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Abrams: We Had A Scene For Shatner [UPDATED]

Today the latest wrinkle in the never-ending ‘Shatner in Star Trek‘ saga has been revealed. In a new interview with AMC, Star Trek director JJ Abrams reveals that there was a ‘flashback’ scene written for Shatner, but it "didn’t feel right." Abrams also talked more about his approach to fan feedback.

 

Abrams on Shatner’s scene that never was

We actually had written a scene with him in it that was a flashback kind of thing, but the truth is, it didn’t quite feel right. The bigger thing was that he was very vocal that he didn’t want to do a cameo. We tried desperately to put him in the movie, but he was making it very clear that he wanted the movie to focus on him significantly, which, frankly, he deserves. The truth is, the story that we were telling required a certain adherence to the Trek canon and consistency of storytelling. It’s funny — a lot of the people who were proclaiming that he must be in this movie were the same people saying it must adhere to canon. Well, his character died on screen. Maybe a smarter group of filmmakers could have figured out how to resolve that.

UPDATE: Not a flashback?
In the comments section below, Star Trek co-writer Roberto Orci elaborated on the Shatner scene:

Alex [Kurtzman] and I did indeed come up with a sequence for Shatner that we wrote before the strike, although technically it wasn’t a flashback.

Orci also promised he would ‘post the sequence in question,’ but only after the movie comes out.

Abrams on fan feedback
Abrams also talked to AMC about how he factors in fan input on the Internet

With Star Trek, the audience point of view is very important to me. And you just have to think, "Well I hope I don’t suck." A lot of times people say that they want certain things and they really don’t — they say they want all the answers up front, but then they don’t. Ultimately you can’t write a story or come up with an outline or direct a scene only thinking, "I think this is what they’re going to want." Then there’s no point of view.

Goto AMC’s SciFi Scanner Blog for much more on Trek and Fringe.

 

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Rohirim36
September 8, 2008 12:57 pm

It’s about time that J.J. addressed that Shatner stuff more directly! First?

marina
September 8, 2008 1:00 pm

would be cool if shatner was in the movie.but im in either way

Tony Whitehead
September 8, 2008 1:00 pm

As much as I hate to say it, Mr. Shatner talked himself out of this movie. I would love to see him again, but he’s had a long and storied career in the Star Trek Universe. Let’s see what his successor has to bring to the part.

Steeevil
September 8, 2008 1:01 pm

Scotty thought Kirk was alive when Picard’s Enterprise rescued him from the Dyson Sphere. There’s your loophole JJ. Run with it.

Steeevil
September 8, 2008 1:01 pm

If Scotty thought Kirk was alive, then he might have been SOMEHOW. Sheesh.

Ensign Harris
September 8, 2008 1:02 pm

Nice to know that he wanted Shatner in his movie.

Norman
September 8, 2008 1:06 pm

the real issue should be… is HARRY MUDD in this movie????

T2
September 8, 2008 1:09 pm

Well this should start an interesting conversation. Shatner wanted more involvement in this film, and it knocked him out of the film. Didn’t something similar happen with him in Enterprise? Well I’m happy it was considered. Shouldn’t be considering what could’ve been when nothing “has been” yet. Maybe this issue could be revisited after the movie comes out, if it’s worth it.

September 8, 2008 1:09 pm

I haven’t been one of the ones saying he MUST be in this movie but canon or not if they wanted to get him in they could have found a way. This is sci-fi.

September 8, 2008 1:11 pm

Forget writing Shatner’s Captain Kirk into the film. It would have been interesting if Shatner could have played a descendant of Denny Crane as an instructor at the Academy… The real question is, would he teach law or target practice?

richpit
September 8, 2008 1:12 pm

I hope this issue is never spoken of again. Shatner’s not in it. It’s over. I like Shatner, really, but he is a huge ego. I’m sure he wouldn’t do it unless it was totally about him and he was THE star of the movie.

Frankly, I wish it were a totally new story, not using any of the original actors. Nothing against Nimoy…he’s great…but it seems to me that they might be using him (or “old Spock”) as a crutch.

