The UK’s Sky Movies Channel has a ’35 Mil’ show dedicated to the new Star Trek movie with an excellent exclusive interview with director JJ Abrams. Being that this interview was done at the time of his recent ‘preview tour’ and release of the trailer, Abrams is very forthcoming about the cast, characters, themes and the future of the franchise. Full video below with transcript.
VIDEO (airing in the UK on Sky Movies Channel and also available online)
Here are some excerpts from the interview, for the video challenged.
JJ Abrams on challenges making the movie
Star Trek has been around decades and decades. One of the challenges was to embrace what they were doing originally – the spirit of what Gene Roddenberry created – but to do it in a way that felt legitimate and new. My big fear was doing something that felt campy or silly. …. Movies like Galaxy Quest so successfully satirized this universe. It was important to make this as real as possible.
…on casting Kirk and Spock:
It was tricky – the hardest part was Kirk, because with Spock we were lucky to meet Zachary Quinto fairly early on. He was clearly born to be Spock. The first meeting we had with him, I couldn’t believe his likeness – it was eerie. Spock, I thought was going to be the hardest one, but Kirk was the hardest one for real. Because William Shatner brought a number of things to that role. He was incredibly cocky. He was incredibly smart – his wit was sharp. He had a great sense of humor. He was everything in this package. He didn’t have anything to hide behind, no pointy ears. … It was all about his attitude. I knew I didn’t want to have them impersonating the original actors, and have them do their own thing playing these characters. Finding someone who would come in and be simultaneously brand new and also familiar was really challenging and Chris Pine came in and it was like finding a movie star that is unknown. …He had this incredible confidence, that was not obnoxious. He was great looking, but not ‘oh come one, give me a break.’ He just had all of these – he is so smart, as an actor and a guy – he asks great questions. He was wonderful collaborator. The only other movie I directed [M:I:3] starred Tom Cruise and every day, Tom who is sort of an icon, was there as a sort of sherpa with me helping me do all the heavy lifting. And this was sizable movie without a movie star. And so a lot was riding on Chris and Zach’s shoulder’s to make this thing work and they just brought their ‘A game.’
…on the film’s themes:
First of all Star Trek is an incredibly optimistic world that Roddenberry was basically positing that not only do we live, but we thrive. And not just racially, but inter-species. The idea of ‘Star Trek’ is trekking through stars and trekking through space and discovering the final frontier and it is something you take for granted or may thing is silly, but when you actually think about that notion it is a very optimistic one. So part of what I love about the world of Star Trek before you even get to this film, I live its optimism. And I think specifically with this movie – this is an origin story about people who come together. This is a family on this ship. To see Kirk, who is at the beginning this incredibly cocky – when we first meet him he is aimless guy who is looking for his place, he doesn’t know how to use his power. And then you got Spock who is this logical character, but also conflicted because he is half human. And you have these two characters and they are sort of yin and yang and they come together and it is sort of like two brothers in a way, their story.
I think the themes of the movie beyond. There is definitely good versus evil. Eric Bana plays an incredibly scary bad guy [Nero] who has a great story and is incredible in the movie. so you definitely have good vs. evil, but even the good is defined in this movie. You see it coming together. So it is a very optimistic film in that way. To me it is the thing that I am happiest about, that we realized that goal which is to invest in and love the characters and go up against the bad guy.
On the new trailer:
The idea was to begin Earth-bound. You hear ‘Star Trek’ and you expect some space ship…The idea was to show the scope of the movie, but also make it clear that this is a story about these two characters – Kirk and Spock – and their conflict – it is essential to the movie. And give a taste of the movie. You may know Star Trek, but the version of Star Trek you are about to see is unlike any you have seen before.
For the most part, the movie assumes that you haven’t seen this world before. The movie that we have done was not made for fans of Star Trek, it has really been made for future fans of Star Trek. I hope that when you see this or when you go to the movie you don’t feel like you need to know anything about Star Trek. This is literally a ground floor, starting from scratch, brand new experience.
Is this a repositioning of the franchise?
I didn’t look at the thing as a brand or a franchise, I sort of looked at it as a story of these characters. I was excited to get involved as a producer, but it wasn’t until I read the script that Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci wrote – that I loved it and I felt so jealous of anyone who got to direct these people and these characters and this story. It is a very intimate story told against a huge epic backdrop, sort of both big and small.
Will it lead to future movies?
Yes…I believe so – ideally it would be fantastic. You love these people and want to see what they do next.
Thanks to Charles for the link