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Abrams Talks Challenge Of Keeping Star Trek From Turning Into Parody

In a light-hearted interview for BBC Radio 1, JJ Abrams talks about Fringe, Cloverfield, Lost, and yes…Star Trek. Abrams and comedian host Chris Moyles joke around a lot, but the Star Trek director also reveals some new things about the film and goes into more about how he is trying to ensure the film does not become a sequel to Galaxy Quest (not that there is anything wrong with that).

You can watch the whole interview at the BBC site


CLICK TO WATCH INTERVIEW

Star Trek not Galaxy Quest 2
The host asked JJ if they studied plans for the USS Enterprise and then asked if his had any toilets on it. Which led Abrams to talk about canon and camp…

It is very funny because when you get into what is known— they had blueprints that they sold, but a lot of it is hypothesis, like made up. … The show itself made mistakes. The idea that there is a canon of Trek and what is honest to goodness Trek and what you can’t change — The show itself changed history and revised things a lot. So clearly the approach was we want to make this thing feel real. It is so insane, the idea of these massive starships. The goal of this movie, despite it being called Star Trek, despite the pointy ears and all the established fans and hundreds of hours and almost a dozen movies and all that kind of stuff, we actually feel this is kind of a new thing and this is legitimate. Which is probably the biggest challenge, because it is by default so close to being campy. Like you see Galaxy Quest, which is such a great movie, and it is so — when you are actually on the set doing Star Trek, there are these moments that are like ‘dear God, how do I not make this bad?’ You see how easily you could go the wrong direction and suddenly you are mocking your own world.

Abrams went on later to talk about the challenge to keep it real and stay away from parody, saying

There were moments where I thought ‘the biggest challenge of this moment is make it not suck.’…To make it not be the version that in Ben Stiller’s hands or someone, which would be hysterically funny, and yet that is not the result you want for this moment.

Some other factoids about Star Trek revealed in the interview

  • Two weeks from ‘locking’ the film
  • No seatbelts on the Enterprise (to honor canon)
  • There is a toilet in one of the shuttles, but not seen
  • There is a ‘red shirt death’
  • Kirk wears ‘yellow’ [gold] shirt at some time in the movie
  • Abrams is going to London in November for something related to Star Trek
Sort by:   newest | oldest
September 19, 2008 2:24 am

Shaping up quite nicely.

Please be good. PLEASE! We need this to be a hit.

September 19, 2008 2:27 am

“We want to make this thing feel real.”

I like that.

September 19, 2008 2:34 am

Sounds good so far

September 19, 2008 2:41 am

“I have been opposed to gag reels simply because Star Trek is something that always borders on the silly… You’ve got people flying at impossible speeds and spaceships defying gravity. You’ve got a lot of things that are accepted, but that are almost scientifically ridiculous. It’s so easy to turn it into a parody.” – Rick Berman

Craig
September 19, 2008 3:00 am

We need this to fail or else this will set a dangerous president, that will eventually kill all Star Trek

September 19, 2008 3:06 am

Chris Moyles? Comedian? Used in the loosest possible terms, I hope.

Craig, I don’t share your pessimism. Despite not being a huge fan of Abrams’ work to date, I actually think he’ll do a good job. And if not, at least it’s an honourable attempt.

Bennie
September 19, 2008 3:11 am

Sweet. Can’t wait for the movie to open. Bad luck for me is that I propably have to wait even longer than you guys in the States, as I’m living in the Netherlands….

NCC-73515
September 19, 2008 3:17 am

7 Bennie – Why not go to Germany and watch it on May 7? ;)

September 19, 2008 4:02 am

“So clearly the approach was we want to make this thing feel real”

Sacred words. One of the issues with post-TOS Trek, in my opinion, was that sense of unreality. Even DS9, with a gritty and dark setting, was full of… plastic… glowing lights… you know what I mean. That world was in a dreamland. Trying to connect it with our sense of reality will be awesome.

Kirk's Toupeé
September 19, 2008 4:19 am

Given this reality angle, I hope it doesn’t have a “Starship Troopers” look and feel to it…..

