Clifton Collins Talks Trek Cheese and New Villains

Clifton Collins Jr., who plays General Ayel, the right hand to Eric Bana’s Nero in the new Star Trek says that new film is for the fans: "We’re serving the people who are completely enamored with Star Trek." The new Trek bad also talked to about Trek ‘cheese’ and his (and Bana’s) role in Star Trek .


Excerpts from ‘Hollywood Exclusive’ column

The other day JJ Abrms declared his Star Trek ‘real’ and ‘not kitschy.’ Collins picks up on this theme and talks about Abrams’ de-cheesification:

He’s totally reinvented the whole thing and taken the cheese out of it. I tried to watch some of the old ‘Star Treks’ and with all due respect, they were probably cool at the time, but I couldn’t watch them. [The new movie] is the real deal. It’s just got a lot of reality. It’s not corny at all.

Collins on his and Bana characters

I can’t tell you too much, but me and Eric are some real bad dudes




For spoilers on the characters of Ayel and Nero, see TrekMovie’s recent Star Trek Villain Spoilers article.


Collins February 4 (during the Star Trek shoot) at Hollywood Party


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I like my Trek Cheese, on the same sandwich as my Shat Ham.

This name calling: “cheese” and “kitsch”, is making me a little nervous.

Also, “corny”.

Oh, man, the cheese is gonna hit the fan with this one… But hey, sometimes a sandwich is good with cheese, and sometimes it’s just as good when you hold the cheese. I’m a man of variety.

This is wonderful news! We’re getting closer to the new movie, day by day. In the home stretch.


#2—Why? Regardless of whether some people involved may consider the 40+ year-old TOS episodes to be “cheesy”, did you want or expect such a quality in STXI? I didn’t.

Nick Meyer wasn’t a fan of TOS either. But he made some pretty good Star Trek films.

Bear in mind that this guy probably only shot a few scenes, and likely isn’t really all that significant anyway. Who cares if he thought TOS was “cheesy”? If anything, his opinion probably bodes well for attracting newer and broader audiences to see the film. Whether we like it or not, he certainly isn’t the first person I have heard say that Star Trek has cheese disease.

What some don’t seem to think about is that sometimes Star Trek is at it’s cheesiest when it takes itself too seriously.

I hope there is a nice mild blend of everything, just like my favorit colby jack.

I have been watching TOS again recently, and man, as much as I love them, there is alot of cheese. I can’t wait to see JJ’s take on this.

This sounds better and better.

So, Collins could never get into the old Trek. He didn’t like it?

Here’s a secret: that’s true for most people in the world.

#9—Yep. I think its something you had to fall in love with as a kid.

What they refer to as “cheese” or “kitsch” is part of what makes Star Trek work for me. Especially when they refer to it as a bad thing. It’s one thing for an actor to say these things but after hear Abrams bash the Original Series for it…..all it tells me is that he really doesn’t know Star Trek at all.
They only saving grace in this is Bob Orici and I hope his influence keeps it real Star Trek. We shall see won’t we folks?

I watched my DVD of The Cloud Minders over the weekend, and it was a darn good episode. Practically up there with decent TNG episode. The waxed philosophical about the plight of the Trogylites, etc. It was very good.

My wife hasn’t ever seen so much as a whole episode, and she thought the music and the set lighting was very cheesy, but I can’t fault her for that.

#11–“It’s one thing for an actor to say these things but after hear Abrams bash the Original Series for it…..all it tells me is that he really doesn’t know Star Trek at all.
They only saving grace in this is Bob (Orci) and I hope his influence keeps it real Star Trek. We shall see won’t we folks?”

Once again, does anyone remember or care what Nick Meyer thought about TOS? Let’s just say he wasn’t a particular fan.


Robert Wise didn’t know Star Trek from a 1950’s Martian invasion flick.


By the way, my kids laugh at TOS when I watch it. They like some of the movies, but you should have heard my ten year old lose it during “The Doomsday Machine”…

I hope, for the sake of the franchise’s future, that STXI isn’t cheesy at all.

