Lindelof Hints There Is More To Cumberbatch’s John Harrison

The identity of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Star Trek Into Darkness villain has been an obsession for fans and the media – even before he was cast. Speculation didn’t stop when his character finally got a name and in a new interview, co-writer/producer Damon Lindelof is fueling the speculation fire even more.  


Lindelof hints John Harrison is just a cover

Officially Benedict Cumberbatch’s villain in Star Trek Into Darkness has been identified as John Harrison, a "terrorist" from "within Starfleet." But that hasn’t stopped speculation that there is more to him than that. And in an interview with the LA Times, co-writer/producer Damon Lindelof seems to confirm there is more to the character, even joking "“Benedict doesn’t even know who he’s playing.” More seriously, Lindelof explained why they are being tight-lipped about Harrison….

“The audience needs to have the same experience that the crew is having,” Lindelof explained. “You’re Kirk, you’re Spock, you’re McCoy, so if they don’t know who the bad guy is going to be in the movie, then you shouldn’t know. It’s not just keeping the secret for secrecy’s sake. It’s not giving the audience information that the characters don’t have.”

Lindelof went on to say he is going to great lengths to keep the secret, even from collaborators on other secret projects.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s John Harrison faces Chris Pine as Kirk in "Star Trek Into Darkness"

The writer also talked about how there is even more pressure in the sequel to find a way to make their new movie fit in with Star Trek’s history, telling the LA Times…

“If anything, we’ve become more terrified,” he said. “We kind of got it right the first time, [we thought], ‘Let’s really not screw it up this time.’ You really have to honor the 40-plus years of canon and legacy that this amazing franchise had before we put pen to paper.”

For more from Lindelof, read the full interview at the LA Times Hero Complex.


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March 12, 2013 3:17 pm

He’s a Transformer?

The Great Bird Lives
March 12, 2013 3:20 pm


March 12, 2013 3:20 pm

KIRK: Who are you?

HARRISON: I’m Batman. Tell all your friends.

Trek Fan
March 12, 2013 3:27 pm

3. BatlethInTheGroin


March 12, 2013 3:28 pm

I’m liking this talk better.

I am back on the “go see it at the movies” side.

Now if you guys could deliver on a TOS Conn’y.

Curious cadet
March 12, 2013 3:30 pm

“It’s not just keeping the secret for secrecy’s sake. It’s not giving the audience information that the characters don’t have.”

That’s BS. The characters in ST09 had no idea who Nero was or what he was up to. Yet the audience went in knowing everything about him thanks to the Countdown comic.

If lindelof thinks they got the first movie right, then why hide the identity of the villain from us this time?

March 12, 2013 3:31 pm

Good going here, Bad Robot. We, the audience, should DEFINITELY not know anything more about this John Harrison person than our Kirk, Spock, McCoy and all the other fine Enterprise crew.

March 12, 2013 3:32 pm

#6 – We know his identity – John Harrison!

March 12, 2013 3:33 pm

Sorry Great Bird, Still Don’t think its Khan.

I really think Khan will be saved for the closing Abrams produced film

March 12, 2013 3:41 pm

He’s really Robin

Dee - lvs moon surface
March 12, 2013 3:54 pm

These days Damon Lindelof seems more interested in Justin Bieber’s hat…

;-) :-)

The Last Vulcan
March 12, 2013 4:03 pm

Damon is pretty good at keeping secrets… he managed to keep the entire plot of Lost from the audience, even after the final ep! ;)

I keeeeeeeed! (Ok, not a total keeeeeeeed) :)

March 12, 2013 4:04 pm

I got it.
It`s (young) Stephen Hawking traveling in time (through wormhole) and something went wrong, I don`t know what yet, and he is now the bad guy…

Steve Johnson
March 12, 2013 4:11 pm

It’s about not letting the audience have information the characters don’t?

That’s called screen writing 101. There are many tools available to a writer to keep the audience and the main characters on the same page. We know John Harrison is the generator of much destruction in the movie the moment the story opens. We’re already ahead of the characters in that regard. So this is silly. If you were really afraid of the audience knowing more than the characters, we wouldn’t even know his name.

March 12, 2013 4:11 pm

He’s spock’s mother – regenerated.

March 12, 2013 4:16 pm

I think Harrison is this person. I know he was supposed to be George Kirk but they changed it to his friend named Johnny. Maybe they went back and remembered that scene and based John Harrison on him. Maybe Kirk forgot about his childhood friend? Doesn’t he look like a young Cumberbatch? He was played by actor Spencer Daniels.

