JJ Abrams ‘Not Averse’ To More Time Travel or Cameos In Star Trek Sequel

Another day and another comment from JJ Abrams on the 2012 Star Trek sequel he is producing (and possibly directing). This time Abrams is talking about time travel and possible cameos from past Star Trek actors. Find out what he had to say below.


These excerpts actually comes from an interview that was probably conducted a few months ago and published in Wizard Magazine #217 (unearthed by TrekWeb). But since the work on the sequel is still in its infancy, it is probably still just as valid.

Time Travel again?

It seems like time travel is mandatory for the most successful Trek films. But will you veer away from that in the sequel ?

JJ Abrams: We’re just now talking about what the story is going to be and there is some very cool ideas that are out there. My instinct would be not necessarily go back to any of the same well again unless it pertains to character. But if there was some brilliant piece that involved time travel of course I wouldn’t rule it out.

However, being as the story is being developed by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof, I think it is pretty unlikely they will propose another time travel story to Abrams. Lindelof has told me that after doing a whole season of time travel on Lost and doing it with the first Trek movie, he was ‘done’ with time travel. And my interview with the writers in the April Geek Magazine had this exchange:

Time travel has been a staple of Star Trek, including many favorite movies and episodes. Did you use time travel again because it had worked in the past?

Orci: Actually the opposite. We hesitated to use time travel, because it was so used. However, it was such an important reason to use it — to have both a prequel and a sequel — to maintain canon, yet free us up. Despite its overuse, we thought ‘let’s use it one more time before we put it away, and then not use it again.’ It was also the only way to justify the level of involvement that we felt for Nimoy to be a genuinely active participant in the movie. And that was worth it and specific enough that it didn’t feel like a gimmick. So we allowed ourselves to use it to jump off.

Plus in his May Fan Q&A here at TrekMovie, Orci noted pointed out that they have stricter rules on time travel, and it is no longer a simple matter, saying:

Orci: In our Universe, as long as I am here, you can’t just slingshot around the sun

Nero and Spock needed a giant black hole- In the Abrams-verse, time travel is no longer so easy

More Cameos?

Wizard: Would you consider any more cameos from any of the other Star Trek actors from any of the other series ?

JJ Abrams: You know, I’m open to anything. But I am not going into it thinking, "Oh, okay, how do I figure out a way to create more cameo options?"

Wizard: But you are not averse to it.

JJ Abrams: No, I’m not averse to it, but the great news is that the cast of the new Star Trek has this massive burden of having to try to live up to the incredible job that the original actors did, and I think they were so good that they did it. And while the first movie would have been nearly impossible to do without Leonard Nimoy – we would have had to change the story completely – I feel like while being open to it and, like you said, not averse, I am also thrilled that we are now in a place where we don’t necessarily need to shoehorn cameos in just to appease original fans. The great thing about Nimoy, beyond his just being who he is, is that the role was not a cameo, it was a critically important character in the movie. Trying to find cameos was never an interesting thing for us. Trying to tell a decent story was the thing that we were working hard to do.

If there is a guest spot in the new movie, the one most seem to talk about is William Shatner. The actor has made it clear (as recently as last week) that he is interested, and Abrams himself has said it was his hardest decision to not have Shatner in the first film. All that being said, it is probably still a longshot. They don’t ‘need’ to do it for the fans this time, and it is unlikely for them to develop a story that needs a past Trek guest spot. Plus, without using time travel, your options get more limited. But, you never know.

Leonard Nimoy was a key to bridge the past with the new "Star Trek", but do they need to do it again?…probably not

You can read the full interview in Wizard #127.

Sort by:   newest | oldest
January 17, 2010 12:31 am

I fully agree with JJ and Robert’s approach: keep the focus on telling a great story, which is what made the first movie so successful.

January 17, 2010 12:33 am

My apologoies–“Roberto”

January 17, 2010 12:40 am

call me bob

Aussie Adam
January 17, 2010 12:45 am

I’ve often thought that hidden cameos would be cool, i.e. cameos from familar trek or other faces disguised as alien characters to the point that they are unrecogniseable but not so much that “fans” know that they’re there. What do you think Bob?

Aussie Adam
January 17, 2010 12:46 am

# not so much so that “fans” don’t know that they are there.

Paul B.
January 17, 2010 12:50 am

I wish there was a legitimate way I could pitch a story to you guys, Mr. Orci. No real expectation of having a chance in hell of selling it to you, but all the same. (And I mean a serious pitch, not fanboy wish fulfillment.)

That’s why you’ll have to launch a new Trek show someday–to open it up to more minds and more stories. (Not that yours are tapped out, by any means! At least, I hope not!)