Star Trek ruined Nasa.

Abraham Lincoln.
The Gorn.
Space hippies.
Go-Go boots galore.
Velour sweaters and bellbottoms as uniforms
Shatner’s acting.
Giant space amoebas.
Fu Manchu mustaches and brown shoe-polish make-up on the Klingons.
Bad wigs.
Bee-hive hairdos.
Microphones & salt shakers as futuristic props.
Spock’s groovy electric sitar.
Any chance for Uhura to sing.
Bad Russian accents.
Bad Scottish accents.
Moe Howard haircuts.
AMT models used in place of scale models.
“The Deadly Years”
“Spock’s Brain”

Yup, no cheese here.

(I’m sure Abrams & Co. are simply noting the more dated aspects of the Original Series. Don’t take it so personally, folks.)

#15—Good points.

“Fu Manchu mustaches and brown shoe-polish make-up on the Klingons”

I happen to prefer that though.

showing little respect to TOS when thy guys involved are calling it cheesy and kitsch.

But its like the man Shatner says:

Even the series’ renowned cheesy production design, done on an increasingly tight budget through the show’s 1966-69 run, didn’t put him off.

“The actors were wonderful. And I didn’t care about the sets or anything like that or the cheesy spaceship,” Shatner says. “I think that’s what happens in ‘Star Trek.’ Your eye goes past all the faults because you’re concentrated on the actors and the plot.”

5. Hitch

Why “rehabilitated”? I want you straight and undiluted! : )

I too am looking forward to this movie. It sounds like an entirely different animal than the previous features. Which is a good thing, in my view.

I have a sense of humor about my TOS. I can and sometimes do laugh about it, and if someone wants to call it cheesy, fine.

But keep in mind also that this (hoped for) new series of films will never enjoy the same groundbreaking impact or the longevity of its cheesy source of inspiration. TOS cheese has stayed fresh for 40 years.

As for cheese and kitsch, give the new movie a few decades and it’ll probably qualify, too. To every thing there is a season, Valeris. Then again, it could end up a classic like 2001 or TWOK with no cheese in sight. That’d be okay, too.

My four year old walked into the room the other night while I was watching ‘The Cloud Minders’ and asked me if I was watching ‘Space Chimps’.

18. ByGeorge

Please compare those sets (and special effects) with anything else from 1966 or earlier. Can you provide ANY examples of science fiction sets or effects that were even close to the quality of TOS? I await your answer.

21. Izbot

Did you have a straight look on your face when you compared 2001 and TWOK? C’mon! TWOK was 90% cheese! None of the Trek feautures come close to being the classic that 2001 is!

#17—Seems to me that they are showing quite a bit of respect for TOS just by making a $150 million budget feature film based upon its characters.

TOS is my second favorite television show of all time, and my favorite Star Trek series, but I am not fool enough to believe that the average person wouldn’t think “cheesy” after viewing “The Way To Eden”, “Spock’s Brain”, “The Savage Curtain”, or any number of TOS episodes. The fact is, it is a very common opinion. People like me became attached to the show at a very young age, and by the time we realized just how “cheesy” it often was, it no longer mattered. That opinion, however, has been shared by the directors of past Star Trek films (and pretty good ones, IMO). Why hold JJ and everyone involved with STXI to a higher standard? As long as they make a good film, what difference does it make? All they are doing is being honest. Television shows could be a bit “cheesy” 40 years ago. Big deal. It had some cheesy moments…it had some fantastic moments. The important thing is, it produced characters so iconic that 40 years later, someone has invested $150 million into a movie project with the intention of bringing it back to life.

#24—That’s a matter of opinion. I don’t see TWOK as cheesy at all. What exactly are you referring to? BTW, I consider 2001(as a matter of fact, I think TMP:DE holds up alot better) to be one of the most overrated movies of all time (ducks). It just goes to show you—there are all kinds of opinions (and there is a fine line between cheese and Athlete’s Foot).

I can watch TWOK once a month or so without ever being burnt out on it. I can’t stay awake through 2001:ASO.

