Watch: JJ Abrams Talks Into Darkness Villain + Says Movie Not Made Just For Trek Fans

Star Trek Into Darkness director JJ Abrams isn’t spilling all the beans but he did a video interview where he talked a bit about the villain in his new film and his motivation. He also talked about how (like with his 2009 movie) his focus was to make Star Trek Into Darkness work with all movie fans and not just Trek fans. Excerpts and video below (minor spoilers).


JJ Abrams talks Star Trek Into Darkness

Talking to MTV about Star Trek Into Darkness, director JJ Abrams says that the film is being made for movie fans, but if you are a Star Trek fan there "definately nods to prior Trek lore in the film." While some fans may bristle at his comments, this is exactly the same kind of description Abrams gave to his 2009 Star Trek film.

Abrams was also asked about the character of John Harrison (Bendict Cumberbatch) but he wouldn’t respond to whether it was related to the TOS background character Harrison. Abrams did say…

"The whole thing, not just his backstory, but his agenda, his plan, his secret, all that is what, for me at least, makes him such a frightening and cool villain," Abrams said. "Also, the real villains — when they’re not just two-dimensional, angry vengeful types — don’t see themselves as the bad guy. They are the good guy and have complete rationale and motivation. So true to form, the character that Benedict plays has an absolute sense of right and wrong, and he’s on the right side."

Here is the video…


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Bird Of Clay
December 12, 2012 12:56 am

“frightening and cool.”

let’s just hope we don’t get disappointed, Mr Abrams.

December 12, 2012 1:05 am

@ 1

I doubt we will be!!

Steve Johnson
December 12, 2012 1:08 am

“when they’re not just two-dimensional, angry vengeful types”

You mean like Nero, JJ?

Hey, i’m all for a movie that is a good movie for all audiences, as long as the core of Star Trek remains.

See: Wrath of Khan.

I’m actually quite interested to see Cumbie’s character is up to specifically. I liked Eric Bana, but I wasn’t big on Nero. The editing basically botched his character for me.

Someone needs to get in touch with JJ though and get him to talk to the legal department. Let the fans start making fan films and such in this rebooted universe. It’s really a shame that a couple of fan productions had to shut down or rework themselves because of the obstruction that is in place. Not to sound childish, but “it’s not fair.” :)

December 12, 2012 1:13 am

I’m honestly kinda tired of the concept of one guy being the villain in Star Trek movies. Then again, I liked the architect scene in the Matrix Reloaded, and one of my favorite things about the prime universe Trek were the scenes where people sat around long tables and discussed politics and diplomacy. Not that I’m complaining about Abrams’ Trek, just wish that we could have some vegetables with our candy.

December 12, 2012 1:15 am

“…his agenda, his plan, his SECRET…” I wonder if that secret can be kept until the film’s release. THAT will be a feat!

“I am your FATHER Luke!”

“I am your BROTHER Spock!”


December 12, 2012 1:23 am

Ya know, despite how awful TFF supposedly was, Sybok was a character with a lot of potential. I don’t see it being him, really, but it might be interesting.

Commander K
December 12, 2012 1:30 am

Anyone see the similarities of this movie/trailer to Star Trek Nemesis? The fun scene at the start which all the crew have a part to play (aka nemesis scene on the buggy). Evil villain with an English accent back for revenge..someone from (clearly) Kirks past?

December 12, 2012 1:41 am

LOL! This is like JJ interviewing himself. They look alike, JJ and Josh. Hehe. Just like the interview with Lindelof and Frosty way back when he was promoting Prometheus.

December 12, 2012 1:44 am

Sybok did have a hell of a lot of potential, and the best things about TFF were the character moments between the crew. Just the overall story was poorly fleshed out and badly executed.

December 12, 2012 1:52 am

If the movie is NOT made for Star Trek fans then why put Star Trek in the title? Ahh, I get it, you like the money of Star Trek fans. Bait & Switch.

December 12, 2012 1:58 am

This is exactly what he said when he directed the last one. The rhetoric is getting boring now.

December 12, 2012 2:03 am

Hope I am wrong but i a begining to think these new movies instead of having the ODD movie curse, will have an even movie curse..

And what was up with JJ getting annoyed by the interviewer when he asked him about Harrison?

December 12, 2012 2:06 am

I hope this is not an instance of a great opening with the Red Planet scene, and crappy jjverse retread of great classic stories.

