Post-STID interviews with Kurtzman and Abrams

With the recent release of Star Trek Into Darkness on home video, members of the production team have been out doing interviews. While we hear from J.J. Abrams and Roberto Orci quite a bit, Orci’s writing partner Alex Kurtzman tends to be quieter, so in a bit of a rarity, Blastr has some interesting remarks from Kurtzman on the writing of Into Darkness. J.J. Abrams was also out for interviews recently, talking to Comic Book Resources about Khan’s blood and his mystery box paradigm.

Kurtzman on writing Into Darkness and the future


Kurtzman on the Kirk/Spock death scene:

It’s one of, if not the most iconic scenes ever in Trek canon, knowing that we were going to be heading to that place but for totally different reasons and having the roles be completely reversed was this weird magnet we were drawn toward as we were writing. We knew we had to make that moment credible and believable. What made it work for us conceptually was the idea that Spock was unable to understand for the whole movie Kirk’s definition of friendship. He didn’t know what it meant. What Kirk was saying was ‘The reason that I risked my life for you is because you’re my friend, and that’s what you do for each other.’ Spock’s Vulcan mind just wasn’t able to process that, and it wasn’t until he experienced the loss of his friend that he finally came to understand what friendship meant as Kirk was defining it.

Kurtzman on what’s next for the crew of the Enterprise:

It’s overwhelming and daunting, because every time we think we’ve narrowed down a passageway, we come out the other side and realize there are two trillion more out there. You want to choose the right ones. But we always imagined that we were creating an alternate timeline so we could play in harmony with canon. We can see things that were familiar, but also the events themselves might have minor differences, and sometimes major differences. I think that leaves us room to go either way and be unpredictable, which is the whole point of creating an alternate timeline. At the end of the day, because we give so much thought to what the stories are going to be and how to tell them, it’s ultimately about what feels right. Certainly our ears are open to what fans are saying about the show, the movies and our movies, so that all goes into the stew.

Read the full interview over at Blastr


Abrams on Khan’s magic blood and his mystery box


On Khan as the villain:

I think the thing was that Khan really is the most iconic villain of the series, and it felt like an opportunity to see another side of Khan and to something that, like the first film did, use elements that people were familiar with but in a new. It’s a valid argument that it’s about time for them to go off and discover and see things that have nothing to do with what we’ve seen before, and I think we’ll always have some overlap. But I’m excited about the next chapter.

On Khan’s blood saving Kirk:

Well, it’s funny – we had this idea in the beginning of the film of this girl who is sort of being brought back into good health as a means of coercing her father to do something horrific, and it was sitting there. And we knew we wanted to do something that was going to kind of push Kirk to a limit where he was tested in a way he never had been before where he really had to appreciate the kind of chair that he was sitting in. And it ended up just coming out of realizing that we had this thing that was sitting there that was already set up in the movie.

On “The Mystery Box”:

…the mystery box thing for me is less of an approach to storytelling than it’s something I just feel [which is] you don’t want to ruin things. So it wasn’t like, “Hey, let’s make it a big mystery!” We just didn’t want to tell everyone what they were going to see before they saw it. It was simpler. So if people wish they had known beforehand, OK, I totally get it. But we just were trying to preserve the experience. But it’s not like we saved it until the end of the movie where there was a big, final, shocking reveal. This was something that was revealed by the middle of the movie to the audience.

Read the rest of the interview at Comic Book Resources

Sort by:   newest | oldest
September 30, 2013 2:22 pm

So that Karl, Pegg and now Kurtzman and Abrams that have all mentioned seeing something totally new for Trek 3. Interesting to see how it pans out.

September 30, 2013 2:23 pm

Khan is the most “iconic” villain, so let’s completely change the way he looks, sounds, and acts as to render him unrecognizeable.

September 30, 2013 2:25 pm


September 30, 2013 2:26 pm


September 30, 2013 2:26 pm

I really hope they don’t overuse plot elements of the original timeline again in the third movie. I think it was overkill in STID. As soon as Spock yelled, “KHHHHAAAANNNNNN!!!”, it took me right out of the story, w/ a groan.

September 30, 2013 2:28 pm

” John Harrison was a fiction *CREATED THE MOMENT I WAS AWOKEN*….