This is an immense task to get it right, I almost feel suffocated by the 40 years of Trek-lore bearing down in this movie, how must Abrams feel??….

Tanner Waterbury
September 19, 2008 4:44 am

Hey guys, hes going to London in NOVEMBER for something related to Star Trek. I wonder what it could be? New TRAILER perhaps?

konar
September 19, 2008 4:55 am

London symphony orchestra perhaps

Schultz
September 19, 2008 4:58 am

November… London? Recording the score?

vorta23492392932939230
September 19, 2008 5:03 am

kike?

September 19, 2008 5:05 am

He really is bang on with his approach. Even the best of the movies such as TVH still had an element of parody with some character moments, and only just got away with it. TMP is still the film that of the original cast had that element of “real” JJ talks about done best, the massive feel of the ship etc, and lack of parody.

Dab
September 19, 2008 5:18 am

Anthony, can you please fix the typo here:

“It is very funny because when you get into what is known– they had blueprints that they sold, but a lot of it is hypothesis, kike made up. ”

Pretty offensive.

The Underpants Monster
September 19, 2008 5:27 am

Jeez, I always ASSUMED there were unseen toilets somewhere on shuttlecrafts. If it’s unseen, why mention it? Are we going to hear flushing noises from the other side of the closed door à la “All in the Family?”

Duncan MacLeod
September 19, 2008 5:27 am

Dab.

It’s a simple typo. The L is right next to the K. If that word was going be used offensively, it doesn’t quite make sense grammatically. Is he saying that some Jew made it up? That doesn’t make a lot of sense. Especially since Abrams is Jewish according to http://www.nndb.com/people/797/000141374/

Simple Typo

For full disclaimer – I am Jewish and damn proud.

Duncan MacLeod
September 19, 2008 5:31 am

Typos mmmmm.

We need this to fail or else this will set a dangerous president, that will eventually kill all Star Trek

OBAMA OR MCCAIN?

Duncan MacLeod
September 19, 2008 5:31 am

I’ll vote for the PRO STAR TREK president!

Ryan
September 19, 2008 6:13 am

London? Maybe James Bond?

MrLerpa
September 19, 2008 6:15 am

#10, Unlike Starship Troopers JJ has half of his cast running around wearing bright red, blue and gold uniforms, thats got to be very difficult to pull of convincingly.

I want this film to be taken seriously, it would be all to easy to turn it into a laughing stock. TOS can be watched now and be seen as a sixties tv series and you can forgive the design style for that reason, but there is no way that the general public could take that exact look as anything but a joke now.

I think that if Ben Stiller did make this movie it would look EXACTLY as it did in the 1960’s and that would be the big running joke throughout the movie.

The only reason the fantastic James Cawley fan films are taken seriously is because they are made just for fans who can transend the sities design look and appreciate the effort gone in to the reproductions of sets and costumes. My Fifteen year old just thinks they look weird!

I’m all for realism.

Ryan
September 19, 2008 6:15 am

Sorry to make another post, but I looked it up and QofS is indeed premiering in London, although the date is the 29th of October.

Crazy Guy
September 19, 2008 6:26 am

I’d made this exact same decision long ago, but I’ll say it again – I’m gonna give Star Trek: The Movie a chance. And these recent statements by JJ Abrams only reinforce my decision.

And on a side note … I know there are a bunch of people who hated ST: Nemesis, but I liked it. Sorry if I offend you.

September 19, 2008 6:30 am

#5:”We need this to fail…”

I don’t.

Daoud
September 19, 2008 6:34 am

#19 Well, McCain has the Admiralty vote, and Risa and Argelius wrapped up… but Obama has the Hawai’i, Kenya, and Indonesia planets along with Europe and New New England. It could come down to the vote in key battleground states:

The Pakleds… if they remember how to vote….

The Ekosians and Zeons… depending on the uniforms they’re wearing…

The Romulans… whomever the Tal Shiar decides to have them vote for…

The Shapeshifters… if they remember to bring photo ID.

