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JJ Abrams On Cumberbatch Fitting Into Star Trek Cast + Film Secrecy January 7, 2013

by TrekMovie.com Staff , Filed under: Abrams,Star Trek Into Darkness , trackback

Star Trek Into Darkness producer/director JJ Abrams wasn’t sure that introducing Benedict Cumberbatch into the tight-knit cast family that grew out of his first Star Trek movie was going to work, according to comments he made over the weekend at the Television Critics Association. See what JJ had to say about Cumberbatch and his penchant for secrecy below.

 

Abrams on John Harrison and ‘Into Darkness’ Secrecy

In an interview from a Television Critics Association event over the weekend, producer/director JJ Abrams talked about his various projects, including Star Trek Into Darkness. One of the more interesting bits related to the character of John Harrison, and the movie’s secrecy. Here is the exchange…

Q: Fans originally thought Benedict Cumberbatch would be playing Khan. Now that we know he’s playing John Harrison, were you thinking at the time, “Don’t worry, guys, I’ve got this. We’re not going to do what you think.”?

ABRAMS: I just can’t wait for people to see the movie. Benedict is unbelievable. It’s a tall order, coming into that movie, because the crew of the Enterprise – that cast – is so damn good and they’re wonderful to work with and they’re all good hearts. So, to come into that group, as he did, as Alice Eve did and as Peter Weller did, and be one of the family was something that I was doubtful could happen. And he completely did it. I not only love him in the movie, but I love him, as a human being. He’s an amazing guy. I can’t wait for people to see the movie and experience what he’s done.


Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison in Star Trek Into Darkness

Here is more from Abrams talking about his preference for secrecy

Q: You’ve done such a great job at maintaining the mystery and secrecy of the storylines for the projects you work on. Is that fun for you?

ABRAMS: No. It’s only fun to keep things quiet when it finally comes out as scheduled. Then, you feel like, “Oh, I didn’t just spend six months ruining the movie for people. It’s not fun during the experience of withholding because then you sound like a coy bastard and you’re being a jerk. But, what it really is about is making sure that, when you go to the movies or watch the show when it airs, you didn’t read the synopsis that came out of my fat mouth because I was answering a question that I was grateful anyone would even ask. I’d rather people experience it and learn what happens than be told what happens, and see it and have it confirmed.


JJ Abrams at TCA event January 6th

More from Abrams on Into Darkness, Mission Impossible, Fringe and other project at Collider.

 

Comments

1. Silvereyes - January 7, 2013

He totally didn’t answer that first question about Khan…

2. Emperor Mike of the Empire - January 7, 2013

Still up in the air as to weather John is Khan or Gary Mitchel or maybe a Augment. No mater what though. This will be good.

3. Phil - January 7, 2013

Oh, there are still a couple of fans out there who think BC is playing Khan, and are going through contortions to make it work…

4. Admiral Stedman - January 7, 2013

Still rooting for Peter Weller to be Gary Seven and not a random Stafleet Captain. And I get what Abrams means, the shock of Vader’s reveal in Empire or Spock’s death in TWOK in my youth having those secrets held made both films so awesome. Hope ST:ID does the same.

5. grag - January 7, 2013

It’s funny watching interviewers trying to “trick” him (not subtly) into giving things away and he just doesn’t. Good for him.

6. CAPT KRUNCH - January 7, 2013

The biggest secret…Peter Weller?????….he has his own ship is he only thing we know about him…..I can’t see him as Khan either….

7. The Last Vulcan - January 7, 2013

That Empire photo of the “pods” can’t be anything but inside the Botany Bay. So my bet now is that Weller is Khan, but in a fairly minor role. But we’ll see!

8. n1701ncc - January 7, 2013

Why does everyone keeping bringing up Khan. Get over it. Its not Khan. The movie will be out before you know it and we all will be the better for not knowing.

In the meantime you Khanazoids out there keeping watching Space Seed on Netflix and re running the Star Trek 2 DVD. Khan was not the only villian / story line worth making a movie. True Star Trek fans know there are many villians that could inspire a movie other than Khan. I still think an evil twisted Harry Mudd would have been great. Then again im not Bob O or JJ.

9. Jack - January 7, 2013

4. Except news of Spock’s death had been leaked (and had spread like crazy) well before Trek II was released. Glad you got to see it without that being spoiled for you.

