For costume designer on the new Star Trek movie, JJ Abrams went to someone he hadn’t worked with before, Michael Kaplan. In a new interview in SciFi Now the veteran designer talks about what it was like in that first meeting with Abrams, how he put together the film’s costumes, and more. Excerpts below.
Kaplan: new eyes – but did his Trek homework
Michael Kaplan is an award winning costume designer who has worked in Hollywood for three decades, starting off with the landmark sci-fi film Blade Runner in 1982. Yet when he went in to his first meeting with JJ Abrams, he wasn’t sure how it was going to work out. In my interview for SciFiNow, Kaplan said:
I went into that meeting thinking I had a huge problem and disclosed to him that I hadn’t seen any of the Star Trek movies and knew the TV series, but just because I was growing up during that time, not because I was an avid fan. He felt that was a plus, because he wanted something really fresh. He wanted new eyes.
In their early discussions, the costume designer expressed his feelings regarding many “futuristic movies,” and the fact that he simply didn’t buy it when a new colony of people would be dressed in Biblical, Greek, Roman or Egyptian costumes. Kaplan noted:
I told him it would be really fun to create a whole new world, yet do an homage to the TV show, because that’s where our world in Star Trek would end. There were certain things we wanted to be recognizable. Updated, but not done away with, like the Enterprise costumes. There’s a ‘60s sensibility I thought was important to keep intact. It was really about finding a balance. I would do some sketching and say, ‘I love this costume idea, but it doesn’t feel like Star Trek,’ and we would abandon it. A design could have been more Star Wars, for example. There’s a vocabulary that was needed, and, of course, I studied the Star Trek Encyclopedia.
Kaplan wanted to keep that ’60s sensibility’ with the crew uniforms
Star Trek’s new costume designer also went into detail on creating the new version of the classic TOS uniform:
I wanted to do something more sophisticated than they had done on the TV series, so I created a new fabric where a pattern of the boomerang logo was utilized. You’ll also see that there is now a black shirt that’s a part of the uniform. Back on the TV show, it was all one piece. This is like the undershirt and uniform is on top of that. It made sense to me that the uniform would have an undershirt, and that it would still be consistent. The shirt is a dark charcoal gray, as are the pants, and the color of the jumpers describe what that person’s job is.
For more of my interview with Kaplan, pick up a copy of SciFi Now #24 (available for to purchase online).
Edward Gross is a sci-fi journalist and contributor to multiple magazines, including Geek Monthly, SciFi Now and SFX.
Visit Ed’s new website VisitorsAmongUs.com, with all the latest news on “V,” both then and now. The 1980s’ science fiction phenomenon “V” is returning on two fronts, first as a pilot for a proposed ABC series produced by The 4400’s Scott Peters, and then as a feature film in development by concept originator Kenneth Johnson.