Have we forgotten: Everyone involved saw enough in the material to make a $150 Million movie.

If you’re going to create a movie based on a 60s TV show, you had BETTER know how to separate what works from what would not work for a movie.

Star Trek, even though the stories are great, DOES have some cheese.

#15 is right to point it out. I love the cheese, but some don’t. As an example, my wife LOVES the new Battlestar Galactica, but considers the original 1978 series a cheesefest with corny dialogue and bad haircuts.

The best way to show respect to the original material is to treat it seriously, and that means dumping the cheesier aspects, while respecting the core of what makes Star Trek great.

I know people who enjoy the original series partially because of the more hokey elements.

We must repsect the fact that not everyone will enjoy the Original Series as it is, even though the concept, characters, premise and ideas appeal to them.

You know, if anyone feels shortchanged on their cheese after the movie, there are always the fan productions to fall back on. Although they are lovingly and laboriously made, they are brimming with cheese – all of the 60’s lighting gels, set designs and all of the fanboy aspirations packed into downloadable, day-glo wedges! Help yourself. Just go easy on the wine.

Re: #5 – hitch, even rehabilitated, you’re a hoot. I agree with your entire subtext.

I’ve been being bad, staying up late and watching re-runs of “Mission: Impossible” on the wonderful, and unintentionally kitschy, RTN network lately. I’d only seen a handful of episodes over the years. Set in the contemporary, if highly fictionalized, world of the late 60s, it’s just as “cheesy” and laughable at TOS Trek is to the modern sensibility. Everyone doing goofy accents, fooling bad guys with “rubber masks,” tapes that self-destruct, “Iron Curtain” countries with things labeled “Openz” and “Clüze”. Gimme a break.

And yet, it’s terrifically entertaining, and, for it’s time, imaginative and well-done. My 14 year-old son, who’s as modern as the next kid, finds it entertaining as well. So I’m a little prickly when people seem so quick to find the efforts of creators of past eras fodder only for mockery.

That said, I’m not too alarmed about the current Trek movie crew talking about cheese and kitsch. I get it. I look forward to your film.

Scott B. out.

drama and gritty realism in tha’ New Trek:

PINE: What is the meaning of this unprovoked attack? My ship in tatters… Dozens dead and even more wounded! Who the hell are you to do this?

BANA: I’m Batman. (puts on rubber cowl, talks deeper) There is a turmoil in my soul; I slice the fine line between criminal and saviour only to be cut deeply by it.

PINE: What?

BANA: I’m also your uncle… I killed your father to marry your mother and inherit this cool spaceship. Now, I have come back in time to kill you, James, before you boil up the courage to strike me down.

PINE: What?

QUINTO: Captain, I am in love with the stableboy, not the duke. I denounce my nobility for such love!

PINE: What?

NIMOY: Ship out of danger? I have been and will always be your friend.

PINE: What?

CHO: Nero’s lying! He’s trying to muscle in on our territory. But his shower-curtain of falsitudes can only lead to where you cut me out and give him the whole business! (uses controlled substance) Say hello to my little friend! (pulls out Joe Pesci and points him at viewscreen)

PINE: Oh, for crying out loud. Time to get cocky. (sets ship on self-destruct) Nero- if you do not stop trying to attack this ship and kill me, I will blow it up!

COLLINS: (to Nero) I don’t think he’s bluffing…

MONGO: This seem familiar to Mongo…

PINE: What?



I’ve never watched ST for the special effects. Gimme a good story with great characters and I’ll watch. Gimme great special effects, costumes, elaborate productions etc but without a story that is wildly emotional, gut wrenching, thought provoking, exciting to keep me on edge of my seat, humorous, or just plain fun — I’ll pass on watching it.

If you want to give godd characters great story and great effects – no problem. But I watch for the story and characters before effects. I won’t complain if someone wants to take the cheese away but it doesn’t matter that much, my eyes go past that aspect of it.


TWOK cheese:

Khan and his crew look like an 80’s Heavy Metal band. Cheesy.