My 2 cents.

Bob, the Evil Klingon Frontline Leader
September 8, 2008 1:22 pm

This is the ONLY WAY that Kirk could have been brought back. And, it would make a mighty fine movie:

Rand awakens in her cabin and hears the sonic shower. She goes to see who’s in there, when Kirk suddenly appears! We now learn that Spock is a evil dilithium crystal baron, McCoy lives on a cul-de-sac called Seaview Circle, and Scotty fights crime and can breath underwater. Guianan, sensing that something is terribly wrong with the space/time continuum, tracks down Dr. Richard Daystrom, and together they transmorphorate a DeLorean DMC-12 into a time machine and travel back to set things straight!

CanuckLou
September 8, 2008 1:22 pm

Shat in a flashback? Damn sloppy that would not work! A cameo at the end is the only option!

…the adventure continues…

Moonwatcher
September 8, 2008 1:25 pm

Being from Wisconsin, the only other thing getting more press than the “Shatner in the film issue” was Favre leaving the Packers! If I can handle seeing Favre in a Jets uniform, you all can all handle Shatner not being in the film. Life goes on….. : (

SpikedCanon
September 8, 2008 1:27 pm

another movie could be filmed in flash forward from Pine to Shatner……

tRUTH iS oUT tHere
September 8, 2008 1:30 pm

I think someone’s EGO got in the way….He really had a chance to pass the torch properly but get a few Emmy nominations and boy, did he blow it…I have no compassion for Mr. Shatner on this from what we have heard…He should have been graceful enough to accept whatever JJ and his team had come up with if he was truly in it for the art and not the paycheck….I mean, come on…how much more money do you need when you are in your 70’s….

Darth Ballz
September 8, 2008 1:35 pm

“I hope this issue is never spoken of again. Shatner’s not in it. It’s over”

Thank you, this is been talked about to death and to shoehorn the Shat into the move is the fanboy wet dream but not so good for NEW viewers who need a fresh start. If you want Trek to survive then it has to grow and be fresh…….

Darth “craptastic” Ballz

I'm dead Jim
September 8, 2008 1:36 pm

4. Scotty may have been suffering some memory loss from being stuck in a transporter loop for 75 years. I’m usually a bit foggy after waking up from a single night’s sleep. Wait a minute. What? Kirk is dead? ;-)

Rod Of Rassilon
September 8, 2008 1:37 pm

16. how much more money do you need when you are in your 70’s….

errr, maybe 30 years worth??

September 8, 2008 1:42 pm

I kind of agree with richpit (#11) in relation to using Nimoy’s Spock as a “crutch” (I think you put it more eloquantly than I could have), but if the writing’s solid enough, it’s not going to seem too contrived. Having both Kirk and Spock in there… it would defeat the purpose of having a new crew at all really. I don’t regret Shatner not being in this movie. Nor do I regret Abrams’ dealing with not releasing the details. It adds to the anticipation as far as I’m concerned. If the director has paid as much attention to making an amazing film as he has done in keeping things secret, then we’ve got a VERY good move on our hands and one worthy of reigniting the Star Trek franchise.

N
September 8, 2008 1:42 pm

Flashback forget it. I want the Generations death reversed. I’m glad he’s not in it now. I say throw out the cannon & create an alternate timeline.

J_schinderlin56
September 8, 2008 1:45 pm

Is it Cannon? Is it a Reboot? Is it both? What’s the deal here?

John from Cincinnati
September 8, 2008 1:47 pm

I don’t blame Shatner for wanting a bigger role. I also don’t blame JJ for not finding a way to get him in the story while keeping it a good and believable story. It’s all just disappointing. I would’ve loved to see Nimoy and Shatner on screen together again, they aren’t getting any younger.

TrekMadeMeWonder
September 8, 2008 1:47 pm

More like a flash forward scene…to the 24th century.

So, we get more tid bits from our Trek savior the great J.J. Abrams.
But for newcomers interested in how things might play out in Trek XI,
I laid out my own plot summary on what I’d expect to see. It received some good reviews around here. AND, it included ALL the original actors in a nice, easily understood, closing scene.

