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


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Great job, Anthony. Thanks for posting this in such detail.


why don’t you arm wrestle JJ and tell him if you win, he directs the sequel!

Cool deal! Thanks guys :)

Finally moving on from the Wrath of Khan remake nonsense

No “message movie”?

Great. So basically what made Star Trek so revolutuonary is now officially dumped in the trash can in favour of “developing characters”. Nimoy may think these guys get Star Trek, but I doubt Gene would think the same. Star Trek without that topical theme and ability to tackle key moral issues is what gave it heart. To not try and work that into the sequel is criminal IMO.

People complain about Trek 09 breaking with canon, destroying Vulcan, budweiser engineeringh, etc. But the fact was that it was an enjoyable action movie and a way to bring in the new crew (in an albeit “quick fix” fashion). The sequel is not that. It is the first time in the new universe that all is in place and that there is a chance to do Star Trek as it always has been.

If the bulk audience is more interested in seeing action and explosions rather than this core element of what made Star Trek stand the test of time then the movie going public has most certainly degenerated.

I know Bob reads these boards, so I hope that he remembers those key elements of TOS that set it apart from the rest.

Good message… thanks

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I trust you guys. I am willing to wait for a kick-ass story.

Thrusters on full.

I feel moderately better…

Bob Orci

I just watched the whole video.

Your constant nail-biting doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

C’mon, what would you think if you saw Kirk (sitting in the captain’s chair) biting his nails?

(I keed, I keed)

Great interview, Anthony Pascale!

After reading this interview… the article about JJAbrams and “6 months behind thing “… and looking the picture of the captain sitting in the chair… I wonder how the actors are doing to deal with the scheduling of their work… I hope they’re able to negotiate a “big contract” to make the sequel… with so much uncertainty about the timing and the beginning of the shoot…. WOW … they deserve it …

:-) :-)

#5 they have to sell to both Audances if they want to make a Third Movie and give us more Trek, I am still expecting they will give us what we want in June 2012.

Boys, just write a damn good script. That’s all I ask!

#5 Calm down, bro. Just because won’t be a “message movie” doesn’t mean it’ll be devoid of all meaningful content.

I really like this team and how they are approaching the sequel. I agree with Sunfell above: I trust them. No more negative comments from me. Really! Thanks Bob & Co. for your commitment to make a special and worthy film!

Roberto Orci : ….”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.” …

Can someone please give a deadline for the guys??……..

Buamuabuamuabua … I ‘m crying a little bit!

:-) :-)

No message means no hamfisted writing. If they do what JJ did in Super 8, that’ll be enough for me.

Uh, 3 years ago when Paramount greenlit the sequel and everyone involved announced June 29, 2012 as the release date…….how is that NOT a deadline for finishing a script in time so that it might be filmed and released on that date?

we believe in our supreme court!

Great video, good questions, good info.

One thing you can do to help make the video better: bring a tripod, the camera shake was distractinf

After… “Part of me feels” thing(JJ Abrams)… and “give us a deadline and we’ll finish it” thing (Roberto Orci) … I go to sleep crying … ummmmm

:-( :-)

In the Turnabout Intruder (TOS), I think we saw *Kirk* filing his nails on the bridge…:)

Been there, nail just broken, no nail file, thing’s driving me nuts…

What I liked to hear is that the three were very positive that filming proper could easily begin in September and that the film could be ready for release by July next year. They said it was up JJ Abrams and when he wanted to direct.

Please – JJ – do it, sooner rather than later. Even the actors are no doubt itching to see what they have to do and get on with it. Take Katie and the kids on holiday somewhere and do nothing for a couple of weeks at least and then come back…well, you know the rest.

Chris Pine has been seen in gym workout gear getting into that two-door sleek black car, beard ‘n’ all. Keeping fit and in shape in order to do a couple of Kirk-fu kicks no doubt…

Either that or so he can look good in those nude scenes with Uhura!


