Interview: Bryan Singer On Trek

At the Saturn Awards this week Bryan Singer picked up awards for Best Director and Best Fantasy Film for Superman Returns. After the show I had a chance to talk Trek with him about his love for Star Trek. Singer said that he is looking forward to Trek XI and thinks JJ Abrams is ‘brilliant’. He said that even though he had ‘bandied about’ some ideas for Trek himself, he never had the time to commit to it. Famous for spending over $200 million on Superman Returns, Singer did note concerns over Paramount giving Abrams enough money ‘to do it right’ and felt that he would ‘go north of $100 Million’ if it were his. The director also revealed how he ended up getting a cameo in Star Trek Nemesis and what it was like to meet some of Trek’s biggest stars, including a surprise guest at Patrick Stewart’s house.

Interview with Bryan Singer

(NOTE: Sandy Stone of StarTrek.com joined me, and asked some questions himself)

TrekMovie.com: It is well known you are a huge Star Trek fan

Bryan Singer: I am

TrekMovie.com: Can you talk to us about your proposal for a new Star Trek?

Singer: I could not…I think it’s being done…JJ Abrams is doing one

TrekMovie.com: Didn’t you have an idea?

Singer: We bandied about an idea, but that’s a full commitment. I have not been able to afford to give that commitment. JJ Abrams is brilliant and I hope his version gets made and I look forward to seeing it.

TrekMovie.com: So what do you think about returning to The Original Series and recasting those characters…it is kind of similar to Superman Returns in a way.

Singer: Well it is a bit earlier right? Well I love it. I love those characters. I don’t know whether you tried to imitate them whether you try and create a new [inaudible]. I don’t know what you try to do. Anything is cool as long as you do it well. To me it is never a premise thing, it is always an executional thing. I love Star Trek especially The Original Series because of the stories the writing and the acting, believe it or not!. I thought it was tremendous and done with great conviction and that is an execution thing.

TrekMovie.com: Well if this becomes a new franchise, just like with the X-Men franchise with new people coming in, how would you feel about coming in again if they make a XII, XIII, XIV,…

Singer: Oh another picture? It depends. If I like where they are going sure I can see myself sitting on the bridge of the Enterprise…AGAIN. I had a cameo in the last Star Trek movie. I wouldn’t mind playing in that world again.

Sandy Stone:: Why did you do a cameo in Star Trek Nemesis?

Singer: Because Rick Berman and Patrick Stewart asked me to. I am such a fan, how could I pass that up?

Sandy Stone:: Did you have a relationship with Rick Berman before?

Singer: No. I had met him before because my friend Gary Goddard designed the Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas and I went to their opening and I met him. But it wasn’t until I started working with Patrick Stewart that I got to know the whole Star Trek family and Rick and everyone. It was interesting, Patrick said to me ‘once you do this cameo, as small as it is, you are going to be part of that Star Trek lexicon. And no one will ever be able to take that away from you and I thought that was intense. There is a little trading card with my face on it and I am a DVD extra.

TrekMovie.com: Were you a fan of TNG like you were the Original Series?

Singer: Yes, but not as much. The Original Series will always have a place in my heart. One night I went over the Patrick Stewart’s house to have dinner with him. He had a surprise for me and I thought it was pictures from the day I did my cameo. And the doorbell rings and William Shatner and his wife came in and it was awesome. I ended up playing Next Generation pinball with William Shatner in Patrick’s game room and I can’t even describe it.

Sandy Stone: Patrick has a TNG pinball machine in his home?

Singer: Next Generation pinball machine yep. But it has homages to other series, because as we were playing it I believe original music from The Original Series kept playing. And I kept staring at Shatner when playing this game

TrekMovie.com: So why do you refer to your next Superman movie as ‘the Wrath of Khan’ of the Superman franchise?

Singer: Well I think with the first Star Trek movie, like any first bringing back a franchise, you have to reintroduce the universe and set some tone and bring a bunch of characters, at least played by these actors. And then from there once you have done all that, and that is all a bit expository, with the second one you can dive right into the action of the story and the drama and take things to another level. I look forward to do that. It is the nice part of having made the first part. It is the same thing with X-Men 1and got to do a lot more with X-Men 2.

TrekMovie.com: Roger Ebert said “a film is only as good as its villain” in his review of Star Trek II. So are you looking to have that kind of villain in Superman Returns 2, or whatever it’s called?

Singer: Yah, or villains.

TrekMovie.com: About this Justice League movie that Warner has just announced it has put into development…it is confusing are you involved in that?

Singer: No, No

TrekMovie.com: Does that involve any of the same people, like Brandon Routh?

Singer: I have no idea? But it is really interesting and sounds really cool.

TrekMovie.com: Would they possibly be doing a Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Justice League movie all at the same time?

Singer: Probably not, and you never know. But you never know and these things are always complex and have a long development so you want to get a head start. If one comes up with something really interesting then it is worth trying out. Who knows what ages they are at, I don’t really know. I have been in the Valkyrie world. My head has been in the Second World War and some projects for television and Superman 2.

TrekMovie.com: One Geek question for Geek Magazine. What do you ‘geek out’ about?

Singer: Star Trek. Early Star Trek. I really do. Even seeing Shatner doing ‘Rocket Man’ got me excited.TM What is your favorite episode?

Singer: That is an obvious one, “City on the Edge of Forever.” What is the other one? “Trouble With Tribbles” of course, Sherman’s Planet that whole thing. I love “Space Seed” now in retrospect because Wrath of Khan is one of my favorite movies of all time, and I can go on.

TrekMovie.com: Do you know about the remastered project where CBS is Remastering The Original Series in HD and adding new CGI…have you had a chance to watch any?

Singer: I haven’t but I heard it’s OK I heard some of it is interesting. As long as they don’t change the performances or change the colors of the actors of what they are wearing I think that’s fine. The visual effects are a little dated I am sure. Us fans have seen them over and over so let’s see something new. As long as they are not changing the story.

Sandy Stone: They are not, they are just cleaning the dust off the opticals

Singer: When you play those opticals in high def you see those matte boxes glide away. Actually if you pick an early copy of Star Wars you will see the same thing.

TrekMovie.com: So you are excited about JJ Abrams?

Singer: Oh yah, yah. I don’t think it is anything he is doing lightly. It is something he really cares about it and he is really talented. I cant wait to see it. I hope they give him enough money to do it right. Very often with the Star Trek franchise because I don’t think it plays so well foreign, they end up cutting the budgets and cutting and cutting. Very often some parts start looking like television movies. I hope they give it the resources to make it look right.

TrekMovie.com: Superman Returns cost about $200 [million] and Star Trek Nemesis cost about $65 [million], so what do you think the magic sweet spot for a Star Trek movie, if you were making one?

Singer: Well it is all script dependent [laughing] I would go northing of 100 if I start adding up visual effects in my head. But that is just unfortunately that is the cost of today’s audiences palette.

TrekMovie.com: Do you think a 200 million dollar Star Trek movie could make money?

Singer: I don’t think it would make money, but I would sure as shit go see it

  
Singer as unnamed tactical officer in Star Trek Nemesis

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