Exclusive Interview: Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman Talk Star Trek Sequel

Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof have been tasked to shape the story and script for the 2012 Star Trek sequel. In a new exclusive interview with TrekMovie.com the writer/producers talk about the sequel schedule, character development, getting the mix of old and new right, fan patience, and more. Watch the video and read the transcript below.  


Exclusive Interview with Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman & Bob Orci

Last Friday following the LA Times Hero Complex Film Festival Star Trek panels (including a screening of Star Trek II and panel with director Nick Meyer) I had a chance to sit down with Star Trek writer/producers Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci.


  • Regarding the status of the sequel the team deferred to JJ Abrams but said if needed the film could make it’s June 29, 2012 release date but they wouldn’t rush it just for that date.
  • Even though they started writing the script in October, they haven’t been on it "full time", going in and out of other projects, but now all five members of the creative team are free to focus on Star Trek (Orci Kurtzman, Lindelof + JJ Abrams and Bryan Burke)
  • Sequel will see characters past the getting to meet them phase and closer to how we remember them (from the Original Series)
  • See Star Trek II as a model for getting the characters right, but recognize they can never remake Wrath of Khan
  • Sequel will contain a mix of classic Star Trek elements, and brand new elements, including classic elements "with a new spin"
  • Some parts of the film will play only for the fans as a reward for investment in the canon of Star Trek
  • Sequel won’t be "message movie" but offers more of a chance for stories that reflect our current times
  • Team understand fan frustration with the wait, but promise they are committed to making a great movie, not phone in a film to make release date

Here is the full video of the interview and the transcript is below.


TrekMovie.com: Let’s start with the status on the script and the schedule. The latest we hear is for September to start shooting. Do you guys feel confident that can happen?

Damon Lindelof: [chuckles] Confident is such a strong word. Here is our thinking. We feel pretty strongly that the best version of this movie is directed by JJ [Abrams]. And therefore we totally defer to his availability and when he wants to direct. This isn’t us passing the buck, but it is us passing the buck. Is it possible to start shooting the movie in September? Absolutely, we would totally be ready to go. But that doesn’t mean we are going to start in September, that is a question only JJ can answer. I think one of the things about Super 8 is he started shooting it late last fall and it had to be released [June 10]. And the Trek sequel is going to be much more ambitious on a post-production level, then Super 8 was. The fundamental idea of shooting it and getting it in the can and having it come out next July is entirely possible and we are confident we have the team in place that would be able to achieve that, but that might not be the best version of the movie.

Alex Kurtzman: We made the commitment to each other on the first movie not to put that movie out unless we felt it was going to be the best version of the movie. And that meant taking our collective time. The first Trek had a release date of Christmas originally and we had to move it to the summer because it wasn’t going to be the best version, it was going to be rushed and it would have never been the movie that we put out there. Part of our responsibility to Trek is to make sure it isn’t rushed, that we take our time and do it right.

TrekMovie.com: You guys started writing the script in October I believe. We just heard Nick Meyer say he wrapped up the Star Trek II script in twelve days…

Damon Lindelof: Based on five previous drafts!

TrekMovie.com: Right. Brannon Braga and Ron Moore famously talk about how when they were writing Star Trek: Generations, they also had to write the [Star Trek: The Next Generation] finale "All Good Things," which I know Damon you consider it the best series finale and stole it in fact…

Damon Lindelof: It is only stealing if you don’t say you ripped it off [laughs].

TrekMovie.com: And they wrote that in a couple of weeks, saying the time constraint worked for them and, compared to Generations, that was the better script. Do you worry that with this nine-month process can have a deleterious effect?

Damon Lindelof: Well it hasn’t really been a nine month process. You are focused on how we started in October and now it is June so we have been working on Trek for that entire time, but in fact Alex directed an entire movie [Welcome to People], these guys produced a couple of pilots, managed an entire company of people, and I was working on Prometheus back and forth from London. Did we work on the movie in October? Yes. But I wouldn’t say it is entirely accurate that Trek has been our full time job. In fact this window before us now is our first full-time opportunity that the entire original creative force behind the original movie is able to sit in a room together and get to work.

Roberto Orci: You are not wrong about deadlines. Deadlines are great. We haven’t had a deadline yet, and that is why we keep not finishing it. Give us a deadline and we’ll finish it. We only closed our deal with Paramount two or three months ago. So it is not just doing other things, it is "let’s find out when we are really going to go and then we will really get to work."

Abrams shooting "Super 8" – writers say now that film is done the team are back together for Star Trek

TrekMovie.com: Now Star Trek II, which we just saw, is often  held up as the quintessential "better than the first" movie." What do you take away from Star Trek II, and what do you lean from it, and it is almost intimidating for you to go into your second movie?