JJ is no Nick Meyer (even though they are family friends) really JJ you should have offered the directors chair to Nick I am sure he would have taken it. or even have offered him the chance to mold the story.

I just cant get over how annoyed he comes across, when he is asked about the connections to TWOK, and then harrison in space seed.

December 12, 2012 2:09 am

And I am sorry but to flat out say “This is not a movie for TREK FANS” is BS. If he had answered by saying something to the effect of “This is a movie for Movie fans, whether you have seen star trek before or not” It wouldnt be as aggravating.

Orci, you or Kurtzman should push to direct the next one,

December 12, 2012 2:20 am

my theories : harrison is khan – scenario – a starfleet science ship discovers the botanay bay crew wakes up khan and his people – conflict ensures both groups are almost wiped out only khan and a few starfleet remain. Using either the ship’s transporters or a form of eugenics tech, khan gene splices himself with a starfleet officer – john harrison – to alter his appearance – khan still has still all his abilities but a new body and face. Khan then kills the remaining crew destroys both ships and escapes in a shuttle and sends a distress signal to any nearby ships and eventually makes it back to Earth. He takes on john harrison’s life and career forming alliances with Federation enemies and building a sleeper terrorist cell on Earth wating for the right time to strike. Remember Khan in the 23rd century is reviled as much as hitler or stalin or any other despot in history it would only take one person with a good understanding of history to realize who he was – hence the face and identity change.

Classy M
December 12, 2012 2:24 am

Any chance those of us outside the US could get access to the video, Anthony? Much obliged.

Optimistic Doodle
December 12, 2012 2:36 am

Where’s the fun in seeing a movie when you already know all it’s secrets? Better to keep us guessing until the release.

December 12, 2012 2:36 am

So John Harrison has a backstory that’s not revealed in the opening 9 minutes?


Garth Faction
December 12, 2012 2:46 am

So you never see a movie a second time, #17?

December 12, 2012 2:46 am

some of these fan suggested Khan possibilties are just as bad as the rumored Khan returns as a Hologram idea back durring TNG’s time

Nurse Gabble
December 12, 2012 2:46 am

That interview was lousy!

Not revealing anything – ok, I wouldn’t have expected otherwise.
But at least promote it!
Just saying WE have a three-dimensional villain (due to IMAX lol) is so lame. Oh and besides our villain is placed in Star Trek universe, but that is just a minor point what counts is he is frightening and cool……

oh my….

December 12, 2012 2:47 am

actually some of these khan possibilties you have been posting are WORSE than the rumored Khan hologram for TNG

December 12, 2012 2:53 am

Sucks that JJ doesnt bring back Col Worf, would be awesome to have Dorn be the TNG connection to the JJVerse

December 12, 2012 2:54 am

21 you left off, JJ in serious face saying”This movie isnt for Trek Fans”

December 12, 2012 3:03 am

Hmmmm, disappointed in JJ – fair enough in the current climate making a film that appeals to a broad audience is a wise idea but neither can you just ignore the true Trek fans who have had a vested interest in the characters, the story in fact the whole Trek universe for nearly fifty years now!

We want Trek and all that goes with it… Appeal to the fans! Oh and I’m still hoping (although I’m probably going to be disappointed) that there will be musical cues that nod to both Goldsmith and Horner – to be honest I just want the TMP/TNG overture back!

December 12, 2012 3:05 am


Seriously, he basically did say that. Stop looking to take offense.

December 12, 2012 3:07 am

#24. Rocketeer – December 12, 2012

He even went out of his way to say he didn’t make it for the fans of his first effort too.

December 12, 2012 3:10 am

@25 Actually he could ignor past trek fans, it’s a business but in context that was not what he was saying.

It’s a wonder anyone would want to make a Trek movie the way some trekkies carry on.

December 12, 2012 3:19 am

Wow this is getting so BORING.

The more they deny talking about stuff and insist on SECRETZZZ the more obvious it all gets.

Also what a waste of time that previous article with bob and kurtzman.

As I said, they’ll keep denying until some incontestable proof leaks and their effors will have been in vain.

December 12, 2012 3:21 am

Another villain… Is that all they can come up with? Is the universe full of villains who are waiting in line to attack the federation/Earth?

