The Star Trek: Discovery writer sat down with us to discuss his hopes for the new series, how his past Trek adventures will influence the new show, and more.
TREKMOVIE: What are your personal hopes for Star Trek: Discovery?
NICK MEYER: I hope it’s a success. That’s my first hope. I hope it perpetuates the Star Trek condition of helping people see themselves, making us able to contemplate dilemmas that otherwise we might be too close to judge without prejudice. I thought that was the series’ strength – by taking hot button issues, renaming them and setting them someplace else, that we could think about ourselves and how we want to be. I hope the new series contributes to that tradition, that would be a good thing.
TM: Your Star Trek has been a more intimate character examination, i.e. Kirk’s journey in Star Trek II and Kirk and Spock questioning their continued relevance in Star Trek VI. Is this continued examination of a character’s journey the way you see yourself writing Discovery?
NM: That’s the only way I can really relate to Star Trek anyway. I’m not a science fiction fan, I didn’t watch the show as a kid – I didn’t get it. It’s only to the degree to which I understand the earthbound human aspects of the stories that I can create or relate to them. I used to read these stories by C.S. Forrester growing up about Captain Hornblower. I thought, “Star Trek is Captain Hornblower, and I can do this,” just change the name to some alien species.
TM: This is your fourth trip to “the final frontier,” what brought you back this time?
NM: Well, I’m sure they offered me money…
TM: You’re not doing it for free?
NM: I don’t carry a pen with me in case I accidentally write something for free. Dr. [Samuel] Johnson said, “a man is a blockhead who writes for any reason other than money.” I was very flattered, I was enormously flattered to be invited back as a sort of an eminence grise, which is sort of what I am, or have become, even though I don’t feel very grise and then I look at the color of my hair and I go, “you’ve turned quite grise.” So the eminence was maybe a fantasy, but here I am.
TM: Reflecting on the three Star Trek movies you have written and two you have filmed, do you look at them differently today?
NK : I like to think that the best of my stuff was built to last. You can look at Time After Time today and it does not look like an old movie; it seems very timely, pertinent, intelligent – the story is still, to my way of thinking, as captivating. On the other hand, when I look at Star Trek VI, I am self conscious about things in that movie, which strike me, they might not strike other people, as sort of awkward. There’s a certain smug quality to Kirk looking at the conspirators and saying “some people can be very frightened of change.” But look what change has gotten us, is the world we live in now an improvement over eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with the Soviet Union? As terrifying as that was, nobody was flying jet planes into the World Trade Tower, running around with atom bombs in suitcases or whatever is coming next.
Also, when I look at Spock doing the Vulcan mind meld with Valeris, it kind of reminds me of waterboarding. I’m thinking, would I really do it that way now? So looking back, this has really aged strangely. I don’t think Khan has aged, I don’t think Time After Time has aged. I think Elegy, The Human Stain (well, The Human Stain I give a B+) but Elegy is I think a terrific film, and Somersby.
TM: You mentioned in your book, A View from the Bridge, how you were hesitant to take on The Day After, but saw it as a challenge.
NK: Everyone was hesitant to take it on.
TM: Years later, Ronald Reagan said that it was why …
NK: … He signed the treaty with Gorbachev. It may be the most worthwhile thing I’ve gotten to do with my existence so far.
TM: Is there anything that you have written that is on the shelf that you would still like to see made into a film?
NK:There are far more projects that I’ve written, that I would love to see made, that haven’t been made, than the ones that have been made. I think most of my best stuff is not filmed; The Crook Factory, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, The White Company, Washington, Powerbroker – it’s a pretty long list.
I think the kind of writing that I do is arguably out of fashion. I don’t do the exploding car; my version of a swashbuckling movie is The White Company for sure.
TrekMovie would like to thank Mr. Meyer for taking time out of his busy schedule of both personal and professional projects to speak with us.