Abrams Talks Star Trek Cast, Characters, Themes and More in New UK Video Interview

The UK’s Sky Movies Channel has a ’35 Mil’ show dedicated to the new Star Trek movie with an excellent exclusive interview with director JJ Abrams. Being that this interview was done at the time of his recent ‘preview tour’ and release of the trailer, Abrams is very forthcoming about the cast, characters, themes and the future of the franchise. Full video below with transcript.

 

[Mild spoilers]

VIDEO (airing in the UK on Sky Movies Channel and also available online)


[Direct link at Sky Movies]

 

Partial transcript:
Here are some excerpts from the interview, for the video challenged.

JJ Abrams on challenges making the movie

Star Trek has been around decades and decades. One of the challenges was to embrace what they were doing originally – the spirit of what Gene Roddenberry created – but to do it in a way that felt legitimate and new. My big fear was doing something that felt campy or silly. …. Movies like Galaxy Quest so successfully satirized this universe. It was important to make this as real as possible.

…on casting Kirk and Spock:

It was tricky – the hardest part was Kirk, because with Spock we were lucky to meet Zachary Quinto fairly early on. He was clearly born to be Spock. The first meeting we had with him, I couldn’t believe his likeness – it was eerie. Spock, I thought was going to be the hardest one, but Kirk was the hardest one for real. Because William Shatner brought a number of things to that role. He was incredibly cocky. He was incredibly smart – his wit was sharp. He had a great sense of humor. He was everything in this package. He didn’t have anything to hide behind, no pointy ears. … It was all about his attitude. I knew I didn’t want to have them impersonating the original actors, and have them do their own thing playing these characters. Finding someone who would come in and be simultaneously brand new and also familiar was really challenging and Chris Pine came in and it was like finding a movie star that is unknown. …He had this incredible confidence, that was not obnoxious. He was great looking, but not ‘oh come one, give me a break.’ He just had all of these – he is so smart, as an actor and a guy – he asks great questions. He was wonderful collaborator. The only other movie I directed [M:I:3] starred Tom Cruise and every day, Tom who is sort of an icon, was there as a sort of sherpa with me helping me do all the heavy lifting. And this was sizable movie without a movie star. And so a lot was riding on Chris and Zach’s shoulder’s to make this thing work and they just brought their ‘A game.’

…on the film’s themes:

First of all Star Trek is an incredibly optimistic world that Roddenberry was basically positing that not only do we live, but we thrive. And not just racially, but inter-species. The idea of ‘Star Trek’ is trekking through stars and trekking through space and discovering the final frontier and it is something you take for granted or may thing is silly, but when you actually think about that notion it is a very optimistic one. So part of what I love about the world of Star Trek before you even get to this film, I live its optimism. And I think specifically with this movie – this is an origin story about people who come together. This is a family on this ship. To see Kirk, who is at the beginning this incredibly cocky – when we first meet him he is aimless guy who is looking for his place, he doesn’t know how to use his power. And then you got Spock who is this logical character, but also conflicted because he is half human. And you have these two characters and they are sort of yin and yang and they come together and it is sort of like two brothers in a way, their story.

I think the themes of the movie beyond. There is definitely good versus evil. Eric Bana plays an incredibly scary bad guy [Nero] who has a great story and is incredible in the movie. so you definitely have good vs. evil, but even the good is defined in this movie. You see it coming together. So it is a very optimistic film in that way. To me it is the thing that I am happiest about, that we realized that goal which is to invest in and love the characters and go up against the bad guy.

On the new trailer:

The idea was to begin Earth-bound. You hear ‘Star Trek’ and you expect some space ship…The idea was to show the scope of the movie, but also make it clear that this is a story about these two characters – Kirk and Spock – and their conflict – it is essential to the movie. And give a taste of the movie. You may know Star Trek, but the version of Star Trek you are about to see is unlike any you have seen before.

….