Just be careful voting on Eminiar VII or Vendikar! Those. aren’t. voting. booths. they’re. disintegration. chambers. Spock.

Since the only filmed new Trek we’ve seen features Welder Man, and Todd Palin is a card-carrying union member and steelworker/welder, I think that’s your sign.

Vote for Bill Engvall!

September 19, 2008 6:52 am

#26 – best post today.

JL
September 19, 2008 6:53 am

“We need this to fail.”

What an ignorant thing to say.

What are you waiting for, someone doing Trek later, maybe in 20 years? What is the rational in that?

Come on

Phoenix
September 19, 2008 6:53 am

WTH? WHO transcribed the interview? they misspelled LIKE as KIKE…an EXTREMELY offensive racial slur against Jews…the Shat and Nimoy would be appalled by this error…

Capt Mike from the Terran Empire
September 19, 2008 6:58 am

#5. Please keep your extreme pessimisim to your self. We true Fans want this to Suceed and be the biggest ever in tickets and money so we can have more movies and another Series. that’s what all true Trek Fans want. J.J is our best hope for this and He and his Court are very talented and gifted writers and directers and they are all true Trek Fans just like most of us on this site are.We are all true fans and we have the best of the best makeing this movie. I am so glad that berman is not apart of it as most fans credit him for almost killing Star Trek.

Alex Rosenzweig
September 19, 2008 7:08 am

#5 – Craig, what precedent do you think it’s going to set?

I’m not seeing what’s so horrible here.

Cervantes
September 19, 2008 7:13 am

From the comments by J.J. above, it seems to me as if he will just distance himself from WHATEVER previous onscreen Star Trek ‘canon’ has preceeded his Movie, that he doesn’t like. That is his perogative and entitlement, as it was for the previous makers that meddled with various aspects that came AFTER the original TOS series….but I get more and more convinced that things are going to be very DIFFERENT in lots of areas with J.J.’s own personal ‘re-introductory’ version of Star Trek.

I reckon that, no matter how much I like it, I MAY have to look on this whole Movie as just being a very ‘alternative’ take on what we’ve seen before. And that’s okay, as if I want it to somehow fit into my own ideal version of ‘canon’, then EASILY imagine it as being a TOTALLY ‘alternative’ timeline / universe to what I’ve previously seen. This could still be the direction that J.J. is steering us towards anyway, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Whatever, I am sure this ‘version’ will look sumtuous in it’s visuals, and have a ‘straight-faced’ tone, and will be as plausibly ‘realistic’ as they can manage without it seeming like ‘parody’, WHETHER the crew have ‘colorful’ uniforms or not.

And I sure hope SOMEONE makes that ‘Galaxy Quest’ sequel sometime, complete with all the remaining ORIGINAL actors!

Spectre_7
September 19, 2008 7:19 am

Fail?

If this one doesn’t make it, it’s all over for us.

Which is why it’s gonna be a smash hit

montreal paul
September 19, 2008 7:22 am

# 5 – Craig
“We need this to fail.”

Now why would you want this to fail? That would kill Trek forever. End of story. I may get banned for saying this, But Craig, that is the stupidest thing anyone has ever written here… or anywhere. I agree with JL… that was truly an ignorant thing to say!

I am looking forward to this movie. I think it’s going to be huge and very successful. And I am an old school Trek fan… I’m just not pessimistic and negative.

Capt Mike from the Terran Empire
September 19, 2008 7:29 am

# 34. You Are corect Sir.

Wrath
September 19, 2008 7:33 am

#5 Craig, the fact you used “president” instead of “precedent” encourages me. You are likely in a minority. One can only hope.

DaveO
September 19, 2008 7:35 am

I think it’s safe to assume that JJ’s referring to the Franz Joseph blueprints, which I owned two copies of as a teen.

And sure, yeah, they were indeed hypothetical. Franz used his skills in naval architecture to imagine what the rest of the ship would look like.

But it wasn’t designed as part of the show, just part of the world. It was a fun “what if.”

