Today Paramount held a press event in LA for their fall home video releases, including Star Trek. One of the Q&A sessions was with Star Trek director JJ Abrams who, in addition to questions about DVD and Blu-ray sets, ended up talking about the Star Trek sequel, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nick Meyer, and more. Get all the details below.
Q&A with JJ Abrams
JJ Abrams talks Star Trek sequel
Question: With the prequel, you have a chance to wipe the slate clean with maybe Romulans and Klingons. [In the next film] Do you have any intention of using the pre-existing monsters or characters, or bringing in a whole new mythology?
JJ Abrams: In going forward, the fun of this movie series is that we will have the opportunity, given its alternate timeline, to cross paths with any of the experiences, places, characters that existed in The Original Series. . We have to be really careful, doing that. I don’t want to do something that is so inside that, once again, only die-hard fans will appreciate. But I guarantee you , and we are just now working on the script and just now beginning the process of story breaking, whatever the story is and whatever the final movie ends up being, I know it will be something that the intent is that it will work on its own terms and be something that you don’t need to know and study Star Trek to get, but if you are a fan, there will be, hopefully, gift after gift of connections, references and characters that you, as a fan, hold near and dear.
Question: How far ahead do you envision your involvement with the franchise? Is it a movie-by-movie basis? Or do you see yourself kind of shepherding it for the foreseeable future?
JJ Abrams: That’s a wonderfully optimistic question and I appreciate that. The answer is, obviously, movie-to-movie. The fact that we are now actively discussing the second film is surreal and very nice, and I’m thrilled and I hope that that results in something worthy of your time. But, it’s one of those things that you just don’t know and so I cannot presume it’s going to be a series that goes beyond those. Do we have ideas for a few movies? Have we discussed? Of course. You can’t help but go “Oh, it would be really cool, if we could do this, or if we set that up there?” You throw those things around, but we can’t presume it’s going to be anything more than now another film that we’re lucky enough to do.
Question: Any chance of you shooting the next Star Trek film in 3-D?
JJ Abrams: It is funny. Paramount talked to me about doing the first one in 3-D and, having it only be my second film, I was petrified just at the addition–I thought it would be another dimension of pain-in-the-ass. I thought I would be like, "oh my god, I just want to make a decent 2-D movie.” I was so worried that, instead of being a decent 2-D movie, it would have been a bad 3-D one. So I’m open to looking at it because now I feel a little bit more comfortable and, if I, in fact, direct the sequel to our Star Trek film, 3-D could be really fun, so I’m open to it. What I’ve seen of Avatar makes me want to do it, because it’s so crazy-cool looking.
Question: You managed to contemporize what was an aging franchise, with your work on Star Trek, and you have talked about including more current events or contemporary themes in the sequel. Do you think that Star Trek is something that is sort of evergreen or that needs to be continuously updated for each generation?
JJ Abrams: It’s hard to give a blanket answer to that question. I do think that, whether it’s Star Trek or anything, whatever is being investigated or created or produced now, in movies or TV, needs to consider the context in which it is being distributed. It’s not a vacuum. There are certain universal themes of love or conflict or loyalty or family. There are certain things that are everlasting that need to be presented in a way that makes it feel relevant. Even if it’s a period piece, you need to consider what context that film, that story and those characters are being seen in. But, having said that, with Star Trek, it’s not like we’re looking to make the second movie some kind of heavy political allegory. I think that it’s important that there is metaphor to what we know and that there is relevance, and I think allegory is the thing that made shows like The Twilight Zone and Star Trek resonate and still vital today. But, because the first movie was so much about introducing these people, and it was very much a premise movie very much about how you bring these people together, it made it difficult to also have the film go as deep as it could, about certain conflict, about certain relationships and the heart of who some of these characters are. I think it was successful in what it needed to do to introduce these people, but I feel now that we’ve done that. And yes they are still going to be getting to know each other to some degree, but I think it is the job of the next film to go a little bit deeper–not to be any less fun and take itself too seriously–but to consider now, who these people are now and to grow with them, and examine them a little more closer, now that we’ve gotten through the sort of pleasantries and introductions.
Question: For the next couple of months of the foreseeable future, what do you see focusing on?