I think Doctor Who does this well. Its written in such a way that a new fan like myself can just jump in and enjoy it, but if you’re a long term fan there’s much more enjoyment from having knowledge of the universe, but its not required.

Similarly, with Battlestar Galactica, they would always throw in references and nods to the classic. You could tell they respected their source material, they even brought back the classic Cylons. I think that they would be wise to look at both Galactica and Who to see how those two series were not only successful but payed homage to what came before in a non-intrusive way.

#20, Keachick.

Yes, Kirk-fu!! So I amend my initial post: All I ask is a damn good script. . . with a flying-leg kick.

Thanks Anthony!

When’s it coming out!!?? Get on with it already! ;)

We will forgive you guys if you would just tell us who are the villains :)

I want to see Anthony put up, [UPDATE: xyz confirmed as villains!]

#5 – “No “message movie”?
Great. So basically what made Star Trek so revolutuonary is now officially dumped in the trash can in favour of “developing characters”. ”

It is through the development of characters as in seeing how they react to situations, what their priorities are, what ideals they possess, what bothers them, what inspires and encourages them – all this played out well can be a message in itself.

Star Trek 09 did present situations and it certainly got people thinking and arguing etc about events, the way some people appeared to behave, etc.

Star Trek is not a political party nor some evangelical religion. It should not be about telling people how they should think or what they should believe. It could though skilfully present concepts and ideals held by a group of people as opposed to those held up by our heroes, with an explanation as to why these other people feel the way they do. The writers walk a fine line here though.

14. dmduncan

I agree; as much as I love TOS, I’ll be the first to say that it could be more than a little preachy. I don’t mind Trek having something to say, but past Trek stories (in pretty much every iteration of Trek) have been guilty of sometimes delivering the message with the subtlety of a punch to the eye.

Bob i can see your tummy in the above picture :)

Our old friend BND would hope that the new movie is Arrrrrrrrrrrr-rated!

#21 Oh Harry, Harry…

I can see it now.

Our trusty near-naked triumvirate are hanging onto those vines with Kirk in the middle having to listen to Spock and McCoy either side of him go on and on… (you all must know what I mean – if you don’t, then you should – watch some TOS).

Who should come to their rescue but ship’s communication officer herself, Lt Uhura. However, she is not looking so *good* herself as in her uniform is also ripped into shreds along with most of her underwear and with her bras long since gone, it is not really able to cover much of anything. Trooper that she is, she somehow manages to execute a rescue because she’s got “stuff” in her backpack (the three guys get theirs taken…). It’s a tough place but it really is a case of “cherchez la femme” when you need to get things done, but hasn’t that always been pretty much the case?

Bob, JJ & co – Just make this so!

The sequel should be an equal opportunity film – would you not agree, Harry?

Excellent interview, Anthony.

Now make the movie, guys. I’d like to still be alive when it comes out. I’d rather not have to go shambling from my grave to finally see the Star Trek sequel, and I don’t think the audience would appreciate it either.

I may be totally wrong on this. But do I sense a little frustration with the guys talking about this?


Lots on their plates and I think they preferred if the script was done and flawless and jj can confirm and start prep, cast, film etc. They not done is letting fans down and themselves and I think thats a bad feeling

Doesnt help when we check in everyday looking for updates :) and feeling every day pass and wonder if 2012 is here yet, are they shooting yet, gosh this is painful wait

Hey, did you guys notice that Damon Lindelof did most of the talking? Who made him chief justice of the supreme court? :-) Geez, there better not be a scene in the new movie where the crew meets at a church.

So from what I can tell, they’re waiting on J.J. Abrams to tell us he is going to direct. And when does he come down from the mountain and talking to the burning bush? I feel like I’m waiting for Sarah Palin to tell us she’s going to run for President. Put your phasers down, that’s just an example not a metaphor. I think Abrams is a fine director though I wish he would lose the camera gymnastics. Oh, and dialogue is a good thing, J.J.