#26…

McCain *thinks* they got Risa. But it’s a PLEASURE planet.

That’s not gonna go over in the red states.

“The Shapeshifters… if they remember to bring photo ID.”

Didn’t you mean “if they remember to bring *up to date* photo ID.” ?

— Dave

raulpetersen
September 19, 2008 7:36 am

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!

red shirt death!!!! omg me and my mates are going to give a standing ovation when that happens!

raulpetersen
September 19, 2008 7:36 am

red shirt death!!!! omg me and my mates are going to give a standing ovation when that happens!

raulpetersen
September 19, 2008 7:37 am

sorry stupid laptop posted twice!

once again very sorry!

AJ
September 19, 2008 7:51 am

STAR TREK “THE GALILEO SEVEN”

McCoy: “Man! What stinks?”

Scott: “Boma’s in the bog”

Spock: “Yes..it would seem that the shuttlecraft has, unfortunately, somehow gained a toilet.”

Boma: “Pffffffart!”

Spock: “Please get back to draining the phasers. We don’t…”

Boma “FART!”

Spock: “…have much time…”

Craig
September 19, 2008 7:53 am

No need to flame me but, seriously this is not Trek and if you
1.Allow characters to be recast it starts horid cycle of Kirk after Kirk after Picard will be recast.
2.The story will stagnate being stuck in the 23rd. No Cardasia,No Borg,No Dominion,No Ferengi, No 8472, No Bajor
3.Trek will be damaged by panderings to the mass market eg Nemesis Argo scene that saw Picard violate the prime directive in order to ride a dune buggy.
4.As for JJ appart for the first 2 seasons of Alias I think his judgment has been questionable at best
5.As for TOS being and audience grabber I think certainly in the UK that TNG,DS9 & VOY even ENT are more popular

Anything that spawns from this alternate Trek will be of this tainted origin

Personally They should of saved themselve a load of money and spend a quarter of it on a series of TV/DVD movies similar to what stargate are doing

AJ
September 19, 2008 7:54 am

The BBC would like to apologize for that last announcement.

steve
September 19, 2008 8:02 am

#22 – I’m all for realism.

I do agree. It will be interesting to see how he pulls it all off.

One thing I want to note is that the Enterprise will fit nicely into a modern styling/design motif. Meaning, design has come full circle. That ship and its interiors (and consoles) can be “updated” easily.

As one earlier story suggested…I can see the bridge having an Apple Design influence and look fantastic.

It can be said that Abrams could update that entire 60’s look (in total) and pull it off. Yes, the color (Star Trek, in Color) was bold but…the designs were simple and that is a plus when considered as a “foundation” or point of design departure.

Kaywinnet
September 19, 2008 8:08 am

#26 — hilarious! Well done.

Love that JJ references Galaxy Quest — and Ben Stiller doing a Trek parody could be really funny. I’d love to see that.

This site keeps me hopeful about this movie! Can’t wait.

trekkiefan
September 19, 2008 8:12 am

I love that there is a red shirt death. Nice that JJ recognizes that there is a thin line between good Star Trek and Galaxy Quest. From the way he talks, he seems to really understand alot of the nuances of Star Trek.

I love Galaxy Quest but it is not the type of movie I want for the new ST movie.

Frye
September 19, 2008 8:13 am

#42. ‘Cause the Stargate straight-to-DVD movies have been such winners…? Give a dude a chance.

September 19, 2008 8:14 am

#42 — you’re absolutely right. JJ should burn the movie so it never sees the light of day. No Cardasia,No Borg,No Dominion,No Ferengi, No 8472, No Bajor — my GOD, how in the world can they make a movie without the Ferengi and 8472 — no, this new movie MUST NOT BE RELEASED!

NoonienSpock
September 19, 2008 8:15 am

@38

Please refrain from making noises during the most anticipated moments of my life.

OneBuckFilms
September 19, 2008 8:17 am

RE: Toilets.

Number One, you have the Bridge.

I have to take a Number Two ;-)

Sorry …

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