. True story.

21. Denes House - August 25, 2008

I find it funny that Saldana equates “soccer mom” with “victim,” and indicating that a soccer mom is somehow not an empowered woman. Hollywood actresses are so insulated from anything approaching real life that it’s equal parts amusing and saddening.

Oh, well. All she has to do is act well in this movie. She doesn’t need to be a bright bulb offscreen.

22. Cervantes - August 25, 2008

Interesting that it turns out that James Cameron had to point her in the right direction….

How amazingly lucky for her to even be considered to be involved in a SECOND potentially huge Movie! Even if she herself ‘had a lack of knowledge’ about Trek, couldn’t she have asked a few people she knew at the time, who might’ve known a bit more about it to see what they thought? Thespians, eh?

From what I’ve come across so far, it seems that James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ will be an amazing spectacle involving technological developments that will push the envelope, effects-wise in cinema. It’s definately on my future must-see list too.

23. Dennis Bailey - August 25, 2008

#21:”I find it funny that Saldana equates ‘soccer mom’ with ‘victim'”

I find it funny that people don’t understand the context.

She’s talking about the kinds of roles that young women are most likely to be offered in adventure and suspense movies – young mothers, girlfriends, victims of the baddies – and contrasting that with being the characters who move the action forward.

That’s her professional career – acting in movies – and she views those roles in the context of the work she’s offered. It’s not a commentary on how people are living in Michigan.

Fortunately for her, she’s been able to do more of the latter kind of things in her film appearences than many young female actors.

She actually comes across as pretty smart and savvy.

24. Kayla Iacovino - August 25, 2008

I haven’t heard too much about Saldana, but reading some of what she has to say about the film and her character sounds great. I think she will make an awesome Uhura! She’s the kind of lady with class that also can kick ass when necessary.

25. JeFF - August 25, 2008

Again, I’m embarrassed and ashamed for Trek fans… that seem to take offense by pretty much anything anyone has to say about the new film.

She could have said, “My favorite color is blue,” and someone here would go into spasms about how because Uhura’s uniform is red, THAT should be her favorite color, and how she offends all that Star Trek stands for because she isn’t what someone expects her to be.

Saldana has proven herself to be a classy, fun, youthful woman of immense class and beauty. Get used to it people; I expect all of these younger actors to want to kick ass. Trek needs that kind of drive to survive, and frankly, it’s what my generation does. :D

26. Bart - August 25, 2008

Sounds like Uhura’s role might be expanded. Maybe take on some of Hoshi’s responsibility…actually a linguist rather than just someone that opens hailing frequencies.

27. cellojammer - August 25, 2008


No kidding. I don’t expect these actors to be as steeped in Trek lore as we geeks. The fact that they aren’t is a good thing in my book. I enjoyed her comments and look forward to seeing what EVERYBODY does to bring Trek into the 21st Century.

No worries here!

28. JeffreyNDallas - August 25, 2008

#25 – Yes Sir, that is it to the letter!

The reason that a smart, young actress does not know much about the original Trek is that it has become irrelevant to the younger generation….Just because we grew up with it and understand it does not mean that everyone who does not is “out of touch”…..The fact that she had to get input before taking on a role shows that she takes her career seriously and considers what she want’s to do and probably if she has the ability to take on that role successfully…I applaud her for this and am glad she did not just take it for the money….

29. EM - August 25, 2008

#23 – 27 inclusive : Right On!
It is nice to see voices of reason in the Trek Fan World.
I am greatly encouraged as much by your words as everyone involved in
the actual production of this movie.

30. OneBuckFilms - August 25, 2008

I actually agree with her on Uhura kicking a little butt.

She’s communications officer, but she’s also a trained Starfleet officer.

We saw Uhura in Trek III showing a lot of independent spirit beyond “Hailing Frequencies Open” with her little “This isn’t reality. This is Fantasy !!! Now GET IN THE CLOSET !!!” with Mr. Adventure.

Uhura must have some fight in her to get to be a Bridge Officer on a Starship.

31. Cobra Commander - August 25, 2008

Sean, you’re obviously intelligent and have an excellent vocabulary.

Just because I’m new to Simon Pegg does not mean I am “insular.” (Although I did, literally, grow up on an island . . . )

I’ve never seen one second of Pegg’s work. I’m sorry if that offends you.
It appears MI:III is the movie from which most people *might* know him, but I never saw MI:III because I can’t stand Tom Cruise.

I just asked an office full of people if they know who Simon Pegg is.
The response: “Simon who???” (Hopefully, after ST opens next year, these same people will respond: “Oh yeah, Scotty!”

32. Closettrekker - August 25, 2008

#9—You may speak for some fans, but by no means are we all bitter about the so-called “Shatner fiasco”. Personally, as much as I enjoyed a young Bill Shatner’s work as JTK—-I would never have expected him to be in the film in the first place. And if he were, I would be much more apprehensive about the story. I certainly was not “left hanging”…

#23—Well said, Dennis.