Dunno why nobody mentions this bit of dialogue more often…

It can be implied from this that his entire identity was changed to keep him a secret.

September 30, 2013 2:38 pm

@2 – Yes, they should have dug up Montalbán and reanimated him.

After all they’ve done that in other films. Cesar Romero and Heath Ledger are so much alike.

The Keeper
September 30, 2013 2:39 pm

No doubt we will once again “Go Boldly Where We Need Not Go”
I would assume Orci is lurching about here and other website’s gaining insight on what “We” the Fan would like to see…and some how he’ll extrapolate that we the “Fans” want the Khan vs. the Klingons vs. the Federation or some combination of said again.

Forget about seeking out “new life forms” or “new civilizations’, they will with out fail choose exactly the opposite of what we the FANS have been bantering about for months and even years prior to the joke Into Darkness.

I am sure we will get a healthy amount of lies promises and explanations with a good amount of Orci telling us fans to “F” off.
Another shining and telling moment of the current total disregard of a most beloved franchise….but I assume Paramount is most proud of that a long as there’s a cash flow.

You guys do realize that these movies are still reliant on a huge fan following to keep them in the green?

Harry Ballz
September 30, 2013 2:54 pm

After seeing Star Trek 2009 I came to trust Orci and Kurtzman in how they were writing for the franchise.

I was so deeply disappointed by the storyline of Star Trek Into Darkness.

I suspect it was because Damon Lindelof stuck his nose into the writing of the screenplay.

The story is so muddled, convoluted and just plain stupid….it has Lindelof’s fingerprints all over it!

Please dump him from any further “assistance” when writing the third installment.

September 30, 2013 3:02 pm

Loved both movies, but looking forward to something fresh and different. I’d like to see something completely new with only minor references to established canon.

September 30, 2013 3:02 pm


Harry, I’m no fan of STID either, but I don’t think you can blame it all on Lindelof. The 2009 movie had its share of convoluted and stupid bits as well. But look on the bright side, man. At least we didn’t have to see swollen Kirk hands again!

September 30, 2013 3:14 pm

5 Explodin’, Yeah, the KHAAANN! shout was unnecessary. Yelling “NOOOooo!” (the same way Spock shouted it in ST09 before he tried to kill Kirk) would have made a perfect “circle” in the story arcs of Spock and Kirk.

September 30, 2013 3:34 pm

9, Harry, I keep wondering if Orci was “taking the hit” for Lindelof when he said “don’t blame the big, bad studios, blame us writers” … but then, Lindelof was one of the writers … and I suspect Lindelof was the one who suggested “OOOH! I know! Have Spock yell ‘KHAAAN!’ just like Kirk did in TWOK! Neat parallel, amirite?”

10 Platitude, I SECOND THAT. A whole lot.

P Technobabble
September 30, 2013 3:48 pm

Perhaps (and I’m willing to be trampled) the next film needs to take a cue from TMP. While that movie had its own set of problems it was attempting to take us on that “sci-fi mystery” that Orci is suggesting. And if you want to go one step deeper, TMP was taking its cue from 2001. Now there’s a movie to aspire to. I think 2001 is still the greatest, ACTUAL sci-fi movie ever made. The next Trek movie would do well to emulate (not copy or rip-off or steal from) 2001. IMO if you want to make a real adventure into the unknowns of space, 2001 is the model. IMO, of course…

September 30, 2013 3:48 pm


You surely cannot be comparing casting for the original Sat Trek with the original Batman series………really?
You missed out the missing link there………Jack Nicholson?

Anyway, if am not mistaken Benicio Del Toro was first chosen for the role? He was nearer Montalban? I don’t know why he was dropped, but as much as I am a fan of Cumberbatch, I think Del Toro would have fit the link better, neither being Asian, but neither obvious caucasion.

Spock/Uhura Admirer
September 30, 2013 4:03 pm

” 5. Xplodin_Nacelle – September 30, 2013
I really hope they don’t overuse plot elements of the original timeline again in the third movie. I think it was overkill in STID. As soon as Spock yelled, “KHHHHAAAANNNNNN!!!”, it took me right out of the story, w/ a groan.”

