The first day of Mission: New York kicked off on the main stage with a wonderful Deep Space Nine cast reunion. The boys of Enterprise had the crowd bursting with laughter over their antics and stories from the set. However, the highlight of the day was a short question and answer session with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan writer/director Nicholas Meyer, who shared stories of the film’s production before debuting his director’s cut in 4K UHD.
Nicholas Meyer was his usual erudite self as he took the stage for a brief question and answer session before unveiling the 4K UHD version of his director’s cut of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and concluding the first day of Star Trek Mission: New York.
When asked what his reaction was when Star Trek: Discovery executive producer and showrunner Bryan Fuller had asked him to join the new show as a writer and consulting producer, Meyer stated that he was very surprised that Fuller had asked him to return to Star Trek. Despite Fuller recently confirming that Meyer had written the second part of DSC’s pilot episode, Meyer describes himself as “a cog in the wheel,” making it clear that DSC is Fuller’s show.
Meyer recounted a frequently-told story of how he was approached to direct the second Star Trek feature only months before it was due in theatres. Executive producer Harve Bennett had approached him to direct, but also raised several concerns with the script. Meyer, having only directed one film before The Wrath of Khan, explained that the production team had 12 days to finalize the script before visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic would have to move onto another project. He decided to perform the rewrites himself, but declined a writing credit on the final film. Meyer claimed that the vast majority of the film was his work, with five lines or so contributed by Harve Bennett. He recounted that, when telling this story during the recording of commentary for the first DVD release of Star Trek II, Paramount feared its inclusion because the Writer’s Guild of America could claim Meyer was not credited or compensated for his contribution. Meyer joked that, because of this fiasco, commentaries now carry the caveat about opinions expressed in commentaries not reflecting those of the studio.
Commenting on directing William Shatner, Meyer noted that he discovered a formula during the filming of Star Trek II that brought out Shatner’s best. Meyer would make Shatner rehearse and reshoot scenes until many of his signature mannerisms dropped away. He felt that Shatner’s performance improved with the more takes he did, and the director/writer believed that The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country were Shatner’s best work.
Speaking more esoterically as an artist, he pointed out that artists lose all proprietary ownership over their work once a film is released. Meyer feels that art is a dictatorship and that his role is not to find out what the audience wants, but to get the audience to understand what he wants. Nonetheless, he did not believe it was up to him to interpret a film for us. Using the fact that Khan wore a single glove in Star Trek II as an example, Meyer said he had no answer for why that was the case. Instead, he was more interested in why the audience felt that was the case. Meyer is surprised by the staying power The Wrath of Khan had and the affection audiences feel toward it to this day.
Revisiting the day he shot Spock’s iconic death scene, he noted that the entire crew had sobbed. Meyer, with dry eyes, recalled that it was his job not to weep for characters, but to get the audience to react. He laughed at Leonard Nimoy’s recollection, which was recounted in Nimoy’s memoir I Am Spock, that the director allegedly dressed as Sherlock Holmes for the filming of Spock’s death scene. Meyer noted that this was the funny thing about subjective recollection, as he recalled dressing in a three-piece suit that day for something else—certainly not sporting the legendary detective’s signature deerstalker.
Recollecting on his relationship with Ricardo Montalban, Meyer fondly recalled that the two had become close during the filming of The Wrath of Khan. He actually did not spend much time discussing the film with Montalban when the veteran actor was cast to reprise his role as Khan. The two had one meeting where Meyer left a copy of Moby Dick for Montalban to fully understand Khan’s motivation in the film. Meyer was surprised when filming Montalban’s first scene where he interrogates Chekov and Captain Terrell inside the Botany Bay. He hit every mark and line, but screamed them. Meyer was bewildered that an actor with such an impressive resume as Montalban failed to understand how to approach Khan. During a conversation that solidified their friendship, Montalban revealed that he loved to take direction. Meyer convinced him that Khan, as a revenge-obsessed madman, need not yell. Instead, Montalban needed to act with the calmness and control that epitomized his memorable performance in the film.
He mentioned that his vision for the film was largely intact, save for some last-minute reshoots and edits. Meyer laughed and said that he won in the end, as he inserted the scenes that were cut back into the film for the director’s edition.
Deep Space Nine
The cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine were the first to take the stage with Nana Visitor, Cirroc Lofton, Armin Shimmerman, Michael Dorn, Terry Farrell, and Rene Auberjonois appearing together. The cast were in fine spirits as they fielded questions from Jordan Hoffman ranging from their advice for actors joining Star Trek: Discovery to where they would have liked to see their characters go in a notional eighth season.
Shimmerman recounted a disturbing series of interactions with fans that he felt proved that the Ferengi are the race that lives in our society, but are so different that no one can understand them. Shimmerman recalled that when he spoke with an American fan, Ferengis were compared to Jews. When he spoke to an English fan, Ferengis were compared to Irish. And when he spoke to an Australian fan, Ferengis were compared to the Chinese.
Close friends Shimmerman and Auberjonois noted that, due to their common stage backgrounds, the two would often get together on the weekends to rehearse their famous scenes of banter.
Farrell and Dorn revealed they had a hand in the direction of Dax and Worf’s eventual romance, purposely flirting with one another during their first scene in “The Way of the Warrior” as Dax and Kira emerged from the holosuite and met Worf for the first time. Farrell and Dorn both attributed their chemistry to the fact that they had previously worked together before DS9 and were close friends.
The cast was then asked by TrekMovie about showrunner Ira Steven Behr’s upcoming DS9 documentary where he assembled the show’s writing staff to break the story for the first episode of a nominal eighth season. Specifically, we wanted to know how the cast wanted to see their characters progress.
Auberjonois joked that he wanted to emerge from “that great goo” looking like Chris Pine. Farrell wanted Worf to clone Jadzia so she could “steal the worm back from Ezri and the couple could still be together. Shimmerman felt that, throughout the whole series, Quark was the ship. Everybody came to his bar because it was the center of everything, whether in times of peace or war. He wanted to see Quark continue to be the center. Visitor noted that in novels that have picked up where DS9 left off, Kira became a Vedek. Visitor wanted absolutely nothing to do with that. She wanted Colonel Kira to be commanding her own ship.
Finally, a fan asked the cast why they thought DS9 was viewed as a show that was not essentially Star Trek. Shimmerman poignantly stated that, “Starships are not Star Trek. Hope is Star Trek.” Lofton noted that Star Trek was always about exploration, whether that be the universe, exploring a character, or yourself.
The cast of Star Trek: Enterprise was in rare form as John Billingsley, Connor Trinneer, Dominic Keating, and Anthony Montgomery rounded out the day in the most jovial of fashion. You can tell that these guys love being around one another, and they told us a great tale of a prank they pulled on Scott Bakula.
When Bakula was breaking into show business, he did a commercial for Canada Dry, which the cast found to be particularly hilarious. One day on the set, the cast teamed up with the crew to have Bakula’s Canada Dry commercial play on every single monitor on the bridge. In addition, the cast broke out a dance to the tune of the Canada Dry advertisement. In their defense, they did comment on Bakula’s amazing singing ability.
We present said commercial below for your viewing pleasure.
TrekMovie will be back tomorrow with coverage of Mission: New York Day 2. Highlights will include: The Next Generation cast reunion and a much anticipated Star Trek: Discovery panel.
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