– Generations: Soran
– First Contact: Borg Queen (no, the Borg were not enough, they had to create a villain in the form of the queen)
– Insurrection: Ra’fu
– Nemesis: Shinzon
– Trek ’09: Nero
– Into Darkness: Harrisson

At least in the movies with the original crew they put some variety, and not always one villain:

– Motion picture: V’ger
– Wrath of Khan: Khan
– Search for Spock: Genesis/Kruge
– Voyage Home: Probe
– Final Frontier: Sybok/God
– Undiscoverd Country: high ranking officers within Starfleet

Ever since Generations (1994!) it has been one villain after the other. So much for explore strange new worlds and seek out new life and new civilizations…

Captain Hackett
December 12, 2012 3:36 am

Dammit, the video will not show here in Canada! @!&*?#$@&

December 12, 2012 3:38 am

Are there people that seriously still have doubts on who’s the villain? jfc

December 12, 2012 3:42 am

@21 I can’t stop laughing at the 3D villain due to IMAX3D. It’s so sad but it’s basically it.

December 12, 2012 3:48 am

Well JJ and his team did create one of the worst villains ever with Nero in the last film, and I hope that they redeem themselves with Cumberbatch’s villain.

This is different from the Star Trek I grew up loving but despite that I am hoping for a good film and am looking forward to it. It won’t be the best ever Trek in my eyes but it will still be a great film.

I just hope that with this team that Trek doesn’t degrade to the level of a Transformers film. With the mainstream of today this has been my greatest fear.

December 12, 2012 3:50 am

Nero was a means to an end, a way of bringing our heroes together again. He wasn’t so much a villain as he was a plot device to do what Abrams did and it worked very well indeed for that movie. With this movie it’s clear that the Villain will be the star of the show as is traditional for sequels.

This isnt just yet another villain, certainly from that minute clip, John Harrison seems to have more weight and dimension behind him than many of the villains gone by, this doesnt seem to be just yet another one name villain, not just Khan (although this may be this universes khan without actually doing Khan), not just Kruge, Sybok, Chang, Soran, Borg Queen, Ruafo, Shinzon or Nero but a relatively normal sounding name which to me makes the villain more real and relatable.

Plus Cumberbach is an incredible screen presence, he has chops to demolish everything and everyone in his path and that may be the most frightening thing, I simply cannot wait for him to go toe to toe with Chris Pine who is just as good an actor but completely different and as Kirk a young gun, shooting from the hip and somewhat inexperienced at command. It’s going to be an incredible ride.

December 12, 2012 3:52 am

Trust me. I am far from alone in thinking the 2009 movie did a great job of incorporating Trek lore and being open to all movie fans. I think JJ and team can do it again. Let’s get this party started!

December 12, 2012 4:00 am


My thoughts exactly.

/sarcasm on. Maybe movies for Trek fans would be too “boring” for new audiences if they come up with an intelligent story like the ones in TOS or TOS movies. /sarcasm off.

I do like action movies but TOS was always character/story driven. That what makes it different from merely action movies (the fact 1960’s technology couldn’t do it plus low budget were the reason that pushed the focus on it really, but gave Trek its identity).

If Cumberbatch’s villain were that good, he wouldn’t be saying those silly lines about having his vengeance. He would be doing something he believes in for the sake of his beliefs, not revenging on Kirk or anyone else.

I really hope to watch a good Star Trek movie in May, JJ. And that you stop saying things done for Star Trek fans have this negative quality on it, as if it’s a Star Trek movie made for fans it would suck.

December 12, 2012 4:06 am

31. Captain Hackett – December 12, 2012

Try clicking on the underlined MTV in the article. You probably still won’t get the vid but at least you can read more about it.

December 12, 2012 4:08 am

I can’t believe there are still people who think he’s playing Khan.


December 12, 2012 4:08 am

I would love the Trek I love to come back but unfortunately it has to be tweaked and changed in this manner to keep it alive. So much money has been spent on the movie that it has to reach beyond the hardcoore fanbase to get a hit, but we do live in an age where films like Transformers 3 is the 5th highest grossing film of all time, so that says something about the audience of today that a major Trek movie has to appeal to.

But it is still new Trek and despite the sacrifices made to the characters and vision to market it to a more dumbed down audience I think it will still be a good fun film.

Orci said that Trek was classical music and Star Wars was rock n roll and that he wanted more rock n roll in Star Trek. But I am a person who loves classical music. I like rock n roll but I still love my classical music.