10. NuFan - January 7, 2013

1

I like how he does that. The questions are getting more and more specific and he never cracks.

11. The Last Vulcan - January 7, 2013

@8. n1701ncc – Then what are all those suspended animation pods in that bay, meat lockers so that the crew of the NCC 1701 can get some nice filet mignons?

12. Alec - January 7, 2013

The fact that the character goes by the name ‘John Harrison’ doesn’t mean anything re: Khan. It can still be Khan. Perhaps, given that he’s a notorious (to put it mildly) man from Earth’s past, ‘Khan’ wants to hide his identity – at least at first. Hence, the name ‘Harrison’.

N.B., there was a Harrison in Space Seed. (Technician First Class; and only one mention. So, perhaps Khan appropriates this name either from another crewmember called Harrison or picks this name (and the pick itself is a homage for the fans.)

Everything about Harrison and what we know screams Khan. From his mental powers to his physical prowess, to his looks and costume elements, to Carol Marcus (a pretty big hint!), to the pods and the glass (!!!) scene in the trailer.

Khan is back. And…he…shall….have….his-Vengence!

13. Alec - January 7, 2013

2. Emperor Mike of the Empire – January 7, 2013

Why would you have Gary Mitchel AND Carol Marcus? They don’t go together. There would be too much exposition and no obvious dramatic link. As for Marcus and Khan, however…..

7. The Last Vulcan – January 7, 2013

The pods do clearly suggest Khan. Given that, why would the filmmakers have Cumby playing anyone else? If you’re going to use Khan, he’s going to be the no: 1 villian, not a supporting character. And we know that the filmmakers view a sequel as the perfect opportunity to test the new heroes up against the best bad guy…

14. Dennis Bailey - January 7, 2013

Khan.

15. NCM - January 7, 2013

Well said, JJ. Not sure it will redeem him to those who, understandably, wanted more details early on, but I’m in the camp that likes the experience to unfold as he describes it. I could even do with less having been revealed at this point, but it’s been fun getting everything that’s come and, while I’d been worried they’d give away too much with the first 9 minutes, I get the sense there’s lots more to come. Can’t wait!

16. Captain Archer - January 7, 2013

12. Alec
“Everything about Harrison and what we know screams Khan. From his mental powers to his physical prowess, to his looks and costume elements, to Carol Marcus (a pretty big hint!), to the pods and the glass (!!!) scene in the trailer.”

Um… When did Khan have mental powers?? And his looks and costume? Huh? What are you looking at? His looks and costume look NOTHING like Khan. And who says they are pods? Could be anything – we don’t know what they are.

Sorry buddy, No Khan in this movie. Time to admit that and move on

17. olly - January 7, 2013

Stop calling him Cumby. Be respectful of the actor. So tiresome.

18. Dunsel Report - January 7, 2013

Carol Marcus only hints at one thing, and that’s a plot device involving science.

19. EddieD - January 7, 2013

I still have to agree that JJ dodged that first question.. makes me wonder why that is.. 0.o

20. L4YERCAKE - January 7, 2013

No doubt in my mind Cumberbatch is playing Khan. I like the secrecy though, Abrams is right to keep it under wraps for as long a possible, tough a wait as it is…

21. Commodore Adams - January 7, 2013

I agree with JJ.

And Im personally amazed that I know less about this movie than the 2009 movie…..well, am I amazed? The 2009 movie was huge news, a reboot, new director, new style so I guess it was expected that so much info would get leaked. Regardless, its almost 4 months away and I do not know anything outside the trailers, synopsis, 9 minute preview, and the few photos which have not been shown in trailers like Spock fighting Harrison and Pegg and Yelchin in dress uniforms. I am damn excited, regardless of what I have seen, I sill do not know what to expect. Gonna be great!

22. Yea No Khan - January 7, 2013

Is Weller a Klingon?

23. Gary S. - January 7, 2013

I eagerly await the the first issue of the prequel comic for answers .

24. LogicalLeopard - January 7, 2013

Look, all we need to do is raise $10,000.00, go to China, and BUY the movie before it comes out. That’s what Jennifer Walters did in Ultimate Wolverine vs the Hulk, written by Damon Lindenof. Comes in a nice black briefcase.

25. TrekMadeMeWonder - January 7, 2013

Movies are not all about the surpirse moment. If so I would not have watch my favorities so many times.

