In a new interview with the LA Times Heroes Complex Blog, Star Trek director JJ Abrams talks in detail about how he approached the movie, what he thinks about hardcore ‘purists,’ why humor is important in Star Trek and more. Excerpts below.
Excerpts from LA Times
Abrams on approach to Star Trek vs. BSG, Star Wars, Bond, etc.
LA Times: As franchises move into new eras it’s interesting to watch how they change — or don’t change. "Battlestar Galactica" could hardly be more different than it was in the 1970s while "Star Wars" is essentially the same. With "Star Trek" you seem to be pursuing a revival like we’ve seen with Batman and James Bond, which holds on to core mythology but recalibrates the tone.
JJ Abrams: I think I benefited because I came into this movie as someone who appreciated "Star Trek" but wasn’t an insane fanatic about it. The disadvantage is I didn’t know everything I needed to know immediately at the beginning and had to learn it. The advantage though is I could look at "Star Trek" as a whole a little bit more like a typical moviegoer would see it; it allowed me to seize the things that I felt were truly the most iconic and important aspects of the original series and yet not be serving the master and trying to be true to every arcane detail. It let me look at the things I knew were critical.
Abrams on hardcore fans
LA Times: You know that no matter what you do, you’ll get an earful from hardcore fans.
JJ Abrams: The key is to appreciate that there are purists and fans of "Star Trek" who are going to be very vocal if they see things that aren’t what what they want. But I can’t make this movie for readers of Nacelles Monthly who are only concerned with what the ship’s engines look like. They’re going to find something they hate no matter what I do. And yet, the movie at its core is not only inspired by what has come before, it’s deeply true to what’s come before. The bottom line is we have different actors playing these parts and from that point on it’s literally not what they’ve seen before. It will be evident when people see this movie that it is true to what Roddenberry created and what those amazing actors did in the 1960s. At the same time, I think, it’s going to blow people’s minds because its a completely different experience than what they expect.
Abrams on critiques of the footage shown in November
LA Times: In the footage you showed at the Paramount lot I was really struck by the comedic touches. There was a humor that felt natural and exuberant … there was also some vamping moments for your cast.
JJ Abrams: Yeah, among the kind of anecdotal critiques I read online some people said ‘Oh, look at this, they’re trying to sex it up,’ by having Kirk in bed with a girl or Uhura undressing, and they said, ‘Oh that’s not ‘Star Trek.’ Other people wrote, ‘Oh there’s comedy in it, that’s not ‘Star Trek’ I know.’ Look, if you actually watch the show, that show was always pushing buttons all the time and was considered very sexy for its time. It had the first interracial kiss on television and it was a show that was sexually adventurous. And it was very funny. One of my favorite things about "Star Trek" wasn’t just the overt banter but the humor in that show about the relationships between the main characters and their reactions to the situations they would face; there was a lot of comedy in that show without ever breaking its reality. That’s important to us.
Go to the LA Times to read much more from Abrams on the new Star Trek.