Now, I have been asked not to post my synopsis again here (wink, wink.)
But, if your interested in reading my vision of Trek XI’s stoyline, then just Google ‘TrekMadeMeWonder.’ The three page description is intended only for those in need of a TREK fix. Who votes that I should go book form with the plot as a X-mas present to you all?

My guess is that Shatner will be in the next flick. He’s just holding out for more $s. I think he deserves it!!! Especially after watching the ‘Ultimate Computer’ last night. What was that? Three speeches in one episode? The first speech, ‘All I ask is A Tall Ship,’ was great! Perfectly acted in my book. It also reminded me of Shatner’s 70s singing performances.

Kudos Bill!
I go an extra 4 mil for the big boy.

Will
September 8, 2008 1:51 pm

A smarter group of film makers could definitely have figured it out. They could have also figure out what a phaser, a tricorder, or Uhura’s ear piece looked like… you know, because they paid attention to that which they should have paid attention to…

Maurício
September 8, 2008 1:53 pm

Everything is very good. The problem is:
Where is that damn trailler we’re all dying to see?
JJ is making this waiting deliberately hard for us die hard fans

Captain Scokirk
September 8, 2008 1:54 pm

Relics was on recently during sci fi channel marathon, bringing up the whole Scotty remembering Kirk’s death memory, my theory is while there was virtually no signal degredation of Scotty’s pattern, there was some and clearly the part of the pattern that was lost was his memory of Kirk’s death on the Enterprise -B.

Or as Jimmy himself said at a convention in response to an over zealous fan when asked “In Star Trek The Next Generation: Relics you awoke from the transporter whith no knowledge of Jim Kirk’s death yet in the movie Star Trek Generations you witnissed this, please explain this discrepancy…”

To which Jimmy replied “…..Picky, Picky, Picky”

Boborci
September 8, 2008 1:57 pm

Alex and I did indeed come up with a sequence for Shatner that we wrote before the strike, although technically it wasn’t a flashback.

Thomas
September 8, 2008 2:05 pm

To which Jimmy replied “…Picky, picky, picky.”

I love that. Especially when having to deal with a fairly difficult question.

I’m willing to take J.J.’s word that they had a scene in mind for Shatner but ultimately he didn’t take it. I don’t think it’s a put-on, I don’t feel like I’m being lied to, I think it’s the truth.
Of course, this story will do NOTHING to calm the belief that Shatner’s still in the movie.

Fatman Bruno
September 8, 2008 2:05 pm

Elaborate please Bob

Boborci
September 8, 2008 2:09 pm

31

After the movie, I’ll post the sequence in question…

TrekMadeMeWonder
September 8, 2008 2:10 pm

“31. Fatman Bruno – September 8, 2008
Elaborate please Bob”

I second that motion!

*Please!

John from Cincinnati
September 8, 2008 2:10 pm

One thing I don’t understand, if the story deals with alternate realities/timelines shouldn’t that open the door to Kirk being alive in some way?

Sean
September 8, 2008 2:12 pm

Thanks for the information! If Shatner wanted more than a cameo then it was never meant to be. Like JJ said, his character died on screen. Time for us to move on. I’m gonna take Kevin Smith and Wil Wheaton’s word for it and expect this new Trek movie to be great.

ByGeorge
September 8, 2008 2:13 pm

Why does none of this surprise me? Shatner egotistical – never LOL!! Hope Chris Pine is of a different breed so I can start to like the character of Kirk again. Shatner’s ego started to degrade my ability to like the character of Kirk.

I’m glad those involved had the guts to stand up to the egotiscal spoiled brat and say no. Besides, Pine is better-looking than Shatner was in the role. I want Kirk, not Shatner back on the screen.

trekee
September 8, 2008 2:19 pm

Ouch….

“After the movie, I’ll post the sequence in question…”

Bad enough we’re on tenderhooks until May for the film, now we have to wait for the post-movie-pre-script-proto-spoiler? I’m getting a nosebleed.