JJ Abrams: Jeff Pinkner and Joel Wyman are running Fringe very well and we’re still very involved, but they’re running that. We have a new series that we just sold to NBC that we’re producing–it’s a pilot. There’s a movie that I’m writing that I would love to direct early next year, so we’ll see if that comes to fruition. There’s a movie called Morning Glory that is coming out next year, with Harrison Ford, Rachel McAdams and Diane Keaton, that’s being edited now. Roger Michell directed that. And obviously we’re hard at work on the Trek and Mission: Impossible, there is a lot.
JJ on Shatner and Nimoy in Star Trek, Fringe and MI4
Question: You have said the hardest decision for you with Star Trek was not including William Shatner in the movie, can you talk about the possibility of him being in the next one?
JJ Abrams: I am open to anything. I would love to figure out something. Given the challenge of introducing these new characters, given the burden of cast these new people, I feel like the first did some of the heavy lifting that needed to be done in order to free us going forward, maybe there is less of a burden and more of an opportunity to work with him again. We speak, we actually have a lunch date planned. I am fan, I am a friend of his, or he is at least a friend of mine–he may say otherwise on his blog today, I have no idea. I really couldn’t like him more and would love to work with him.
Question: [Leonard Nimoy] has said that he thought a Star Trek sequel maybe didn’t need him anymore. What is your reaction to that? Is he just being modest?
JJ Abrams: I can say that I can’t imagine a Star Trek movie not needing him. I’m sure what he’s saying is a combination of modesty and honesty. He may actually feel that way. But, the truth is, we could never have made this movie without him, and working with him again would be a joy. It is clearly too early, given that we are just now talking story, to conclude whether or not Spock Prime is in the film or not, but do I want to work with him again? Of course, 100%. I’d love to.
Question: What are your plans for [Leonard Nimoy] on Fringe, beyond this week’s episode?
JJ Abrams: In terms of his role as William Bell, none of us could believe our luck that we convinced him to say yes to bee in the show. He is wonderful in the show. And, I will say that this is not the last you will see of his character.
Question: Can you rule out Leonard Nimoy reprising the role of Paris in Mission: Impossible: IV?
JJ Abrams: How cool would that be? It is funny, I just got a call that Peter Graves is in great shape. There was that time when he did Airplane!, but I almost feel like you could make him serious-ize again and bringing him back. Whether it’s Nimoy, who., of course, I have an incredible affinity for, or Graves, or anyone, we’ll see. I actually tried to get Martin Landau in Mission III, in a very small little moment just for fun, and was told that he had no interest in doing it. But then, when I met him, after the movie came out, it was the greatest thing. We were at this restaurant in New York, for one of the TV upfront parties, and someone introduced me to Landau. They took me over and Martin Landau came over to me, extended his hand, and [pretended to removes his face mask]. That was the greatest thing I’d ever seen.
JJ Abrams on Nick Meyer
Question: Nicholas Meyer watched all the 79 original episodes before he directed The Wrath of Khan. How many of the original episodes had you seen before directing the film?
JJ Abrams: I saw most of the original episodes. I watched a lot of them with my kids and they loved it so much more than I every thought they would and were scared to death! It was so cool to see these episodes through the eyes of a seven or eight year old.
But I want to speak for a moment about Nicholas Meyer, who was an amazing director and writer, and was friends with my parents when I was a kid. When I was a kid, among the other embarrassing things I would do, and there is a list of stupid things, I would make these dumb comedy tapes. I would often make prank phone calls and would do it with friends and Greg Grunberg and I would make countless moronic comedy tapes. I vividly remember one night though when Nicholas Meyer was over for dinner. He came into my room, and I was maybe nine or ten, and he and I made a tape together, and it was some stupid interview tape, where he and I were playing characters interviewing each other. He was just this guy who was willing to be silly and goofy and I knew he was a writer, but I didn’t know much about him. And the idea that he would later go on to direct a Star Trek movie and that even later I would is so weird to me. Years later he came to my bar mitzvah and he gave me the unabridged annotated Sherlock Holmes, which I still have. It is just bizarre to me, because I was such a fan of the films he did, and really that was the height of my Star Trek fandom. I saw the first film, but when his films came out I just loved him. I always felt a kinship because I knew that guy and it was just sort of surreal to be in those shoes and getting to say action.
COMING UP NEXT: Bob and Alex + first impressions
Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman were also at the event, look for a report on their Q&A shortly. Later we will have some first impressions from the demo of the Star Trek Blu-ray.
Look for more coverage on the Star Trek home video releases coming November 17th. You can pre-order your copy or copies below.
|Star Trek 2009||3-disk set
3-disk set w/ replica
3-disk set w/ badges