Same here. That scene killed the rest of the movie to me, and it’s not like I was thoroughly enjoying myself up to that point. I had to stop myself from being like “WTF?” out loud.

I have no idea what they plan on doing with the story or what they’ll do with the team, but please (if you all are reading) get Spock/Uhura right, both as a couple and individually. I really do think their characters (and the actor/actress) deserve it after STID…

Gary 8.5
September 30, 2013 4:08 pm

Khan is the most iconic villain in Trek,
So lets get the best actor possible.
And they did.

September 30, 2013 4:11 pm

“But we always imagined that we were creating an alternate timeline so we could play in harmony with canon. We can see things that were familiar, but also the events themselves might have minor differences, and sometimes major differences.”

Reminds me of a Mad Men episode where Don Draper critiques an ad idea: “Derivative, but with a twist. Just what we were looking for.”

September 30, 2013 4:17 pm

According to Abrams he wants to make a Star Wars movie that one has to take into account what has preceded it, what worked, what didn’t. He is also quoted as stating, with Star Trek it was harder because I wasn’t a Star Trek fan; I didn’t have the same emotional feeling, and I didn’t have Gene Roddenberry to go to.

However Abrams could have asked what fans felt. The majority of fans did not want a Khan villain, thats what all poles indicated on this site. Instead we got really bad remake of Wrath of Khan. I doubt my comments will pas the ‘moderator’ but I do hope for the powers in charge to take into account what the majority fans want to see. A story Roddenberry would appreciate, an optimistic future view and strong interaction between the 3 principal characters, Kirk, Spock and McCoy!

Gary 8.5
September 30, 2013 4:38 pm

Abrams might not have asked us directly,
But Bob Orci did andhas been doing so for years .
About two weeks ago, Bob asked us what we wanted to see in the next Trek film.
True, it is not Abrams , But Bob has been writing these films with Alex.
It is not enough that he comes here all of the time ?

September 30, 2013 5:01 pm

There were things I liked about STID. And I give the team kudos for cleaning some things up that some fans complained about Star Trek (2009) for (i.e. the engine room, the window/viewscreen on the bridge, Scotty as a serious character, etc.). But the magic blood, I just kept get on that. No mention of it ever before with Khan. And I agree, Spock screaming Khan took me out of the moment. I was almost buying the scene and they did that. They had to take the extra step and ruin everything. I swear, even Abrams thought it was over the top, because there was a very quick cutaway to the next scene.

For the next film, lets see something completely original. A species with no Star Trek history. It seems like they were setting up a Klingon war. Please, no. If the team feels the need to do a Klingon war, save that for a 4th film.

I keep plugging Gene DeWeese’s 1987 Chain of Attack novel as a great basis for a movie (no I am not related to DeWeese). That was the one novel that always stood out for me, the one novel that I always thought more than any other would make a fantastic movie. And the best part, most of it occurs after the Enterprise is flung to a faraway galaxy, so Earth is not involved. (If you haven’t read it, read it, I guarantee you’ll enjoy it).

The Keeper
September 30, 2013 5:31 pm

Well this pretty much says it all:

September 30, 2013 5:34 pm

15 eprom, “neither being Asian, but neither obvious caucasion.”

I still find it hilarious that they wanted to cast another Hispanic as Khan Noonien Singh.

September 30, 2013 5:37 pm

20, Gary, Nahh, it’s not enough, some folks apparently want story approval before the writers go to script ;)

September 30, 2013 5:38 pm

18 BRF, a brilliant DDraper quote … I think it applies to aspects of both films. But not the entirety of either.

That One Guy
September 30, 2013 5:53 pm

Really… you gave thought to the stories? Why do I find that difficult to believe….

Gene L. Coon was a U. S. Marine. Stand at ease.
September 30, 2013 6:07 pm

If we agree with the position that the Spock death scene from Wrath of Khan is possibly the most iconic scene in the history of Trek (I hate the word “canon” as it applies to Trek), then its corollary in Star Wars would probably be the Vader “I am your father” scene from Empire Strikes Back.

Ask yourself this: Would JJ ever dare put a rewritten version of that scene into his new SW movie? Flip it around? Play with it at all? I highly doubt it.