For the most part, the movie assumes that you haven’t seen this world before. The movie that we have done was not made for fans of Star Trek, it has really been made for future fans of Star Trek. I hope that when you see this or when you go to the movie you don’t feel like you need to know anything about Star Trek. This is literally a ground floor, starting from scratch, brand new experience.

Is this a repositioning of the franchise?

I didn’t look at the thing as a brand or a franchise, I sort of looked at it as a story of these characters. I was excited to get involved as a producer, but it wasn’t until I read the script that Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci wrote – that I loved it and I felt so jealous of anyone who got to direct these people and these characters and this story. It is a very intimate story told against a huge epic backdrop, sort of both big and small.

Will it lead to future movies?

Yes…I believe so – ideally it would be fantastic. You love these people and want to see what they do next.

More Star Trek coverage at Sky movies.

 

Thanks to Charles for the link

 

Sort by:   newest | oldest
November 30, 2008 1:24 pm

interesting

November 30, 2008 1:28 pm

“Tighter than one of William Shatner’s facelifts.” LOL

Xai
November 30, 2008 1:28 pm

Very complimentary toward Shatner and TOS as a whole.

Sloan47
November 30, 2008 1:31 pm

This is exactly what Star Trek needs… fresh blood. I love everything that has been done so far. I welcome the change!

C.S. Lewis
November 30, 2008 1:35 pm

Very generic talk. I just don’t want to be bitterly disappointed when this thing finally shows. I remember two notable “genre” films that were so bad, I felt humiliated allowing myself to dare think they would carry on in their respective traditions: The Planet of the Apes (I walked out it was so barftastic) and the fourth Star Wars movie, whatever the devil it was called.

Both were silly. Both were fantastic in a bad sense. Neither seemed to have any but the slightest of superficial connecxions to their namesakes.

Honestly, I felt somewhat like a chump. The night before the Apes fiasco, I viewed the Robert Wise classic on my big screen tv. It was remarkably relevant and withstood the test of time. In fact, the production values were and are still first rate. Goldsmith’s score is a classic in iteself!

So after those con-jobs, I swore to myself, NEVER AGAIN!

Perhaps I should wait for the TrekMovie.com reviews before I go and drag the family to a potentially public embarrassment!

Sincerely,

C.S. Lewis

November 30, 2008 1:35 pm

“The movie that we have done was not made for fans of Star Trek, it has really been made for future fans of Star Trek. ”

Trying to distance yourself from a crowd that kept the franchise alive for 42 years is a risky move.

cellojammer
November 30, 2008 1:37 pm

My fondest hope is that it fits right into the Trek mythos and universe we love, requiring just a small leap of faith to reconcile differences in visual style and backstory. Without invoking an alternate universe or timeline.

If it turns out that this is not the case, well I’ll be open to that too. Just so long as it’s entertaining and enlightening!

Boborci
November 30, 2008 1:41 pm

6 agree with you.
But I say the movie is for both.

Chris Basken
November 30, 2008 1:42 pm

#6: “Trying to distance yourself from a crowd that kept the franchise alive for 42 years is a risky move.”

Define “alive.”

Harry Ballz
November 30, 2008 1:51 pm

Did anyone else catch Abrams’s comment on Shatner’s hair?

He said, “Shatner was great in bringing Kirk to life because he couldn’t hide behind pointed ears…or crazy hair….well, maybe crazy hair”

He spoke those last few words very quickly and in a low throw-away voice, but a very funny quip none the less!

Kirk's Revenge
November 30, 2008 1:51 pm

#6

Yeah, a little too risky for my tastes.

Xai
November 30, 2008 1:52 pm

#5 C.S. Lewis

Going into a movie with the worst expectations is not a great way to enjoy yourself.
You are correct. See a review before you go.

James
November 30, 2008 1:53 pm

@6:

Arguably, we didn’t keep it alive, ‘cos it was cancelled.

They are taking a risk – a very big risk. But I can’t see that they’d commit $150m to this if they didn’t think it was going to be successful. They’ve aimed it at a more general audience, and that will be where it generates its success. The question is, will it resonate with all us die-hards as well?