March 12, 2013 4:22 pm

This is the point where we’re all better off pulling back from any spoilers and info, they’re doing such a great great job keeping this movie’s story a mystery, the trailers alone have been stupendous (just like 2009) especially in light of how it seems almost every trailer nowadays shows you the whole movie and loses its secrets and mystery.

Bravo to all of you involved and thank you!

March 12, 2013 4:23 pm

Someone tell JJ & Company that the trinity is Kirk, Spock, & McCoy. It isn’t Uhura, Kirk & Spock. That sista gets way too much screen time.

March 12, 2013 4:23 pm

They are hiding the identify because the villain is controversial, did not need bad press from whining vhs trekkies imo.

March 12, 2013 4:31 pm

Well, Lindelof is certainly an expert at making sure the audience doesn’t fully understand what’s going on.

March 12, 2013 4:38 pm

I feel that Abrams has made a film called Star Trek rather than a Star Trek film but I really hope Lindelof is right, I hope the film honours what we love about Trek.

My attitude is I hope for a great film but fear Abrams will have jettisoned too much of Trek to fit in with his preferred vision.

Either way as a movie on its own right, it looks good. I do find myself more excited for season 3 of TNG on blu ray at the moment than the new movie and even I am questioning why am I more looking forward to seeing a show I have seen before looking better than ever than a new Star Trek movie?

Gary S
March 12, 2013 4:38 pm

Was Damon Involved with ST09?
In this interview he was talking about keeping the secrets of STID.

March 12, 2013 4:42 pm


Well if his writing of Prometheus is anything to go by I agree.

Can’t comment on Lost, lost interest too soon and heard it got full of crap towards the end

March 12, 2013 4:44 pm


Your comment made me vomit.

March 12, 2013 4:48 pm

I love Uhura as a character, but making more of her at the expense of screen-time for McCoy is just wrong.

March 12, 2013 4:51 pm

Movie is not out yet, how do we know she has more screen time than McCoy?

March 12, 2013 4:54 pm

We are spoiled to have that many talented actors and actresses in one movie, I don’t envy bob and crew for trying to give everyone lines and screen time.

March 12, 2013 4:54 pm

“You’re Kirk, you’re Spock, you’re McCoy”? That sounds encouraging. I hope he’s not speaking in generalizations. Maybe McCoy will get a bit of storyline this time?

March 12, 2013 4:55 pm

It would be cool if theres a cliffhanger at the end of this film revealing who jhon harrison really is or something like that. like prometheus

The Great Bird Lives
March 12, 2013 4:58 pm

This movie will deal with eugenics. It’s pro’s, and con’s, and how humanity deals with it in the future. Khan is an obvious choice for villain in this story. In ‘Space Seed’ we learned that Khan was extremely bitter with Earth for having forced him into exile. And now that he’s been revived in Kirks century, he has become an integral player in a faction of Genetic misfits, and now swears to have his vengeance on the complacent, frail humans of the Earth.

March 12, 2013 4:58 pm

So there’s more going than meets the eye? That’s been obvious from the start. I think most of us realise that. Can’ t wait to see the expression on Kirk’s face when Harrison’s true identity is revealed.

March 12, 2013 5:00 pm

It’s a good strategy, look at empires strikes back when it was revealed who Darth Vador was…sometimes you need big surprises and secrets in film with twitter and the internets, movie magic seems gone.

March 12, 2013 5:01 pm

My friend disagrees but I felt Uhura was ruined in the last film, she was made too bitchy and domineering over Spock.

She might have been right in pushing him to get on the Enterprise but Zoe Saldana assinated the character of Uhura for me and made me almost not like the new version of a character that I love in TOS.

Anonymous Coward
March 12, 2013 5:02 pm

Good story telling does not particularly depend on surprises for the audience (give or take a ‘6th Sense’, of course- but even then…).

I already feel like I have seen about 75% of the movie already. Apart from the reason Harrison is doing this, what else do you need to know about the story?
Considering that JJ and the rest have jettisoned most of ST lore and not really rebuilt the universe to any degree, I suspect why Harrison is doing this will not be all that compelling.

‘I feel that Abrams has made a film called Star Trek rather than a Star Trek film but I really hope Lindelof is right, I hope the film honours what we love about Trek.’

How right you are.