Congratulations for your recent successes, and good luck with many more!

Buzz Cagney
January 17, 2010 12:59 am

I can live with time travel- but really don’t want any old face’s popping up. Let the new kid’s fly without that ‘safety net’. They don’t need one.

January 17, 2010 1:00 am

Bob! :)

Can’t wait for next movie.

Hugh Hoyland
January 17, 2010 1:14 am

3. boborci – January 17, 2010
call me bob

You are the actual Bob Orci?

Hugh Hoyland
January 17, 2010 1:19 am

I have a non-fanboy story that will make Avatar look like the wizard of Oz. Will post it later.

U.S.S. Manila NCC-99232
January 17, 2010 1:23 am

Star Trek will suck again if they use time travel over and over again.

U.S.S. Manila NCC-99232
January 17, 2010 1:24 am

Still, no offense about that.

January 17, 2010 1:27 am

I can’t see any problem with using familiar cast members but perhaps using William Shatner and creating what would almost certainly be a time travel piece would just repeat a formulae that the film has already used. Using a situation or villian already seen in the original series however would be a good way to go perhaps? I for one have seen the new film over and over and I’d just like to say to the writers that they made me feel like a kid going to see Star Wars for the first time and that goes for a lot of my Non Trek friends also. In this new universe perhaps the mystery and spectacle of science fiction and Trek would be a nice idea! VGER on RedBull perhaps but essentialy , the story of seeking out the unknown!! Well done team for not being afraid to break the constraints of the established universe, and giving us above all a great Classic movie!!

Harry Ballz
January 17, 2010 1:29 am


even though the window of opportunity to use Shatner is closing fast, I really don’t think you need him in the next movie. The new cast is more than capable of carrying the torch forward. Nobody wants to see an old evil Kirk from the Mirror Universe, or an older version of Pine played by Shatner (gross). Shatner would probably demand a substantial role and paycheque, neither being required for box office popularity. The Shat started to parody his own image many years ago, thereby relinquishing any believabilty in wearing a Starfleet uniform. His involvement in the next film would “pull us” out of any realistic tone you are trying to set. Just because you have an opportunity to do something doesn’t mean you should. Shatner sold out years ago….no need for you to do the same.

Let it, and him, go!

Jeffrey S. Nelson
January 17, 2010 2:13 am

Bob… Shatner’s not getting any younger. Please don’t overlook the opportunity to use him once again. He looks far younger than his years, but could lose some poundage for sure. But once once he’s gone, he’s gone.
J.J. … I’d love to see some Trek guest stars from years gone by. Morgan Woodward as Captain Tracy, for one! It’s just too bad Robert Lansing has passed on and can’t return as Gary Seven. But, what about Gary Lockwood as Gary Mitchell? Or Sally Kellerman as Dr. Elizabeth Dehner??

January 17, 2010 2:31 am

I’m kinda bummed that JJ decided to throw out the standing time travel rules from previous Star Trek. Still its good to see him keeping an open mind for the next…as long as that open mind doesnt include putting Khan in there.

January 17, 2010 2:35 am

Tell a good story and the next movie will be just as good as the first, if not better. No need for shatner. If you put some Nimoy in for the second movie showing him on the new Vulcan colony that would be awsome….

January 17, 2010 2:36 am

I actually think it would be cool to have Khan in the sequel, but set it up in such a way that he is introduced inside of another story/crisis that Kirk and company are dealing with, and have the situation result in Kirk and Khan having to team up in an unlikely and uneasy alliance to resolve the crisis.

Hugh Hoyland
January 17, 2010 2:59 am

Having Khan in the story could work very well. IMO the sequel should focus on the visual aspect in the way Avatar has. Not to say the visuals of Star Trek were not good, they were VERY good. But Avatar has raised the bar big time. It shows that story is secondary to what the viewer sees. Keep in mind Im not saying the story doesnt matter, but as far as Sci-Fi goes in motion pictures, FX goes a long way. They dont have to come up with a story as indepth as 2001 to make this a succesful movie. Just add on to what they did in the first.

Alf, in pog form
January 17, 2010 3:12 am

William Shatner selling pies on a vid-screen in the background would be a good cameo…

January 17, 2010 3:16 am

That’s funny all this talk about Khan and cameos. I’m not conservative in all Trek matters. I’ll be very happy if the team gives me something new, fresh and unexpected.

and 20.

If Bob and his friends come up a story as indepth as 2001 with the energy that filled the previous movie, I’d be very happy too!