I understand that SW is simply continuing on into the future, and not doing contortions to “reboot” itself, but it seems to me that there would be pitchforks and torches broken out if that moment was messed with.

That Trek doesn’t get the same respect for its own history is bothersome. I also have read that Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford (who should be making Indy 5 first anyway) and even Carrie Fisher are being told to hit the gym and get ready to be in the next SW. But we can’t get a Shatner cameo. I’d even take Koenig, Nichols, and Takei.

September 30, 2013 6:12 pm

“I think that leaves us room to go either way and be unpredictable, which is the whole point of creating an alternate timeline.”


I thought the point of an alternate timeline was to create all-new adventures using the same beloved characters; to give them a 2nd lease on life. Not to simply revisit and remake iconic moments from better ST movies and episodes. Such a waste.

It’s as though Khan and Klingons are the limits of the writer’s collective imaginations. You’d think they were just reading and copying the Star Trek Encyclopedia and got stuck in the ‘K’ section.

September 30, 2013 6:19 pm


“Khan is the most “iconic” villain, so let’s completely change the way he looks, sounds, and acts as to render him unrecognizeable.”


They didn’t even make his abilities (let alone appearance) remotely consistent with anything we knew of the character (he’s somehow even stronger and now has ‘super blood’ as well… WTF??). And rather than being the swaggering, egotistical despot we saw in both TOS and TWOK, he is now just Jason Bourne on steroids.

I love Cumberbatch and his Sherlock is one of my favorite shows, but they really handicapped him casting him in a role he was so ill-cast in (reminded me of Tom Cruise as Lestat in “Interview With The Vampire”; a good actor in the wrong role). Cumberbatch gave it his all, but the character (on the page at least) is just not Khan Noonian Singh at ALL.

They can keep calling him that, but it doesn’t make it so.

Emperor Mike of the Alternate Empire
September 30, 2013 6:28 pm

Star Trek Into darkness was and is the only Star Trek Movie did not see at the theater more then once. Heck i even saw Star Trek 5 3 times. Still as they say. Even Bad Trek is good Trek.

September 30, 2013 6:40 pm

@ 9. Harry Ballz – September 30, 2013

“I suspect it was because Damon Lindelof stuck his nose into the writing of the screenplay.

The story is so muddled, convoluted and just plain stupid….it has Lindelof’s fingerprints all over it!

Please dump him from any further “assistance” when writing the third installment.”

Totally agree with you there. I liked ST09, it was fresh & fun to watch, sure it has some issues but I enjoyed it & watch it couple times a year.

STID, not so & Damon Lindelof is the one that I blame for that. I’m glad that he is not coming back for the 3rd movie & I hope he will stay as far away as possible from Star Trek.

Crewman Darnell
September 30, 2013 6:44 pm

With much regret, I can relate the same as #30 (Emperor Mike) above.
STID is the only Trek film I’ve ever seen just once in the theaters. Also, I have no desire to own the DVD. I do honestly hope to feel differently about the 3rd movie but at this point, I’m compelled to keep my expectations in check.

September 30, 2013 6:45 pm
@ 9 Harry, I don’t agree with your assessment of Star Trek Into Darkness. Complaints I had about Star Trek 2009 were addressed. Primarily that the 2009 movie was Star Trek lite. STID had ideas something that Gene Roddenberry wanted for in Star Trek. Ideas like the Prime Directive, war, the war on terror, death and friendship. STID was riveting. I gave the movie an A grade. As for Damon Lindelof, I’m with you. I’m not a fan. The big reason. Lost;, Season Six. Lindelof was show runner and writer. You want plot holes? The castaways detonate a nuclear bomb point blank and survive. The castaways create a contrived sideways world where they can find each other. Huh? This was done to extend the series one more year. And the show was no longer science fiction but new age religion. Okay. But have some ballz. You got characters saying “nameste.” If the show had hints of Indian religions then do a show that strongly reflects that religion Don’t end it with some sappy ending that looks like something from Sunday school that won’t offend the Christians. . Oh and the show invited you to think about the mysteries but didn’t answer many of them. At the end of the Lindelof’s movie Prometheus, when it ends without a freaking ending. I yelled this. ‘Daaaaaaaaamon!!!” Okay, some blame has to go to director Ridley Scott. But what if there is no sequel? You have questions and they didn’t answer them. I gave… Read more »
September 30, 2013 6:52 pm