Tox Utaht
March 12, 2013 5:06 pm

No Khan. Just a Khan-nextion.

March 12, 2013 5:07 pm


The original Uhura would have said, thank you Cmdr Spock for assigning me to the Feragut, how boring.

New Uhura felt she earned her position on the Enterprise and would not stand for the fact that she lost out simply because she is dating Spock. Makes sense to me.

John from Cincinnati
March 12, 2013 5:15 pm

Why did Cumberbatch dye his hair black for the role?

March 12, 2013 5:16 pm


To go into Darkness

March 12, 2013 5:17 pm

@33: Interesting point. To you she’s both bitchy and domineering! Great! That’s exactly how I feel about feminism. Yes, they use their charms domineeringly but when it comes to PC they sue you over neglecting equal rights. They call you “sexist” while still being fully aware of their ultimate power over you. Yeah, those females who are attrictive are quite grateful towards destiny for enabeling them with sheer unlimited powers. But as soon they get a little bit older, they’ll accuse you of abusing their bodily charms.

As far as “John Harrison” is concerned: of course there’s more to his character. He’s either Khan or another fampus TOS villain and we’ve known that from the beginning. I told you so. Others have told you so ever since. It’s ST:ID… ID stands for identity. It’s all a game of fake identity.

March 12, 2013 5:24 pm

All I know is from day 1, I asked for Klingons and Khan, Qo’Nos, Hand to Hand Combat (Krav Maga), JJ reimagined Bird of Prey, More Future Earth, loss of gravity on ship floating around trying to their jobs, moon, mars, more space jumps, something along the lines of departed, inception, indiana jones, bigger scope, more epic sauce.

I wanted another crew to find Khan years earlier and have in Intergrated into Star Fleet and have Kirk go on a man hunt for him lol

I think they nailed it for me :)

March 12, 2013 5:26 pm

30 Nothing we have seen officially released givves any indication that is the case.

March 12, 2013 5:29 pm

And he wasn’t bitter in space speed/. the bitterness comes latter on and not towards earth, but to Kirk and the enterprise crew.

March 12, 2013 5:31 pm

New Khan can be bitter if he was revived by another crew and integrated into Star Fleet as part of a elite force seal team and made promises never kept by April or Marcus

March 12, 2013 5:41 pm

Way back before the script to this movie was written, when Bob was taking requests, I chimed in and said I’d like the type of ending for the movie that Shutter Island had. This was at the time that Shutter Island was new in theaters.

That is to say, the kind of ending where not until the VERY end do we learn something that turns everything that we thought before that moment on its head.

Hopefully I got my wish! I love O. Henry endings.

March 12, 2013 5:48 pm

I remember linking boborci, anunaki videos from youtube and was happy to see it appear on Prometheus ie cave maps and gods and happy to see boborci use Niberu as planet x ;) boboci is a cool cat he knows how to wink at me lol these little nods nice way of saying, why thank you somethoughts internet poster on!

It be epic to watch sequel with boborci etc!

March 12, 2013 5:48 pm

The ipman fight scenes also! go boborci!

March 12, 2013 5:49 pm
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with women per se, it’ s so-called “femists” I despise. Women want equality…check! There is nothing that speaks against! But what feminists want is more… total control! Full stop! Yeah, women should be equally paid. They should have the same rights and opportunities every man has got! I’m not questioning any of these righteous goals. But you can’t be “bitchy” (submissive) and “domineering” (using PC against you) at the same time! Women had always the advantage of being the fair(er) gender. And they’re equally picky when it comes to outward appeareance as men are. But now, the game has changed. As long as they earn money from being sexy and mesmerizing, everything seems okay. But if these charms stop to work, they are abusing PC to achieve their goal of being nearly intouchable, just as if they were a minority worthy of being protected from evil society. Now we’ve got women’s officers, female quota in business and so on. And just while child-bearing is reaching an ultimate low, they’re screaming for the banishment of any kind of sexualisation, counteracting sexual liberation that actually helped them in finding their legs in society, Sorry, but that’s not the kind of equality I used to support. Women are naturaly superior in a multitude of ways. They’re dominant in their own kind of way and while there is even not the slightest question about them having equal roghts and opportunities – which I totally support… Read more »
March 12, 2013 5:54 pm

legit cause, not case

March 12, 2013 5:57 pm


Like that feminist lawyer on the Simpsons! god she gets on my nerves lol

March 12, 2013 5:58 pm


Oh, you sound delightful.