Hugh Hoyland
January 17, 2010 3:29 am

22, if they put out a product that has the visuals = to Avatar, and also a story on par with 2001, they will be putting out a Sci-Fi Masterpiece by any standard lol

January 17, 2010 3:31 am


Energetic 2001, now that I gotta see!
But I do agree with you, a race against time against the unknown…


January 17, 2010 3:49 am

21, lol.

But seriously.

I don’t see how or why to put Shat in the movie. I like the new cast and it’s all about them.

There are other ways to show resect for TOS and I suspect the production team will keep the suprises coming.

David B
January 17, 2010 3:58 am

Try to get William Shatner in if possible as others have stated he won’t live forever.

Also get Scott Bakula to reprise his role as Admiral Archer AND GET HIS DOG BACK!

January 17, 2010 3:59 am

Everybody line up in rows.
I’m standing in the row that says NO to time travel; NO to cameos;YES to “just-tell-a-good-story”.
And you’re right #20. AVATAR has caused all “A-grade” sci-fi movies to kick their FX up to the next level. A 3-D and IMAXed STAR TREK would be awesome.

And pleeease JJ,O&K, DO NOT bring back the holodeck! Make starships HAVE TO GO planet-side for shore-leave,R&R,resupply,etc…
It got irritating (IMO) how much TNG & Voyager used the holodeck. It was like “why even go to outer space?!? Just build a Cinemax holodeck on Earth & never come out.”

January 17, 2010 4:13 am

Can we get rid of Scotty’s little sidekick too please? Just a wee too much of the Lucas curse for me! “Meesa givings all meesa can Captain! ”

I think Pegg can carry enough of the humour without the space clam!

January 17, 2010 4:49 am

“Orci: In our Universe, as long as I am here, you can’t just slingshot around the sun”

The next guy will be like “In our universe, as long as I am here, they won’t be able to beam or fly faster than light.”

January 17, 2010 5:05 am

Shatner : NO! His overdemanding stuff about being in the sequel is just heavy. It was yet the case for ST11 and he hasn’t even watched it!

Scott Bakula : YES! (I’ve just seen the episode “Twilight”, and that’s just WOAH!) Because Scott wants too being in the movie, he wants more Archer and to my point of view, Archer deserves to be more developped than Kirk Prime. We even haven’t heard his speech for the future Federation in the “finale”! Almost everyone talks about Shatner wanting to be in ST12, but no one talks about Scott Bakula (except Trekmovie!!!!) Scott Bakula for ST12!!!!!!! I want Archer and Porthos back!

Leonard Nimoy : YES! One of the reasons I loved ST11. Among a lot of bad stuff.

January 17, 2010 5:36 am

New sci fi ideas would be awesome, exploring realms (micro/macro worlds), existence, ancient aliens, phenomenons, afterlife/souls, space mysteries, planetary collisions, alignments, new technologies/relics, explanations to extinctions of dinosaurs, new alien race/planet, moral dilemmas (greed/exploitation, good of the many greater than good of the one), End of time/expansion/collapse of the universe. Friend/Foe becoming enemy, ie Khan deep multi dimensional villian that is smarter than our heroes and yet is flawed/tragic story (exploration vs expansion/conquer)

That’s my wish list.

Captain Kathryn
January 17, 2010 5:37 am

#28 YETI- I agree. That little guy really gave me the creeps. They need to dislodge him. Yech!

Anthony Thompson
January 17, 2010 5:43 am

It seems to me that the writer was pushing those ideas (personal agenda) and that JJ was responding politely. My prediction: no time travel and no cameos. And, I HOPE, no Khan!

January 17, 2010 5:46 am


Would be funny to see them do time travel with cameos and Khan eh? lol

Captain Kathryn
January 17, 2010 5:47 am

I don’t that Porthos is the orignial beagel dog who was ‘lost in space’ that Scotty was not able to bring back. Beings their lifespan is only about 15 years and considering Captain Archer is now Admiral Archer, not sure what the star date difference is, but I am certain that this is a different dog. Still it would be nice, now that Scotty has invented transporting at warp speedthat it is the universe that is moving, to get him back!

January 17, 2010 5:48 am

I don’t want Shatner in the next cinema movie but i would love to see a yearly telemovie set in TNG era with changes that have taken place due to the altered timeline.

In that timeline it could be assumed that Kirk is still alive and is once more called upon to team up with Picard to save the universe.

With a decent story that would not only be a huge ratings winner it would also provide many fans with the sense of fulfillment that they have craved since the senseless death of Kirk in Generations.

Captain Kathryn
January 17, 2010 5:50 am

Being that the other Star Trek show (Enterprise, Generation, Voyager) all were able to explore unique adventures without a lot of repeat characters, it would be fun for JJ to find a new adventure for these young explorers!