The Genesis Planet effects (inside and out) are super cheesy!

Kirk’s wimpy, whiney son is cheesy.

“Khannnnnnnn!” is cheesy.

Scotty carrying his dead nephew onto the bridge is cheesy.

Reusing the TMP spacedock sequence was cheesy.

Kirsty Alley was too damn sexy to be a Vulcan. Cheesy, but good! : )

I’ll take Joachim over Ayel any day.

arrrrr… saw Eric Bana and this here Clifton Collins pushin’ old women in tha’ street, holdin’ up local stores wit’ a chainsaw, and jaywalkin’ all over creation…

bad, bad dudes…



Khan and his crew look like an 80’s Heavy Metal band. Cheesy.
– More so in retrospect that at the time of released.

The Genesis Planet effects (inside and out) are super cheesy!
– ??? I don’t see cheese in the Genesis demonstration sequence CGI, though it is a little dated now due to the CGI advancements made since 1982.

Kirk’s wimpy, whiney son is cheesy
– Actually, I though his character was pretty believable. I saw him as someone who made assumptions about a father he didn’t know.

“Khannnnnnnn!” is cheesy.
– Fantastic, pure, prime, mature cheddar. Love it !!!

Scotty carrying his dead nephew onto the bridge is cheesy
– Not to me. Serves to remind the audience of the stakes.

Reusing the TMP spacedock sequence was cheesy
– Nope. Just cheap. It worked though, since it is the same Enterprise, and would not have looked that much different if redone. 10 cent solution ;-)

Kirsty Alley was too damn sexy to be a Vulcan. Cheesy, but good
– Especially with Kirk in the turbolift. “It’s still regulation, Admiral.”

#32—Can’t say I smell the cheese in that lasagna…

1.Khan and his crew look like an 80’s Heavy Metal band—dated, perhaps, but cheesy?

2.The Genesis Planet effects (inside and out)—I don’t see it. mediocre budget effects for the early 80’s… that’s about it.

3.Kirk’s wimpy, whiney son—the product of a single mother without an Alpha-male role model around.

4.“Khannnnnnnn!” —classic Shatner overdramatization. If that’s cheesy, he has never done anything that isn’t.

5.Scotty carrying his dead nephew onto the bridge—since when is emotionally rash behavior over a dead relative (particularly one so young) cheesy?

6.Reusing the TMP spacedock sequence—that’s just good economics!

7.Kirsty Alley was too damn sexy to be a Vulcan—now that’s just racist! LOL. Back then, she (Alley) was just a cute, young and inexperienced actress. She (Saavik) is also half-Romulan. Spock can tell you all about their “sex appeal”.

24. Anthony Thompson
“Did you have a straight look on your face when you compared 2001 and TWOK? C’mon! TWOK was 90% cheese! None of the Trek feautures come close to being the classic that 2001 is!”

I was serious, TWOK is a classic. And I agree with Closetrekker that TMP:DE is a classic in its own right. Of course putting TWOK and 2001 in the same sentence as examples of timeless sci fi classics was bound to stir a up few people but I stand by my opinion.

And Closetrekker: A lot of my friends feel the same way about 2001 (that it’s overrated or boring, etc). But you can’t deny its influences (especially on TMP which it fairly matches in tone and pacing), particularly with regard to its effects. Consider that it came out the same year as “Planet of the Apes”, “Barbarella’ (cheeeeeeesy!) and TOS seasons 2 & 3 then compare and contrast. And I can see that ol’ JJ has been influenced by the film in his previous works with regard to the film’s ambiguity. It leaves a lot of lingering questions and no nice, neat answers. And JJ likes that kind of thing. Look at “Cloverfield” and how you are given a cropped moment of a much larger story — and no definitive answers — yet I feel it was totally effective. Also, I don’t just consider 2001 a classic because it’s influential. I love every single thing about it — every shot, every image, every nuance. Just like TWOK.