This is the reason I never saw the 6th Sense.

There was soo much hype about that surprise ending, that when I found out by accident I just never saw the movie. And I never have.

26. Alec - January 7, 2013

16: Um… When did Khan have mental powers?? And his looks and costume? Huh? What are you looking at? His looks and costume look NOTHING like Khan. And who says they are pods? Could be anything – we don’t know what they are.

Khan’s intellect (which is what I was talking about) is famous. It sounds like he manipulates the others in this film, using very human mental powers. That’s how he seduced Lt. McGivers. He won’t move objects with his mind, he will move people with his ideas….

As for his looks. Every actor associated with the role, including benicio del toro looks like Khan. Plus, Cumby’s leather costume has an obvious nod to Khan with the lined collar (see trailer).

The pods contain people a la Space Seed. That, along with Marcus, the hands touching on the glass a la TWOK, the slip by Quinto, the fact that the team said they were going to have Khan as a segue from Trek 2009 to Trek 2013 by putting him in the final shots, the fact that the team have said that a sequel is all about the villain, that Khan is a much admired and the best villain…..

It’s Khan. He will reveal himself, as it were, later in the film. Perhaps after the first 30 mins.

27. BulletInTheFace - January 7, 2013

#12 wrote:
“Everything about Harrison and what we know screams Khan. From his mental powers to his physical prowess, to his looks and costume elements, to Carol Marcus (a pretty big hint!), to the pods and the glass (!!!) scene in the trailer.”

Er… no.

Harrison is obviously NOT Khan since he’s seen in the trailer walking NEXT to Khan. And no, Khan doesn’t have mental powers, nor does Cumberbath look even REMOTELY like Khan. And Carol Marcus may have been in Wrath of Khan, but she has no other connection whatsoever to Khan.

Face the truth, folks: It’s 100 percent certain that Cumberbatch is not Khan. Those of you who think otherwise are seriously deluded.

28. BulletInTheFace - January 7, 2013

#26: No. Just… no.

Benecio Del Toro does NOT look like Khan. Why? Because he’s Hispanic? Honestly, man, you can’t be serious.

29. Alec - January 7, 2013

18. Dunsel Report – January 7, 2013
Carol Marcus only hints at one thing, and that’s a plot device involving science.

Is that wishful thinking from someone who doesn’t want Khan?! If you are simply talking about ‘science’, why both with Marcus? She is linked to Genesis. Only she can do that. As for ‘science’, any character could play that role.

It’s Marcus. There’s a volcano involved. That reminds me: ‘If Stage Two was completed, it was underground — she said it was going to be underground.’

30. BulletInTheFace - January 7, 2013

“Why would you have Gary Mitchel AND Carol Marcus? They don’t go together. There would be too much exposition and no obvious dramatic link. As for Marcus and Khan, however…..”

There’s NO link between Marcus and Khan. None. There were in the same movie. That’s it.

Gary Mitchell (who also isn’t in this movie) could very easily have a link to Marcus, however, as she could very easily be the blonde lab technician Gary aimed at Kirk. There have been several comics and books that have already postulated that to be the case.

But Cumberbath is NOT Khan, and Khan does NOT have any connection to Marcus.

31. BulletInTheFace - January 7, 2013

#29: Genesis won’t be in this film. David Marcus wouldn’t even exist yet at this point.

You’re completely off-base.

32. Alec - January 7, 2013

28. BulletInTheFace – January 7, 2013

‘Harrison is obviously NOT Khan since he’s seen in the trailer walking NEXT to Khan’

Huh? Please explain that one!

Cumby is either playing Khan or there is no Khan in this film.

33. The Observer - January 7, 2013

Khan.

34. Alec - January 7, 2013

31. BulletInTheFace – January 7, 2013

There doesn’t have to be David! This is a new (just!) take on a familiar story – as this reboot is to all TOS. The story will be different; and it will focus more on Space Seed than TWOK. However, I suspect Genesis will be in this film. That, after all, is what Marcus will be working on. It will be the weapon (once perverted) that Khan wants….Otherwise, why is she and not someone, anyone else, in the film.

If Cumby is playing Gary Mitchel (sorry, guys, he isn’t) why on earth would be be going by the name John Harrison! Explain that one to me!