Loved the lens flares. Cumberbatch was excellent as Khan. Khan is a product of a labaratory. He could be any race and still be named Khan. He was just as cunning, egotistical, and despotic as the original. I like the Kirk, Spock, Uhura relationship. Movies at the end of the day are about making money. The problem with the past movies is that only they only brought in the fans and that led to empty theaters unfortunately. I feel changing the storyline but still sticking to certain aspects of the basic idea of Star Trek brought in plenty of new fans and helped a ressurect a franchise that was dead to the big screen. I like the idea of reimagining the old episodes but hopefully the next movie will be something more original.

September 30, 2013 7:03 pm


lol, okay, keep drinking the Kool-Aid

September 30, 2013 7:09 pm

# 10 Platitude – agree, loved both movies, 1st more than 2nd, but do hope something more original.

I felt in STID it was difficult to get close to any characters for all the action in the movie.

I do love the fact that casual viewers of Trek that I know said they were really surprised to see Kirk die. I loved it when my brother in law was saying “Does he (Kirk) really die? He can’t die, this is a prequel right?” He kept trying to get more info a couple of more times but I wouldn’t give him any clues of course. lol

All in all it was a very good stand alone movie and I think I need to watch it again. :)

September 30, 2013 7:11 pm
I liked STiD! I liked it a lot. More than 2009 (for which I still have major issues)! That is not to say there were elements/flaws I did not like (the submarine Enterprise, for example, or a transporter that can beam someone safely from Earth to Qo’noS. Where is the need for starships then?). Other quibbles: Shuttlecrafts that cannot resist the heat from a volcano? Hmmmm… the heat from re-entry surely is no less. Illogical! What did I like? Just about everything else. Does it bother me that Khan looked and sounded British? Not really? I don’t believe it was said anywhere that Khan was from Asia (and think about it, does Montalban sound even vaguely Asian? No. No, he does not–I have served in Kuwait and in Afghanistan and there is no one there I met that sounded remotely like the Khan we grew up with). For those who insist that Khan was Asian, I believe, are relying more on non-canon stories than what was firmly established in “Space Seed” or “THoK.” Personally, I think this film was exciting. The friendship dynamics between Spock, McCoy and Kirk seems to be coalescing nicely (though I still am not a fan of putting Uhura’s character more front and center… at least not until after the K-S-M triad more firmly solidifies). I was very moved when Kirk faced his “father figure’s death. And when Spock felt the pain of Kirk’s death. Is the film perfect? Hardly. Show me a TREK film that… Read more »
September 30, 2013 7:15 pm

I agree @ #6!!! They could have altered him completely to be unrecognizable! makes complete sense with 23rd century medical procedures. If you can alter a Human to appear Klingon, Suliban, Romulan, etc. then why not make a Sikh Indian appear Caucasian to hide his true identity? Khan lives in another form!!!

Chain of Command
September 30, 2013 7:17 pm

I have watched STID on Blu Ray several times since it came out and I do enjoy it. But, yes, “Star Trek” really needs to get back to being more than just an “event movie”.

Commodore Adams
September 30, 2013 7:22 pm

@20. Gary 8.5 Hear hear!

We are extremely fortunate to have Bob Orci converse with us on Trekmovie. Just 10 years ago it would not have been fathomable, hollywood have contact with Star Trek fans via blog site, ha.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Just be grateful that Star Trek is still around. These new movies are not what we are used to but it will ensure Star Trek’s continuation, that’s enough to make me smile.
It’s going to be a toss up for the next movie, either a continuation of the larger Klingon conflict talked about or move beyond that (it was only a minor skirmish) to the Enterprise crew doing some real exploring. Lets see what these 23rd century Neil Armstrong, Jacques Cartier, and William Clarks’ can do!

Flim Flam
September 30, 2013 7:41 pm

Bring n the Klingons, brother!

