Yesterday in his interview with the LA Times Star Trek director JJ Abrams got people buzzing about humor, trek purists and of course…nacelles. Tonight the LA Timeshas posted the second part of their interview with Trek’s new helmer, and this time he talks about Trek’s optimism, the story, a sequel, and most interestingly – how the new film relates to that other big ‘Star’ franchise, excerpt below.
JJ on Star Trek & Star Wars
Goto the LA Times for the full interview, below is an excerpt of the discussion where self-described Star Wars fan Abrams discusses how he tried to take lessons from that other franchise while not copying it:
LA Times: "Star Wars" vs. "Star Trek" is sort of a classic Beatles vs. Stones debate for sci-fi fans of a certain age. You have said you wanted to infuse your "Trek" revival with some lessons learned from the George Lucas universe. Can you talk about that?
JJ Abrams: Well, I’m just a fan of "Star Wars." As a kid, "Star Wars" was much more my thing than "Star Trek" was. If you look at the last three "Star Wars" films and what technology allowed them to do, they covered so much terrain in terms of design, locations, characters, aliens, ships — so much of the spectacle has been done and it seems like every aspect has been covered, whether it’s geography or design of culture or weather system or character or ship type. Everything has been tapped in those movies. The challenge of doing "Star Trek" — despite the fact that it existed before "Star Wars" — is that we are clearly in the shadow of what George Lucas has done.
LA Times: How do you overcome that?
JJ Abrams: The key to me is to not ever try to outdo them because it’s a no-win situation. Those movies are so extraordinarily rendered that it felt to me that the key to "Star Trek" was to go from the inside-out: Be as true to the characters as possible, be as real and as emotional and as exciting as possible and not be distracted by the specter of all that the "Star Wars" film accomplished. For instance, we needed to establish that there are aliens in this universe and yet I didn’t want it to feel like every scene had four new multi-colored characters in it. That is something "Star Wars" did so well with its amazing creature design. The question is how do you subtly introduce the idea that there are different species here. And to also do it differently than the ["Trek"] TV shows, which basically had someone wearing a mask sitting in a chair [in the background]. It was the balance of doing what the story needed us to do but also not feeling like we were trying to rip off or out-do what Lucas did.
LA Times: It is a challenge. There’s an early scene in your film where you have a crowded bar, music is playing and your callow young hero walks in, rubs shoulders with aliens, and then ends up in a brawl. You have to know that a chunk of your audience will be thinking about the "Star Wars" cantina scene…
JJ Abrams: That cantina scene is obviously one of the classic scenes in "Star Wars" and it was such a wonderful introduction to how amazing, how diverse and how full of possibility this "Star Wars" universe was going to be. In the subsequent films, especially the last three, so many scenes have that feeling, that they are just expanding and expanding the worlds. That was definitely something where I felt the burden of "My God, they’ve done it all." And the challenge is how do you do it where it feels real and meaningful and not like you’re borrowing from someone else. That’s just one of our challenges.
Goto the LA Times for the rest, including Abrams discussion of a possible sequel.