There would be no need or purpose in his not using his real name. As for Khan, he has a reason to want to change his name: he ruled 1/4 of the world! He was a dictator! He might not want the Feds to know about that, just yet….

35. Og - January 7, 2013

TrekMadeMeWonder

Psycho was about the surprise in its time and it’s still a great movie even when we all know the ending.

36. Alec - January 7, 2013

17. olly – January 7, 2013
Stop calling him Cumby. Be respectful of the actor. So tiresome.

Naming him ‘Cumby’ is in line with British tradition (I should know). It’s an affectionate term. If ‘Larry’ was good enough for Lord Olivier, Cumby is good enough for BC.

37. Shat-a-tat-tat - January 7, 2013

It is very possible that Harrison is the guy from Space Seed. That would make him a “canon” character. Khan could be in one of those pods. And “wake up” at the end, setting up the 3rd movie. Harrison would be involved somehow, possibly someone who is a Khan follower and awaits the right time to wake his leader.

38. Jim Nightshade - January 8, 2013

All of u sure its not khan….as ive said its khan with a jj twist…as others keep saying…the cryo pods…carol marcus…vengeance etc….its either khan but not khan….there will be some kind of khan-nection….and yeh shpock dying in trek 2 was widely known before the movie came out—even spoofing it in the movie…remember the arent you supposed to be dead line kirk said…

39. JohnRambo - January 8, 2013

John Harrison may not be Kahn, but there are clearly some “secrets” otherwise Abrams would have answered the Question.

40. ME!! - January 8, 2013

The cryopods do suggest a Khan based story, but that bay can’t be aboard the Botany Bay unless it was an area we never saw since the ship and everything aboard could not possibly have been altered in any way by Nero’s altering the timeline.

My thoughts are that the cryopods are at a Starfleet facility, that they found the Botany Bay (possibly with help from Spock-Prime who’s intention was to have warned them to avoid so many deaths including his own), they thought they could genetically modify them or psychologically reprogram them (or perhaps clone them) and use them for “special” missions, etc. And they found out they were wrong. Harrison may be the name Starfleet Medical/Starfleet Intelligence gave him.

41. ME!! - January 8, 2013

Anyone else actually notice what Harrison says in the trailer’s narration (instead of focusing on who he is or who he may be)?

“You think your world is safe….”

“your world”

“YOUR world”

Very interesting, eh?

Yes, it could be referring to his detachment from everything, but what if it’s not…what if he really is not from earth?

42. ME!! - January 8, 2013

Of course, he could be referring to their “world” as the whole Starfleet/Federation rather than the actual planet….although he IS evidently staging his attacks on earth…

43. Marshall McMellon - January 8, 2013

I’m fine with the fact that Abrams is keeping info so ‘close to the vest’ Like an earlier poster mentioned- Darth Vader’s big reveal in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ was, for me at least, one of the most jaw-droppingly intense experiences I ever had watching a movie. That happened, because I had no clue it was coming. I was literally shaking when I watched that scene and it blew my mind when DV dropped the bomb on Luke. That’s what a good movie does. :) So, if Abrams and the gang choose to reveal absolutely nothing up until the film is released. I’m cool with that.
As for the whole ‘who is John Harrison really?’ question: I’m done trying to pick it apart and I’m just going to keep an open mind about. All I really care about at this point is it’s a Star Trek film and I’ll get to go see it on my birthday. :)

44. Curious Cadet - January 8, 2013

@29. Alec,
“Is that wishful thinking from someone who doesn’t want Khan?! If you are simply talking about ‘science’, why both with Marcus? She is linked to Genesis. Only she can do that. As for ‘science’, any character could play that role.”

Talk about wishful thinking … Bob Orci tried to work Carol Marcus into ST09. So sorry … She is far more important to Kirk and Star Trek than her non-existent association with Khan. She was the mother of his only son, at least in the Prime timeline, something no other of Kirk’s romantic liaisons can claim (so far as we know). And like the Kobayashi Maru, which also had nothing to do with Khan, was an important part of Kirk’s cadet days.

http://blastr.com/2009/03/orci-kurtzman-what-famili.php

45. The Mighty Chip - January 8, 2013

@The Last Vulcan – I’m sorry, but I don’t believe those pods are in the Botany Bay. If you look in the background of that scene you’ll notice a brick wall, and I have trouble imagining a starship built out of brick (though that would admittedly be hilarious).