I guess we’ll find out in May.

montreal paul
November 30, 2008 1:53 pm

6. Q Macedonia
Trying to distance yourself from a crowd that kept the franchise alive for 42 years is a risky move.

I don’t think it was alive anymore.. if it was.. barely. This WILL invigorate the franchise. If it wasn’t for THIS movie… Trek would be dead. And i don’t believe he is distancing himself from the fans… the fan base is there.. he want to create more fans.

cellojammer
November 30, 2008 1:55 pm

6.

I’m part of the crowd that kept the franchise alive but I don’t feel distanced at all. I’m pumped up for this new movie. Bring it on!

bdrcarter
November 30, 2008 1:57 pm

Sorry…off topic:

When will we get the review of “The Cage” from TOS-R Season 3?

DEMODE
November 30, 2008 1:58 pm

I am soooooooo excxited for this movie!

I think I understand what JJ is trying to say… by his comment that it “wasn’t made for the fans of Star Trek.” My impression of that comment was that this film is for a new generation of fans who were not familiar with classic Trek. I dont think he wants to alienate classic fans though. Why else would Nimoy be in it? I think he simply wants a film that can be viewed and understood by someone who has never seen Trek before.

Star Trek does have alot of history, and sometimes that can weigh the storytelling down. I have faith that this will be an amazing film.

maffc
November 30, 2008 1:58 pm

Maybe when he says “future fans of Star Trek” it’s not about fans of future Star Trek productions to the exclusion of what has gone before.

Maybe the hope is that having seen this movie, casual viewers will want to see more, watch TOS to see the continuing adventures and become fans.

November 30, 2008 2:02 pm

If the franshise is so dead
then why are we here fighting over it ?

November 30, 2008 2:02 pm

Bob I’m glad to hear that, but your comment will be read from a few hundred trekkers. And JJ’s interview will be viewed by millions i guess. I tottally understand why he is doing this. I’ve done the same with freinds while showing them the trailer. Check this out it’s tottally new stuff. it’s nothing like you’ve known before about Star Trek. But when my friends (I hope) go to see the movie, I want them to say “Hey… so that’s what he was all crazy about this past few years.” And not “Hey, screw you, this is my Star Trek and this has nothing to do with your nonsense that was before JJ.”

I hope you see my point. As I said, i understand JJ, but i would be more selective of the words that he is using.

#9 Alive is a franchise that has 10 movies. Eleventh is on it’s way. 5 TV shows, one animated. Franchise is alive when to this date is inspiring people, on moral and scientific levels. And when Klingon language is studied at universities in England. And when Paramount wants to ride on the Star Trek wave… I say that that franchise is pretty much alive.

C.S. Lewis
November 30, 2008 2:04 pm

#12 Xai

Please, I don’t see the need for personally snide comments, which seems your speciality. It is chancy enough to air publicly one’s private feelings about a silly television franchise (not unlike laundry on the clothesline).

It’s quite another to endure snarky snickering from those I hoped would appreciate my concerns if not share them to one degree or another.

So I ask you please to stop.

Sincerely,

C.S. Lewis

Stanky McFibberich
November 30, 2008 2:08 pm

re: 5 C.S. Lewis
“The night before the Apes fiasco, I viewed the Robert Wise classic on my big screen tv”

I must have missed the Robert Wise version of Planet of the Apes.

allister gourlay
November 30, 2008 2:08 pm

4. Sloan47 I totally agree!
Bring star trek into the 21st century and to a wider audience.

November 30, 2008 2:09 pm

21
Did I miss something ?
Personally snide comments?

Going into a movie with the worst expectations is not a great way to enjoy yourself.
You are correct. See a review before you go.

Sounds like good advice to anyone to me….
unless Isee this isas Out of Context ?

November 30, 2008 2:10 pm

#13 and 14

The franchise was never dead for me. It just had setbacks and nothing more.

TOS was cancelled in 1969 but look at us now.