Spock/Uhura Admirer
September 30, 2013 8:09 pm

#36 MC1Doug

“though I still am not a fan of putting Uhura’s character more front and center… “

Well then you got exactly what you wanted with STID then. She was hardly featured at all, and in my view a definite downgrade from ST09 (and it’s not like she’s heavily featured in that one at all). I read a number of reviews from respected critics to casual viewers that thought she (and S/U) should have been treated better. And I do hope that’s what happens in the next film…

Avenger 45
September 30, 2013 8:34 pm

#8 The Keeper must be having a bad life.

September 30, 2013 8:35 pm


“I don’t believe it was said anywhere that Khan was from Asia”


In TOS’ “Space Seed” it was established that Khan Noonien Singh was from “the Northern India area” according to ship’s historian (and future Mrs. Khan) Marla McGivers. Northern India is heavily Sikh (and Khan is a common surname there as well). My Indian friend I saw the movie with was a bit confused by the name Khan Noonian Singh; she told me the mixing of those names (Hindu & Muslim) would be as geographically confusing as Bubba Ho-Tep.

Khan’s turban (in Marla’s painting) and clothes were also suggestive (if not accurate) of a Sikh (except for his lack of beard; most Sikh males don’t shave).

Granted, Montalban doesn’t sound very Indian (at all, in fact), but that was a handicap of ’60s television; when you had Italian actors playing Native Americans or caucasians in swarthy makeup playing Middle Easterners. And since Montalban was so memorable, his return in TWOK was a given really…

But I was a bit surprised to see such blatant white-wash casting in the 21st century feature film such as STID. In the ’60s it was the norm, but today it’s not quite so common. Especially when there is a HUGE talent pool in the Bollywood movie industry.

September 30, 2013 8:43 pm
I am record by saying that I liked both ST’09 and STiD, and have seen those films repeatedly. My problem is that the writers and producers are playing it safe, particularly when white-washing Khan…or even have Khan in the film. However, in though I have plenty of ideas of how the last two films should have gone, what’s done is done. Time to move forward for the 50th anniversary, third film. And what should be done for that third film? Personally, I don’t mind the Klingon War concept per se, but it should serve as a background to the main story. Maybe, the first act starts with a scene similar to the TOS episode ‘The Enterprise Incident’, where Kirk and crew come away with stealing a secret weapon from the Klingons. And then, we get to the main story. I would work in Prime Kirk in the midst. Maybe, we see an older Kirk being interviewed about an incident during his first 5-Year mission for his memoir, told in a manner similar to what was done in the DS9 episode ‘The Visitor’, but without the need to have a time teavel element included. The movie would end with a semi-reunion with the TOS cast, and a toast. By no mean would this mean no more new NuTrek movies, but this be in keeping with celebrating 50 years of Star Trek. A bonus would be having cameos of previous actors appear, though not necessarily in their previous roles, but it would… Read more »
Li'l Shat
September 30, 2013 8:55 pm

I have liked both films. I liked Star Trek 09 immediately due to its being fresh and new. STID took more time to grow on me and although it has many flaws, it’s still a fun and thoughtful movie to enjoy.

However, I wish the writers had planned out a three movie story arc from the beginning which would have led Kirk from cadet to captain in a natural, believable way. Perhaps the first movie could have shown his rise from the academy to an ensign, the second his rise to first officer, and the third his taking the captain’s chair. Simultaneously, all the other characters fall into their relative and familiar roles. The third movie ends with the start of the five year mission, Kirk confidently and cockily in command, and then a new TV series showing a new, modern take on the five year mission. Hopefully actually lasting five years.

Hey, I can dream can’t I?

September 30, 2013 9:14 pm

We need something Original- they have ended the last 2 movies promising;

“to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before”

They had better deliver unless they defer it to a series & deliver that after the 3rd film.

The comics seem to be covering a Klingon/Romulan war so maybe that’s not what the 3rd film will be about?

September 30, 2013 9:24 pm

#7: That was an entirely invalid comparison. Ledger and Romero didn’t play the same guy–there’s no connection between the old TV show and the new movies. Montalban and Cumberbatch, however, DID play the same guy.

September 30, 2013 9:25 pm

#17: Khan is definitely NOT the most iconic villain in Star Trek. That’s a fiction created by the Abrams team.

September 30, 2013 9:27 pm

#37: You need to re-watch “Space Seed.” He was identified as being from northern India.

Hence, he was from Asia.