33. DJT
“I’ll take Joachim over Ayel any day.”

Excuse me, huh?! How can you make a statement like that when the film’s a year away? Haven’t even seen this guy’s performance yet! That’s like saying, “Next year’s television season sucks!” What do you have a time machine?

Star Trek is many things but “corny” isn’t on the list.

They musn’t forget that part of that “cheese” is part of the charm. They need to be really careful on what “cheese ” they remove and how much. Remove the charm from TOS and they will fail.

#27:”Have we forgotten: Everyone involved saw enough in the material to make a $150 Million movie.

If you’re going to create a movie based on a 60s TV show, you had BETTER know how to separate what works from what would not work for a movie.”

Exactly so.

If TOS and Trek were not cheesy, “Galaxy Quest” would not have been possible.

Khan and his crew look like an 80’s Heavy Metal band. Cheesy. – Yes. Ricardo’s muscle chest.

The Genesis Planet effects (inside and out) are super cheesy! – NO. Pretty frakking state of the art at the time.

Kirk’s wimpy, whiney son is cheesy. – Original script had him bone’ing Saavik.

“Khannnnnnnn!” is cheesy. Nope – classic trek moment.

Scotty carrying his dead nephew onto the bridge is cheesy.Nope – yet another great moment for effect. The original script even had the funeral

Reusing the TMP spacedock sequence was cheesy. yes, but it was thankfully shorter, still cool

Kirsty Alley was too damn sexy to be a Vulcan. Cheesy, but good! : ) Are you kidding? Sexy vulcans rule.

#37—I’d be the first to admit that my opinion is the minority one when it comes to grading 2001:ASO. I cannot help it. None of the fine cinematography or the knowledge that it influenced other great films/filmmakers keeps me entertained. I’m just being honest. And it’s not as if I am one of these people who hates older movies or cannot enjoy anything but mindless action or raunchy comedy. It just never does anything for me. I’m glad that Abrams and others can take something beneficial from the film. It just bores me. I was taken in the first time, but it’s just not one of the films I can rewatch again and again.

I’m never aware of the “cheese” when I watch TOS alone. As soon as somebody walks in the room, though, I immediately start to see it through their eyes and the “cheese” becomes apparent.

The movies are a different thing, however. People’s affection for many of the movies just proves that the heart of ST is the character dynamic. With the 60’s “cheese” gone, the plot and characters take over in the movies and “non-fans” can still enjoy it.

I guess I still view TOS through a child’s eyes and that’s one reason watching it has always been a special experience for me as an adult.

I’d just like everyone to pause and consider the idea of “removing the cheese” by making a Trek movie focused on a Romulan time-travel plot.

Just pause, inhale, exhale, and consider.

And speaking of inhaling, if this is true, then we could have people walking out of the theaters next year saying “Man, that was like Star Trek, except they totally cut the cheese!” “Yeah, who did that? Who cut the cheese?” “Abrams, man. He cut the cheese.”

It could go on T-shirts.

It’s a space opera where “aliens” are human actors with rubber ears/antenna/forehead bumps. Of course it’s cheesy. That’s what Star Trek IS. It’s Sci-Fi and allegory. If you try for some kind of “realism” then you don’t understand it.

Good. Feel the same way about TOS. If it wasn’t for the remastered episodes, they’d almost be unwatchable.

I actually think the remastered ones look more cartoony than the original.

i just added a cheese/kitsh poll (see right column)

I’m really amazed that I got through reading 43 posts before I found a reference to cutting the cheese.

Which Trek is the cheesiest? They all have their own portioned amount. TNG is one big cheesefest. DS9 had its share (Ferrengi, anyone?). ENT early on overdid it with the forced “sexiness” and pee-pee jokes. But VOY is probably the cheesiest of all. That third season in particular was insane — I still can’t tell if the writers were totally clueless and driving in the dark with no headlights or if the whole season was an extended joke.

And speaking of cheese, remember in VOY’s “Learning Curve” when Neelix accidently made the ship’s bioneural gelpacks sick with bacteria…from a cheese? Best worst line from any Star Trek:
Chakotay: “Get this cheese to sickbay!”