#15 I don’t feel distanced at all.

Bob’s words are quite reassuring. :)))

Stanky McFibberich
November 30, 2008 2:10 pm

re: 12 Xai
“Going into a movie with the worst expectations is not a great way to enjoy yourself.
You are correct. See a review before you go.”

I will do that. Oops, I guess you weren’t talking to me. :)

Harry Ballz
November 30, 2008 2:14 pm

Stanky! Good to see you here!

Tell me, has your opinion changed regarding the movie as compared to your position of a year ago?

OneBuckFilms
November 30, 2008 2:16 pm

I think JJ gets what Star Trek is really about. I’m optimistic, personally, but we’ll have to wait until May to see if the optimism translates onto the screen.

Xai
November 30, 2008 2:18 pm

21. C.S. Lewis – November 30, 2008
“#12 Xai

Please, I don’t see the need for personally snide comments, which seems your speciality. It is chancy enough to air publicly one’s private feelings about a silly television franchise (not unlike laundry on the clothesline).

It’s quite another to endure snarky snickering from those I hoped would appreciate my concerns if not share them to one degree or another.

So I ask you please to stop.

Sincerely,

C.S. Lewis”

-My comment was neither snarky or an insult, unlike yours. You are reading far more into my post than I wrote. I basically agreed with you… read a review before viewing since you are very skeptical.

Xai
November 30, 2008 2:20 pm

26. Stanky McFibberich – November 30, 2008
“re: 12 Xai
“Going into a movie with the worst expectations is not a great way to enjoy yourself.
You are correct. See a review before you go.”

I will do that. Oops, I guess you weren’t talking to me. :)”

-It applies double to you, old friend, and quit reading other people’s mail. :-)

Harry Ballz
November 30, 2008 2:21 pm

Xai’s suggestion was both reasonable and fair.

It would seem someone is LOOKING for an argument.

Kirk's Revenge
November 30, 2008 2:21 pm

I just hope this movie doesn’t dumb itself down for the new audience. Hopefully, it will have a good dose of the intelligent humor and biting social commentary that made TOS so good. This movie doesn’t need violent, scenery-chewing Romulans to be good. It doesn’t need white bras and scantily clad Orion slave girls to be… uh…

I’m sorry. I forgot my point. :)

Harry Ballz
November 30, 2008 2:23 pm

Mmmmmm, scantily clad Orion slave girls………..can’t talk, drooling!

Stanky McFibberich
November 30, 2008 2:24 pm

re: 27 Furry Spheres
“Tell me, has your opinion changed regarding the movie as compared to your position of a year ago?”

Basically, no. The more information I see about it, the more it seems my original opinion is being confirmed.
Although I will not be chomping at the bit to see it on opening day, I suppose I will go see it sometime so that I may fairly judge the final product. I will let you know more then.

How about yourself?

November 30, 2008 2:25 pm

Star Trek has always had a Moral to the story
A Life’s Lesson as it were
What is the Moral to this story?
(Don’t go back in time and screw everything up?)

Snarky McFibberich
November 30, 2008 2:31 pm

re: 30 Xai
“-It applies double to you, old friend, and quit reading other people’s mail. :-)”

Sorry. For some unknown reason, it just seemed like you speaking directly to me.

And please, knock it off with the snarky comments. You are well known for your snarkiness and if you continue this snarkiness people will have to let you know about all that snarkiness and stuff.

November 30, 2008 2:31 pm

#35
What is the Moral to this story?
(Don’t go back in time and screw everything up?)

Hahaha. Nice one.

Besides my negative comments on the promotional campaign that JJ is doing, I am very much on board with this movie. And sincerely we cannot expect a lot of Life Lessons and deep Moral stories from this movie. Or any Star Trek movie. I just expect from this movie to make the way for a new TV show where the people behind it can address this issues. I don’t think that kind of stuff work on the Big screen.

Enterprise
November 30, 2008 2:32 pm

Galaxy Quest was succesful?