There seems to be an urge to turn Star Trek into Star Wars.. Damon’s T shirt sending a message? (Star Wars font.) Could the TOS be a little preachy? Yes. You had Kirk giving speeches in a lot of the shows. But Star Trek was the show that had something important to say. A Taste of Armegeddon. (anti-war); The Devil in the Dark (tolerance; new life forms); The Doomsday Machine (arms control) etc. Those shows were great episodes because they were intelligent..

The 2009 movie was dedicated to Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek. He wanted a mainstream entertainment. But he wanted quality, meaningful drama and substance. See letter of Roddenberry defending “The Cage” and Star Trek. Link.

Roddenberry defends “The Cage”

“No “message movie”?

Great. So basically what made Star Trek so revolutuonary is now officially dumped in the trash can in favour of “developing characters””

Yes. Thank goodness. Of course, Star Trek was neither unique nor revolutionary when it came to “messages,” or at least what fans have pretended was a message.

30. Keachick

Well, I guess that’s better than Uhura coming to the rescue, showing up pretty much naked, and having McCoy yell, “GANGBANG!”, as the three men rush towards her.

23. New BSG isn’t a spaceopera legend, just a terninator-like thriller without new ideas. So new BSG not BSG, – IMHO.

…and yes, we need message …and we need new tv-series.


I think vivid xxx entertainment is calling you harry, dont forget us when you win your aov award ;)

It doesn’t have to be a “message movie,” but SOME thought-provoking element would be nice. Trek ’09 was an entertaining flick and all. Nice, pretty explosions. Good acting. But not much on big ideas—unless “sticking a creature into someone to obtain information is a bad thing” was our lesson for the day… and we’d already been down that road, now hadn’t we? (Ceti eel)

They can at least include some new—NEW being the operative word here—“fascinating” sci-fi element to the story, something that makes you go hmmmmm (such as V’ger or the Genesis device).

Good interview.

I would like the sexiness taken up a just a notch. Everything else was amplified for the big screen experience in the last film.

Let’s do the West Bank in space. Spock’s all “we have already selected a suitable world to put all of the Vulcans on”; let’s go with the idea that it wasn’t so suitable after all.

@ 40

Yes, Vultan. They could put something in there to be thought provoking, dealing with ideas scientific and philosophical. That’s why it’s called science fiction. And no, you don’t need to preach to do so. Heck, some have complained about Star Trek TOS’ preaching but they don’t complain about Avatar’s in your face environmental message?


How is that any different than Wrath Of Khan?

@ 42 Greenberg

West Bank in space? Didn’t Mel Brooks already do that? Remember the end of History of the World, Part One. There was a segment called “Jews in Space.” Oy.



Even if a Trek movie doesn’t have an obvious message (like save the whales!), it should have something that tickles the viewer’s neurons, such as a torpedo that can reshape a planet or a massive probe in search of its creator or—yes, dare I say—a mysterious, mythical planet at the center of the galaxy.

one excuse after another as to why they cant write a decent script.

coming from guys that wrote transformers humping Megan fox.

give me a break. two years later and still no script. some one needs to fire these guys and hire some decent writers.

even the fans can do much better. They obviously arent into this or it would be done.

@ 47

I’m the only guy on the planet that didn’t see Transformers. But did you said “coming from guys tht wrote transformers humping Megan fox.” Hold on. The Transformers humped Megan Fox? Now I got to see that movie! :-)

#37 Harry, come on, that’s a bit over the top. No gangbanging on Star Trek!
and certainly not by Kirk/Spock/McCoy. They are decent gentle men!

#47 There is a script. Stop catastrophizing. Did you not read (and hear) them say that they could start filming and all easily in September? I got the impression this could even take place even earlier than September if need be. Of course, it should be happening now, but obviously JJ Abrams was not ready.