33. DaveO - August 25, 2008

#6 –

“Avatar” is written by James Cameron. It is an original story for the screen.


34. DaveO - August 25, 2008

So, I’d like to assure you that no “Avatar” fans have been insulted, because not one of them has seen the movie yet.


35. Tom - August 25, 2008

The movie is for the fans but not too fanboyish.

36. British Naval Dude - August 25, 2008

le belle femme sans des regrets…


37. British Naval Dude - August 25, 2008

Je pleure .
Meme les idiots connaissent le male de la femme.
Qui ne voudrait pas etre Uhuru? Le idiots? Le pew de Pepe? Moi?
Je peux porter une petite robe rouge tres bien.


38. Harry Ballz - August 25, 2008

An unknown actress has to be talked into doing a film role??


The arrogance and conceit from some of these wannabees borders on outrageous!

39. Thomas - August 25, 2008

I have no doubt that Uhura will be a much more dynamic character in this movie, and there’s plenty of examples in Trek of Uhura holding her own, but she’s always been a lover first and a fighter second.

40. British Naval Dude - August 25, 2008

Back in ’93 I turned down the role o’ Hamlet in an East Anglian company production… too small a role really.

Years later, unable ta’ get even a moggie-food commercial, I accepted tha’ role o’ Yorick’s skull… and I thought thar’s so much space for tha’ skull ta’ grow and start branching oot. I want to see it do some kicks or something. Why should Horatio and Hamlet always be tha’ ones ta’ save tha’ day? Skull should tell them, “Ye’ know what? I’ve got this one.”


41. Mike 1701 - August 25, 2008

I’m a fan and I’m ecstatic Shatner is not in the film. I am so tired seeing actors get most of the credit for films or TV success when it’s really the writers, producers and directors who do most of the work and make the art truly shine. Yes, I am happy Zoe is in the film, but had she declined the role, and another actor was selected, the film would still work–assuming it does already.

42. Cobra Commander - August 25, 2008


“An unknown actress has to be talked into doing a film role??
The arrogance and conceit from some of these wannabees borders on outrageous!”

Precisely! What’s up with that????

43. (The) TOS Purist aka The Purolator - August 25, 2008

[JJ] understands that he’s making a movie for the fans primarily.

Wha….I thought that they WEREN’T making this “for the fans!” At least that’s what JJ Abrams has been saying in the 1283 interviews he’s done, not to mention the other stars. Up to this point it’s been pretty clear that what the fans want has not been a major consideration; they’ve been much more concerned with “bringing in the new fans.”

44. Please - August 25, 2008

32–I realize some people are not bitter about the Shatner debacle. The same people that were arguing against him in the first place. But the fact is, it was handled very poorly and the Shatner fans were treated very badly. To claim Abrams is making a movie for the fans is ridiculous in light of that. It’s an insult to see that claim. Just promote your movie as you see fit, but don’t make a claim like that when it’s not backed up.

45. Anthony Pascale - August 25, 2008

please stop trying to derail threads into another pointless ‘shatner in the movie’ debate.

46. richpit - August 25, 2008

“Nichelle Nichols held a seance in which the ghost of Martin Luther King, Jr. appeared and begged Saldana to take the role. Then they made out. True story.”

LOL!! That’s hilarious!!

47. Joe Schmoe - August 25, 2008

For some strange reason I’m picturing her version of Uhura dancing out in the middle of the desert with palm leaves, with guys crawling up the dune asking, “Is she naked?”

48. Alex Rosenzweig - August 25, 2008

#43 – “I thought that they WEREN’T making this “for the fans!” At least that’s what JJ Abrams has been saying in the 1283 interviews he’s done, not to mention the other stars.”

I dunno about that. My sense had been that what Mr. Abrams and the others have been saying is that the film isn’t being made *only* for the existing fans, but is designed to bring in new fans *as well*.

For myself, I very much appreciate was Ms. Saldana has to say, and I’m excited to see her as Uhura. My favorite Trek-related line from the above quotes: “Anyone like me can go and see this movie and be blown away regardless, because they’re starting from the moment they walk in the theater. But for the fans, we’re picking up where others left off. W needed to know how to do things in a way that won’t change their history of Star Trek.”

But I also really liked the description of James Cameron’s comments. I would have loved to have been able to see him and Mr. Abrams chattering sci-fi. :)

49. 255 more to go - August 25, 2008

Uhura the receptionist wants to go from gettng coffee to kicking butt.
Now, that’s progress.
I’m not sure about all these “bit” players all of the sudden wanting big roles in the Star Trek universe.
As far as I’m concerned, Star Trek the original was about Kirk, Spock, McCoy & the Enterprise. Scotty came in next and the rest filled up the screen for the most part. I would rather keep it that way. There’s only so much time to divide between all the main characters.