Roberto Orci: I always look at that movie as the one where the characters are the most fully themselves in a way. And we have that opportunity now because the first one was about…

Alex Kurtzman: …just bringing them together.

Roberto Orci: …bringing them together and meeting them before you recognize them fully. And now we have the opportunity to do something that Star Trek II did, which is recognize them more fully and have them be more in the places where you expect and hope if you are a fan. And if you are not a fan and never seen them in that position, hopefully you get to enjoy that for the first time, the way Wrath of Khan was an entry point for many, including some of us.

Damon Lindelof: In a lot of ways I feel, and I don’t want to say anything disparaging about Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but in order to say "the second one was better than the first one," if you are talking about Terminator and Terminator 2 or Alien and Aliens, you are in a different conversation then if you are talking about Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Wrath of Khan. I feel in many ways, Wrath of Khan was a response to the missteps in Star Trek: The Motion Picture in terms pacing, in terms of a villain, in terms of character dynamic, all of these things. And obviously in bringing in an outsider. I think that this idea that Nicholas Meyer is not the guy that made the first movie and in fact probably hadn’t seen the first movie when he signed on to directing Wrath of Khan, or that is what he inferred tonight. The situation is literally apples and oranges. There is no way we can remake The Wrath
of Khan
. We hold it in such high esteem ourselves that it would be creative suicide to put the bar up there and say "that’s what we are going for." We are in an entirely different paradigm with our second movie.

"Star Trek" sequel will have characters "more in the places where you expect"

TrekMovie.com: During your panel and previously, you have talked about how your first movie reset the universe and created a lot of freedom, but at the same time it balanced a lot of the old and the new with lots of references. Now that you are in this world of freedom. Are you more drawn to the idea of doing totally new, totally unique stories? Or do you feel compelled to bring in all these classic Star Trek elements – classic aliens, locations, etc. If you think about the original series, every week was something new.

Roberto Orci: The question is: where where you draw the line. We know we want Kirk, we know we want Spock, Bones, Chekov, Uhura. Inherently already – we are still doing Star Trek and that is where you figure out the line. We deed ourselves to do stories where you cannot guess the outcome and you cannot guess the cause and effect of the events, even if some of the elements are familiar. So where you draw the line is our challenge and our fun. But we not making any rules about whether or not you have to include a certain amount of classic stuff or any at all, or whether it has to be all something you have never seen. Obviously some of the familiarity is going to be part of the fun.

Alex Kurtzman: I think our fandom compels us to look to the history of canon and say "are there things here that inspire us that we love?" Is there a way to use them in a way to use them in a way that feels relevant and pay homage to whatever it was that we want to borrow, yet put a spin on it that feels like it is speaking to what we are trying to do now.

Damon Lindelof: One of the guiding forces in the first movie that we always asked each other was "as fans of this, what would we we want to see?" And what came back is what Bob and Alex just beautifully articulated, which is we want both! We want new stuff that we have never seen before, but we also want the familiar items on the menu because those are the things we love to eat. And if there is a way we can bring both of those together in harmony so it doesn’t feel like they don’t fit, then that becomes a sort of mission statement. So there have to be moments in anything we do Trek, where 10% of the audience chuckles at a reference or a visual cue or a planetary system that we are paying homage to, but the other 90% of the audience can go along for the ride too. It is just finding that balance so it’s not too inside, but it inside enough so that the people that have invested the last forty years of their live in this incredible myth feel like they are getting their money’s worth.

Star Trek sequel will mix the new along with classic Star Trek elements, but with a "new spin"

TrekMovie.com: So from a year ago we were hearing words like "deeper" and "allegory." And I know Bob you are very politically interested – is conspiracy theorist the politically correct term? So are you thinking about trying to bring some more topical and political concepts into the sequel?

Roberto Orci: We talked about this in the panel with the first one. We thought the first one was reflecting that as well. The trick is not to make it a "message movie." It is just to reflect the environment that we find ourselves. The first movie did that and we intend to do the same thing, but because we don’t have the burden of having to meet everyone, because they can be a united force from the beginning, I think it allows us to think more about the world that they live in.

TrekMovie.com: Any last things you would like to say to the fans at TrekMovie.com?

Damon Lindelof: We would like to say we are very grateful and appreciative for your patience. As fanboys ourselves, if the shoe was on the other foot we would saying "get on with it already, when is the movie going to come out?" And we are fully aware of that. But we also know we cannot deliver a sub-par product. And in the end of the day, all that matters is what is on the screen and you have our word that we are not going to phone it in in any shape or form. It has to be right and we are really committed to realizing that.

Roberto Orci: What he said.

Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman, and Bob Orci talk Star Trek sequel with TrekMovie.com – appreciate fan patience waiting for Star Trek sequel news


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