I’m just glad that all the talk of trying to get his Shatnerness in wasn’t in fact just talk and that the deciding factor was being true to the film.

I can live with that quite happily.

Morty
September 8, 2008 2:19 pm

“Technically it wasn’t a flasback”?!! Mr Orci sure knows how to tease the fans! I would love to know what this scene was but somehow I think I will have to wait until after the movie is released to find out! Still it makes a pleasant change to have a Star Trek production thats entire plot has not been leaked all over the internet! I can’t wait to see this movie and I just hope that when it is released I can go into it unspoilt!

Mazzer
September 8, 2008 2:20 pm

Ha! Finally, the truth, and it’s much what some of us had suspected!

shinzon of TARDIS xd
September 8, 2008 2:27 pm

the loophole needed to bring shatner’s kirk back isn’t scotty having thought kirk was alive but in generations, picard initially failed at stopping soran from destroying the Veridian star, which sucked picard into the nexus where he brought kirk out onto Veridian III BEFORE picards failure which means the second time around there shouldve been kirk, soran and 2 PICARDS on Veridian 3…

M33
September 8, 2008 2:31 pm

JJ! Dying for a new trailer! Give us something! Please!

Joel
September 8, 2008 2:33 pm

Kirk’s death in Generations is filled with problems anyways. If he died within the Nexus, can’t you just got back to another point an rescue him? Sigh, the Nexus and Generations as a movie remains a huge problem within Star Trek. A piss poor attempt to bring both captains together for a movie with one cause…..to make money.

M33
September 8, 2008 2:33 pm

You know, it’s Janeway’s fault that the entire Star Trek universe will be reset to before the beginning of the original series. The universe was hunky-dory, but Janeway wasn’t happy and went back to bring the ship home early. That caused Mr. Nero to develop his time machine and cause the REBOOT! Aha! Logic!

TheLovelyBonesMcCoy
September 8, 2008 2:34 pm

Sorry it didn’t work out, Bob. I got a feeling you really wanted that sequence in as much as some of us did.

TrekMadeMeWonder
September 8, 2008 2:34 pm

Considering that Shatner and Co. launched DesiLu succesfully (and which later became Paramount,) I think he deserves a pass on
any disputes. Make it work guys! You ony have one shot at this one.
And by the way. Does’nt a NO KIRK movie mean Nimoy’s appearance
will be (to a degree) uninspired? Being that Spock and Kirk were such close friends.

Also, drop the ‘TIme Ship’ idea please.
Where did that come from anyhow?

27. Captain Scokirk – September 8, 2008
Great comment! Only here can you ever learn such things.

Robert April
September 8, 2008 2:35 pm

Good luck with this movie Boborci. I hope the buzz for this project doesn’t peak too soon, given the pushed back release date.

PC
September 8, 2008 2:37 pm

Abrams said it was a flashback, Orci says it wasn’t? Interesting how two of the main players differ in viewpoints.

I do have to say that imho, there is a certain cowardice with the current ST regime with Bill Shatner. The regime blames a video clip where Shatner says “I don’t do cameos” but was it not the regime that leaked the word “cameo” to the press and was not the video about the reaction to a press article?

Also did the regime ever really contact Shatner to see if he was interested or was it convenient that the video clip was out there? I don’t think they did – instead they just used the clip as an excuse. Just seems like they took the coward’s way out of this to save face.

Alex
September 8, 2008 2:38 pm

Abrams is absolutely awesome. He beats both the Shat (regarding not wanting to do a cameo) and the Shat-entusiasts (regarding Trek canon) with their own weapons In one abstract. He doesn’t even blame anyone. He just gives you the feeling that what they did is absolutely right.

No matter if you like him or not, but he definitely knows how to talk…

Bob, the Evil Klingon Frontline Leader
September 8, 2008 2:39 pm

45 – ??? Man, I hope you are joking about Desilu and Paramount.

Closettrekker
September 8, 2008 2:42 pm

Sounds about like what I’ve been saying all along…

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