MattTheTrekkie
November 30, 2008 2:34 pm

Well… I’m still pumped. Probably will still be pumped when the movie comes out.

I think the Idea of an off shoot time line and an off shoot story arc would be cool. I’ve always wondered about what would happen in the alternate time lines that were constantly brought up in Star Trek. Now we actually get to go into detail about one of them.

Watching what happens to everyone once Vulcan is destroyed and the federation has to fight off a bad guy from the 24-25ish century. Totally epic :D

November 30, 2008 2:40 pm

This movie will do big for the same reason Cloverfield did- JJ and company are brilliant at marketing. Keeping things secret inherently makes people want to know more.

I must admit, though, I agree, saying this movie isn’t for fans of Star Trek is risky beyond reason… but then, so is redesigning the Enterprise and the bridge… one risk after another… but this movie will do huge numbers in spite of its genuine worth as a movie(be that good or bad) because marketing is key.

That said, from what little I have gathered about the story, the story to me seems fine… for me, it’s the excessive amount of flash crammed in for the ADD movie goers… that and the (in my opinion) awful redesigns seen thus far(both in and outside of the Enterprise).

cellojammer
November 30, 2008 2:42 pm

25. Q Macedonia

#15 I don’t feel distanced at all.

Bob’s words are quite reassuring. :)))

—————–

You’re damn right they are. I’ve been a fan since the 70s (caught a couple episodes in the 60s but was too young to apprecate them), and I’m very reassured that this movie was written by a Trekker. I have a good feeling Mr. Orci really gets what makes Star Trek work.

The TOS Purist aka The Purolator
November 30, 2008 2:43 pm

Stanky!! It’s nice to see the One Who Named Me (that’d be you) comment again!!

I really wish that Abrams would stop talking about “Galaxy Quest.” He needs to be less concerned about leaving off the cheese and more concerned about delivering a quality story. He should be comparing his movie to TOS, not Galaxy Quest.

OneBuckFilms
November 30, 2008 2:45 pm

5 – The Original Planet of the Apes was directed in 1968 by Franklin J. Schaffner, and sported a fantastic score by Jerry Goldsmith.

It is an all-time classic, and Charlton Heston was terrific.

kye
November 30, 2008 2:45 pm

i for one am gonna welcome the new fresh ideas that this movie will have! I have been a fan for 35 years and i am soo happy that they are throughing a fresh new look to star trek . I for one am looking forward to see how pine will do as Kirk and Quintos has spock down to a tee .

Xai
November 30, 2008 2:47 pm

Harry Ballz

Good to see you Harry.

TOS Enterprise
November 30, 2008 2:49 pm

Re: 5

The Planet of the Apes (1968) was Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner NOT Robert Wise.

And just so you know, the screenplay was based on the novel by Pierre Boulle
and was written by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling (of Twilight Zone fame).

D
November 30, 2008 2:49 pm

Okay, well…it’s been said about plenty of other things…

So, you were given all the rope you asked for.

Come May, we’ll find out whether you made a fun swing…or you hanged yourselves…

Xai
November 30, 2008 2:51 pm

36. Snarky McFibberich – November 30, 2008
.

And please, knock it off with the snarky comments. You are well known for your snarkiness and if you continue this snarkiness people will have to let you know about all that snarkiness and stuff.

Ok, fine.
Snarky… isn’t that a Muppet’s name?

Xai
November 30, 2008 2:52 pm

#47 D

Fair enough, but a rather morbid analogy.

Salamander Cakes
November 30, 2008 2:57 pm

Trekker? What the hell is a trekker? I hate that term. It sounds so conceited and holier-than-thou. I reference Roddenberry who dismissed that term. For me who has been a trekkie since a small boy to someone who just learned about Star Trek, it feels nicer to say, “C’mon, let’s go be trekkies together!”. Sorry, just a little rant. Otherwise, about the movie, only time will tell whether this a great movie or not, but in the meantime, let’s just be optimistic.

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