I’m not saying those pods have nothing to do with Khan/Augments/The Botany Bay, I’m just saying that the pods are not on any starship in any of the shots we’ve been shown so far.

46. p'trick - January 8, 2013

my natural response to Mr Abrams comments is to approve of the way he demonstrates heartfelt respect for his cast and his audience.

of course, i’ll be hoping there’s more to the film than surprises. beyond financial-rewards, any truly “successful” TREKfilm is one that can be enjoyed over and over in many years to come. obviouisly, they’ll be no surprises left to sustain interest in the film if there’s not more to the story. after, the most popular of the TREKfilms, to many, is” The Wrath Of Khan”. the villiian’s name AND his intentions are fully disclosed. lol.

given that J J & the screenwriters have such great skill at crafting engaging entertainment, i’m feeling more and more that TREK2013 will, indeed, be worth waiting so long for.

47. Bob Tompkinsc - January 8, 2013

Odd that we haven’t seen any pictures of Peter Weller in costume [or at least I don’t recall any]…
Could it be that what he wears is reminiscent of Section 31?

48. James McFadden - January 9, 2013

I think that a new 4-Season Star Trek animated series called Star Trek Final Frontier OR Star Trek Columbia should be made. It should involve starship crews from the 24th, 25th and 26th centuries AND include characters such as Agent Daniels, Captain Nero, Captain Chakotay (later Commodore Chakotay), Commander Annika Hensen, Fleet Admiral Kathryn Janeway, Ambassador Jean-Luc Picard, Rear Admiral William T. Riker, Captain Tuvok, General Worf, Ambassador Neelix, Captain Tom Paris, Commander Harry Kim, Captain Morgan Bateson, Fleet Admiral Elizabeth Shelby, Captain Alexander Chase, Commander Barric Holden etc. The theme of this show should be preventing the creation of the Alternate Reality seen in Star Trek 11 and a second Romulan War that would change the Milky Way Galaxy forever.
There can be 2 Starfleets in this show: Starfleet Command and the Federation Defense Directorate. Starfleet Command handles the UFP’s exploratory and diplomatic affairs while it’s sister organisation, the F.D.D., handles the UFP’s military affairs. More new and current explorers, destroyers, and multi-mission vessels (including ships of newer designs) could be shown in this new Star Trek CGI. Newer ship classes and weapons systems mentioned in some novels could be illustrated as CGIs in action (USS Enterprise NCC-1701-J, USS Enterprise NAR-02870, Tactical Support Flyers, Dragonfly, Imperial Mining Ship Narada, USS Atlas, USS Aventine, nadion pulse cannons, Mark-12 Phaser Cannons, Transphasic Torpedoes, double phaser strips, transphasic shields, phased cloaking, omega particles, The Vault (Romulan), Red Matter etc).
This development could also see 2 more titles such as Dogs Of War and Romulan being added to the Star Trek Fan Collective series. As a matter of fact if Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek 13 prove to be a huge success, then CBS Paramount would be able to come up with ideas and plans for 7 more Star Trek films. I’m dying to see Star Trek Into Darkness.

49. clark billy - January 9, 2013

some fans just repeat the same stuff over and over. get a LIFE !!!

50. Bucky - January 9, 2013

@24 is my favourite reference so far even if I’m the only person on the Internets who got it.

51. Jack - January 13, 2013

Why does Carol Marcus have to be connected to Khan? He wasn’t around when she and Kirk met in the original timeline?

52. Rose (as in Keachick) - January 16, 2013

Having Gary Mitchell and Carol Marcus in this movie makes more sense than Khan and Carol Marcus. In Kirk’s early years, both Gary and Carol were around – one was a friend and the other a girlfriend. This Khan fixation is preventing rational discussion even about events and characters of the Star Trek TOS series.

53. Superfan in Texas/ Gary Seven - January 29, 2013

..we KNOW that Khan’s henchmen are not immune to the Vulcan nerve pinch. I, Gary Seven, can withstand a nerve pinch and can take on 5 trained Federation personnel in close quarter combat. Only a phaser stun at point blank can take me down–looks like Uhura might use it again. Your brig cannot contain me–as I have proven in the past. I have been trained by an alien race to be superior in every way!!

Kirk was right not to trust me….I am back

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