George Zip
December 12, 2012 4:12 am
I guess a major nemesis/villain is required for movies; I mean, I’m all for a 2-hour roller coaster ride — and I’ll be in that movie seat first week of the release — but I do miss the stories where they had to figure it out rather than fight it out. I guess that’s the expectation many of us have when we think Trek-to-Screen. Y’know, I can’t recall which Pixar movie disc it’s on, but (in the extras/bonus) one of the writers has a great little bit about story and progression for a film; kind of “person + comfort zone, add conflict by removing comfort, etc.” and it makes most of what you see make sense if in no other way than for box office. We’re going to get a fun, great film (with a killer score; get crackin’ Michael) that I will take my kids to see and they’ll remember the same way I remember going to the big s/f & genre stuff with my Dad in the 70s (Star Wars (opening night!), Close Encounters, Star Trek, etc). And as has been said above, a movie “made for Trek fans” would likely stink. No worries. Looking forward to it. (And I think I’ll go back and watch a “Close Encounters”/”Super 8” double feature again this weekend; feeling nostalgic. And JJ, geez, you couldn’t get Richard Dreyfuss for the role of the electric co-op repair guy in “Super 8” at the junkyard? What a hell of a cameo *that* would… Read more »
December 12, 2012 4:14 am

#36. Clinton – December 12, 2012

You might think it. But apparently JJ disagrees.

“The thing about the movie that I love also is that we didn’t even make it for fans of the first movie we did.” – JJ Abrams

Garth Faction
December 12, 2012 4:25 am

People are misunderstanding JJ’s comments about not making it for the fans – he said specifically the word “only.” He said there are things in it for the fans and not just the ordinary movie-goer.

Now, I’m not fond of what JJ did in Trek2009, because it just didn’t work, but now that the prologue is done, I still say give him a chance here. And thus, when he said it is not just for fans of the 2009 movie he is talking to someone like me, who wants something better. I am not saying it will be, but… here’s hope.. there is more potential so far with this one than the last, which was all about a plot-device for the reset switch.

December 12, 2012 4:28 am

He is trying to make a movie that will increase the viewers so that they can keep on making Star trek movies.

What do you expect him to say? That you need to have seen the last film to get this one? That you need to be a trekkie to appreciate these.

Just the opposite and he would need to do as well as say that.

And yet the film is still designed to appeal to trekkies as he said.

A summery of what he said would be “This movie is for everyone”.

There is a bigger picture where everyone wins.

Some think it’s all about them.

Nurse Gabble
December 12, 2012 4:30 am

What I do belief is that this villain will be complex.
His motifs are right, but his actions are wrong.

The first thing that came to my mind after seeing the poster for STID with BC (still have problems calling him Harrison) standing to face a destroyed London skyline was a painting of Caspar David Friedrich.
It is called “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog”. The person in the painting is placed in the centre and we see him from behind.
Actually most of his paintings show the person in it from behind. It is said this is a way to identify with this person, to see the world the way he sees it, to get his point of view.

To make a long story short, I think they are putting an effort in making the audience able to relate to the villain up to a certain point when his actions go to far.

December 12, 2012 4:32 am

Not sure how you figure Nero was a bad villain.

Here are the bad villains.





Whoever the villain was in Insurrection.

Nero was fine and the greater movie going public seems to have agreed.

December 12, 2012 4:34 am

Personally I hope they never start letting themselves get bogged down with what Trek fans do on a daily basis (me included on fair occasion) and instead stick with making a good movie that can e enjoyed unless your looking for reasons to hate it.

Cant wait to see the next trailer and the film! Trying to maintain being ‘unspoiled’ apart from the trailers and other media that you cant get away from seeing.

Just over 5 months to go!

Garth Faction
December 12, 2012 4:39 am

One thing I’ve thought about the possible motivation: Klingon infiltration into Starfleet (ala Trouble with Tribbles).

What if it is a somewhat-insane Garth who finds out that the Federation is being over-run by Klingon spies, and the one who sent him away into the asylum was a Klingon agent? So his good is to save the Federation from the Klingons, but his insanity leads him to think it means he should take control, to be Lord Garth.

December 12, 2012 4:44 am

I can’t wait until someone gets this conceited knob away from Trek for good. He is poisoning this well.

December 12, 2012 4:45 am

#43. Garth Faction – December 12, 2012

His first movie had the exact same target, movie fans. If they reached that target with the first movie, who is he trying to reach with the second movie if excludes all “movie fans” who liked the first?