Star Trek’s producer/director JJ Abrams is focusing on promoting his new show Fringe this week, but of course the subject of Star Trek keeps coming up. In a couple of new interviews, the multi-tasking Abrams talks about how his Trek balances the fans and a new audience and how it is ‘real’ sci-fi.
Star Trek as balancing act
Abrams describes how Trek is both a film for Trekkies and a film for regular film goers.
AV Club: How do you put your varied interests to work in a franchise like Star Trek, which has fans deeply devoted to certain immutable core elements? How do you make it yours?
JJ Abrams: Well, I was never the type of Star Trek fan that had expectations or limits about what the "right" version of a Star Trek movie should be. But at the same time, one of the reasons I got involved with Star Trek was because it has such devoted fans, so I felt it was critical to honor them and honor the series. I learned as much as I could about the show, and looked for help from Bob Orci, one of the creators of Fringe, who was also one of the writers of Trek, and an avowed Trekker. He knows all the arcane details, so he was the one kind of keeping me honest on the set.
Ultimately, though, I wasn’t making this movie just for the dedicated fans. I was making the movie for fans of movies. The final product, I think, doesn’t require any prior knowledge of the show Star Trek. I mean, almost anyone, if you stopped them on the street and asked who Kirk and Spock are, they’d know. I think people will typically have some sense of those two guys. And then there are fans who know every episode and argue about what the Star Trek canon is. This movie does acknowledge a world that has pre-existed off the screen for decades, but when you see it, it’s not going to be quite what you’d expect, and definitely not just a rehash of things you’ve seen before. It’s a very new take on the thing that it’s also beholden to. It’s a very interesting balance .
Star Trek as sci-fi
In a separete interview with BuddyTV / Television Without Pity, Abrams talked about how Star Trek is more real sci-fi compared to other projects.
TWoP: You’ve become a science fiction icon to fans. Is that something you ever expected to happen? Is that where your passion is, that genre?
JJ Abrams: No, of course not. The truth is, to be lucky enough to get to work on shows at all, let alone, shows that you really care about or interest you. It’s a thrill and an honor. Doing Star Trek, that really is science fiction. On Lost, you can kind of argue it was a science fiction show, but we weren’t open about that at the beginning. And then Alias had a sci-fi bent from the beginning. Star Trek is Star Trek, you know what I mean? I don’t regard the genre as much as I like stories that are often just a little bit off-center or weirder. That usually means some version of science fiction.
JJ is listening
Last week we noted that Simon Pegg, Star Trek’s new Scotty, was clearly keeping track of Internet buzz for Star Trek, and of course Fringe co-creator and Star Trek co-writer Roberto Orci is a regular commenter at TrekMovie.com, so we know he is keeping up, but apparently so is Abrams…
TWoP: Do you read what the web folks say about your show? Are you going to read what the fans are saying about Fringe after every episode?
JJ Abrams: Yeah, I’m beholden to the audience, and the Internet is a great way to get a sense of what people hate and what they love and what they want more of or less of. It doesn’t mean you follow it all the time, but if something resonates, you can’t deny it. It’s not a bad tool to have in your toolbox.
Fringe, created by JJ Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, premieres next Tuesday on Fox.
Abrams with his Fringe actors: (L-R) Lance Reddick, Anna Torv and Joshua Jackson at FOX’s “Fringe” premiere party August 25