Buzz Cagney
January 17, 2010 5:54 am

#30 You don’t want Shatner but do want Bakula? It is indeed a strange old world that we live in.
Bakula would not add one extra person- apart from you- to the box office. And no, I don’t want Bill either.

Captain Kathryn
January 17, 2010 5:54 am

YEs, I think bringing back Admiral Archer would be such a plus. At first it was hard to really get into his character, but over the years he developed in such an impending force of a true character for the star trek series. HE matured and demanded the respect that was due him. Put him in the next movie and plese bring the dog back!

January 17, 2010 6:05 am

Lets ignore Enterprise and all the other shows and pretend they never happened and only reference TOS and TNG please.

Anthony Lewis
January 17, 2010 6:15 am

@29 — I think Bob has said that because as a theory for time travel, it’s pretty baseless and out dated. In the 60’s and through the 80’s maybe that was still a topic of discussion but i don’t think it is any longer.

I highly doubt they anyone will ever removed matter energy transpot or warp speed as both are not only seen plausible theories in science but also things that may be possible in the distant future. If memory serves the ship doesn’t really fly faster than light, the engines warp space around the ship (essentially moving space around the ship and not moving the ship through space).

Captain Kathryn
January 17, 2010 6:15 am

Actually Enterprise really grew on me. I did not like Xindi thing with the giant Insectoids. They really gave me the creeps. But the episodes that were interwoven with the Suliban, and yes, Time Travel also, and with Shren. I also really thought the last show dealing with Gen. holodeck , and how Archer helped with the Federation of Planets form, was really well written. But as an original Trekkie, it was hard for me to really get into these other shows. But the more you watch, the more you begin to understand the characters & realize that not everything revolves around Kirk and Spock. Things change, even in space. The thing I liked about Voyger, is that it was during the same time as Generations’ Enterprise was exploring the Alpha quadrant, which brings up that point, in the episode where they are sending a signal to the Delta quadrant.

Anthony Lewis
January 17, 2010 6:18 am

@40 They probably will. ENT is the only remaining bit of history left intact in the new universe as those events took place before the Narada caused a split creating the before mentioned new universe.

January 17, 2010 6:19 am

Please, no time travel and no crossovers.

I’m sure that’s the direction they’re going (standing on their own feet) so I’m not terribly worried.

Craig Keith
January 17, 2010 6:22 am

40# Id rather not forgrt ds9 or voyager on even enterpise cus they are canon , and events nin that universe led to romulas sun blowing thus nero going back in time and kicking the shit into the kelvin

i would love to see adrmal archer , he had soo much more to give , and had soo much less screen time then shatner , who if he was in the movie it would be a cameo , and if it was any more , he would end up taking half the movies budget.

and the tourch has been passed …. pine is now kirk … leave it at that

January 17, 2010 6:30 am

Could they somehow use time travel bringing Kirk into the new Universe without effecting Kirk saving Veriden III? Maybe save him right before he dies and revive him in the new Universe? This way you could use that scene in Generations with Picard and Kirk after Kirk falls down that cliff.

January 17, 2010 6:33 am

I think, as JJ is cornered and asked “Trek” questions endlessly, he’s not going to rule anything out, especially at this early stage. If the story’s worth telling as a “Trek” story, tell it.

As Harry mentioned up top, however, the new crew is now proven, and the elder statesmen are no longer necessary beyond an ‘aww shucks!’ cameo.

Bring in Gary Lockwood as a Starfleet Admiral or Robert Picardo as a doctor for a laugh, but leave the Bridge and the main story alone for new ideas.

Dr. Image
January 17, 2010 6:35 am

If you’re going to use Shat, DO IT SOON.
You’re running out of time…. (the sad truth.)
One more thing-
Keep Keenser!!!!!!

January 17, 2010 6:55 am

Well , enough is enough with time travel.

Bob and Alex have pressed the reset button ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reset_button_technique ) in trek once and for the last time already. Theirs no more time traveling… trust me. They need to develop the characters instead !

January 17, 2010 7:00 am

I love Shatner but I don’t want to see him in the next film. Too much time and story would have to be devoted to him and that would lessen the opportunies for the news cast AND would be a bump in the road along the path through the new timeline/universe.

Also, as much as I loved ST’09, I’d like the next film to be different. Please, no time travel, no villain seeking revenge and no original TOS actor cameos. Go boldly. If Keenser going to be there, make him a bit bada$$, not just ugly/cutesy. Give us awe, wonder and exploration. And a better engineering section.