Star Trek producer/director may a big Hollywood mogul, but he is still a nerd at heart. Case in point comes from two reports (confirmed by TrekMovie) on people he personally reached out to for roles in the Trek sequel. Abrams successfully got Nolan North (voice of the hero in the "Uncharted" games) into the film and tried (but visas couldn’t be worked out in time) to get Norwegian chess grand master Magnus Carlsen too.
JJ Abrams puts ‘Uncharted’ game actor into Star Trek sequel + tried to get #1 ranked chess grandmaster
Nolan North, Nathan Drake in the "Uncharted" series of video games, has a cameo in JJ Abrams Star Trek sequel. North tells Eurogamer that it was director JJ Abrams who made it happen, noting:
“The reason I did that movie – it’s a very small role – but it’s because he and his son are huge fans of Uncharted. I met him doing some work on Super 8 and he said ‘We’re doing Star Trek, you wanna do it?’ And I said I’d love to." "He’s a huge fan of gaming and he was telling me how people just don’t understand [the medium] yet, but they’re going to catch up.
JJ Abrams is well known as a big fan of gaming, so it is no surprise he finds talent there. In fact, Abrams’ long-time collaboration with composer (now Oscar-winner) Michael Giacchino began with his love of Giacchino’s music in the Medal of Honor games, leading to an offer to do the music for Alias (Giacchino’s first big non-gaming job).
To get a look at North, here he is in a video "unboxing" promo for the collector’s edition of "Uncharted 3: Drake’s Fortune."
Another person Abrams wanted in the movie was 21-year-ol Norweigan chess grand master Magnus Carlsen, who is currently the number one ranked chess player in the world. In April, Carlsen was being interviewed on Norweigan television (via ChessBase) and revealed that Abrams reached out to him after "becoming fascinated" following his appearance on the CBS news show 60 Minutes. According to Carlesn, who also does some modeling, Abrams wanted him to play a "chess player from the future" in the Star Trek sequel, however the deal fell through because a work permit couldn’t be arranged in time. The young grand master tells VGN "The inquiry was completely unexpected. It would have been a fun experience, so it’s a shame that it will not happen."
Carlsen did still do a tour in the USA in April. The video below features Carlsen visiting with (known Trek fan) Stephen Colbert.
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
Flashback: Abrams gives inspirational professor dream job in Star Trek
This isn’t the first time Abrams reached out to offer roles to people that inspire him. Back in 2008 JJ gave a part to the Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch. Like many, Abrams was inspired by the late professors "Last Lecutre" series, which he gave after learning he was terminally ill.
Pausch was a life-long Star Trek fan who made references to the series in his teaching. For the movie he played a crewmember on the USS Kelvin who even got a line ("Captain, we have visual"). Unfortunately he passed away only a few months after filming. Here is a clip of Pausch in 2009’s Star Trek.