50. cellojammer - August 25, 2008

Lots of folks are reading WAAAAYY too much into some sound bytes. Chill the F- out, people. It’s only a movie. These are only actors. To some it’s just one paying gig amongst many, and they have to be careful to choose the ones that will suit them the best, artistically as well as financially. Sure, WE would pay to have a walk-on extra/bit part, but these professionals aren’t as twisted as we are.

Cut ’em some slack, for cryin’ out loud!

51. Anthony Pascale - August 25, 2008

final warning for trolling

I am sorry that your agenda of getting shatner in the film wasn’t met, but twisting things around in every story and trolling everyone related to it has now official got old

52. Jovan - August 25, 2008

#25: I agree, it’s getting really old now. By now we all know what they are going for and we should just get over it. I don’t really care for the new uniform tops from what I’ve seen so far, but I’m still going to see the movie.

53. krikzil - August 25, 2008

I was pleased to hear that Cameron was working on a new movie!

54. Paul Newland - August 26, 2008

All the Starfleet officers should be as capable of kicking butt, although security officers and crew should obviously have the edge.

“As a woman, I always want to find roles that are empowering to women, not just soccer moms, or girlfriends or victims.”

Ironically if you look at the cast list most of the women are ‘starfleet’ moms, plus a sexy slave girl, and possibly one of Kirk’s Starfleet girlfriends. All the senior officers are men. For a 21st century reboot of a sci fi show that’s appalling.

The absence of two out of the three TOS recurring female characters does not suggest that the writers have adopted the Battlestar Galactica reboot’s attitude to women in the ‘military’ and made them truly equal. I hope Saldana fights to get Uhura some scenes out of her chair. Good luck to her.


55. Iowagirl - August 26, 2008

Anthony, I was referring to Saldana (main topic of this article) and the new ST magazine (second topic of this article), as well as answering another post; also relating to the above article, so your comment is rather astonishing for me. In the past months I’ve only commented on Shatner in related threads.

Anyway, I respect your site far too much to not behave according to your warning. The comment on the most recent Shatner thread will be my last one. Thanks.

56. Anthony Thompson - August 26, 2008


As a Minnesotan I can tell you that Iowans need to be cut a lot of slack. : )

57. Scifigirl - August 26, 2008

#13 – Cobra

“Must be nice to be successful enough to have to “consider” a role in a major motion picture . . !”

I certainly hope you’re not putting Karl Urban and Simon Pegg in that bag because they totally did not need any “convincing” to get onboard…

58. Shatner_Fan_2000 - August 26, 2008

#s 51, 55, & 56 …

Yeah, let’s cut Iowagirl some slack. Closettrekker is enough to drive anyone fruity as a nutcake!

Iowagirl, it has always been my understanding that there is unlimited Shat-Talk allowed in Shat threads. So within those, you can go Shat wild! :-)

59. Closettrekker - August 26, 2008

#58—-Hey! What’s up with that? :)

60. British Naval Dude - August 26, 2008

Je crois que Closettrekker est un homme marie.
Vous proposez qu’il veuille voir Iowagirl dans une robe rouge… une robe rouge tres courte? Va-va-voom…

: )

61. Paul - August 26, 2008

No its holier than thou rampant fanboyism that would scare people off this movie and playing roles in it.
Its fanboy attitudes that scare actors.

62. Harry Ballz - August 26, 2008

Paul, that’s just nonsense! I didn’t even mention Star Trek in my original criticism, just the fact that a virtually unknown actress is already showing “attitude”, before becoming famous enough to warrant it.

Any casting director who picks up even a hint of “why should I”, from a complete unknown auditioning for a FEATURE FILM ROLE, has every right to look the guilty party straight in the eye and yell, “NEXT!”

The “Saldanas” of the world are a dime-a-dozen in Hollywood!

63. TrekNerd - August 26, 2008

Does Zoe Saldana sing in the new movie like Nichelle Nichols did in TOS and STV:TFF?

64. Alex Rosenzweig - August 27, 2008

62 – To be fair, Harry, Saldana may not yet be a top-level A-lister, but she’s hardly a complete unknown. When her name came up for Uhura, I was already familiar with her work in a number of films, including “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Terminal”. I think there’s an argument to be made that she may be among that group considered “up-and comers”, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all to think a bit before committing to something like Star Trek, especially if she wasn’t familiar with it.

Personally, I’m delighted that she accepted the role, because I’ve enjoyed her other work. (I think it’s a delightfully amusing coincidence that her character in “The Terminal” was a Star Trek fan!) And I really appreciate the fact that Cameron encouraged her to accept the offer, which just tells us something about him, as both a director and a fan.

65. Harry Ballz - August 27, 2008

Alex, I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my post. You have put forward a logical and reasoned reply. Thanks!

66. Alex Rosenzweig - August 27, 2008

[tips chapeau] You’re welcome. I think it’s much more fun to just discuss than it is to scream at each other, anyway. :)

67. Harry Ballz - August 28, 2008

C’mon Alex, you know that in cyberspace…….no one can hear you scream!

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