Exclusive Video Interview: Simon Pegg On A More Serious Scotty, Budgineering, Star Trek Critics & more

Last week at the final stop on his mini book tour for his memoir "Nerd Do Well," Star Trek’s Simon Pegg sat down with TrekMovie.com to talk about growing up nerd, geeking out on Star Trek, critiques of the film, getting more serious with the role of Scotty in the sequel and more. Watch the video interview below.


Interview with Simon Pegg

Here is my video interview with Simon Pegg, Star Trek’s new Scotty, with text highlights and some quotes below


  • Pegg believes that being a nerd (and fans of things like Star Trek) isn’t the same thing as it was when growing up in the 70s and 80s, and it has now been "appropriated" by the mainstream
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series was Pegg’s "gateway" into Star Trek, didn’t start watching original series until age nine
  • Made an appointment every night to watch original Star Trek series reruns as a kid on BBC2
  • Getting a chance to work with Leonard Nimoy was "kind of distracting when trying to act – in the back of my mind I was ‘That’s Spock!’"
  • "Geeked out" when stepped on to bridge of Enterprise for the first time was "like Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon."
  • On approach to character of Scotty "I certainly didn’t want to do an impression of James Doohan [but] approach it like [he] did, I’m going to say this is the character and this is how I am going to play it"
  • Defends "Budgineering" Engineering redress, Echoing Abrams goal of showing the scale of Enterprise as a "huge ship" with an "an industrial heart" and getting away from "this room with a glowing tube in the middle" but says he "gets" the critique
  • Regarding critiques of the coincidence meetings in Star Trek he notes "that is the point! This is reality dragging itself back together" 

Simon Pegg in "Star Trek" – at found it distracting to work with the "The Spock" (Leonard Nimoy)

Some key quotes:

Noting that the role of Scott in 2009’s Star Trek included a lot of humor, I asked Pegg on if his Scotty can also take on some of the more serious side of the original character, including taking command of the ship.

Simon Pegg: When I took the role of Scotty, I never looked at him as a comic character as such. He has always been a whimsical character, because of his background and is almost like an ethnic minority on board ship. There is something lyrical and fanciful about him. There is something about him that has whimsy, they all do at times even Spock. But I always thought that was what was in the script, he was marooned on that planet for a long time and he got on the ship and everything was kicking off and his reaction was almost like our reaction to it all. So yeah I absolutely hope so. I don’t think Scotty is a comic character at all. In this Star Trek he was thrust into everything, and he learned all this stuff about his own discoveries. He was brought on board the ship where everything was crazy and for him, that was a comic situation. I would like to hope that in future adventures he can find the sort of depth and seriousness that James Doohan had to tackle in the series.

I also talked to Pegg about those who are as critical of the 2009 Star Trek film as he is of the Star Wars prequels. He replied:

Simon Pegg: I get it. I have faith in our Star Trek. I like what JJ [Abrams] did. He invigorated it, which is what it needed to persist. What perhaps those fans love about Star Trek is something that might not have been able to continue if Star Trek was to in its present form. Basically Star Trek had to be given a dose of sort of Star Wars brashness – original Star Wars – that kind of inspirational adventure and excitement and less about the way computers work and stuff like that. But I get it and I totally respect it. And I hope those people don’t see us as enemies, but of course that is a valid opinion. These kind of things are precious and mean everything to everyone. We weren’t going to please everyone. At least I hope they understand our intentions were absolutely honorable.

Simon Pegg in "Star Trek" – defends use of Budweiser plant for engineering + felt Star Trek needed injection of some Star Wars “brashness” 

If you want to pick up Simon’s new memoir "Nerd Do Well" (which is recommended by TrekMovie.com) it is now available at bookstores in North America, and on Amazon.com.


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In that close up, he looks like he’s wearing a watch.

Love the Peggster!

I liked his Scotty. I think Mr. Doohan would have liked it too.

urgh enough with Star Wars. Trek isn’t Star Wars. We have Star Wars for when we want Star Wars.

Just one voice, I know, but I liked his Scotty, I liked Budgineering and I am looking forward to the next film: no changes to either. For the new Engineering, I liked the concept that we see the inner guts of the ENTERPRISE: that despite technological advancements we stil have pipes and steel, dirt and grime.

Really good interview
Good job!

I agree. I think the pipes and things made it very concrete, a real machine. I wasn’t asked to just have faith that these glowing crystals were doing the job. I come from a blue collar family, machinists and steel workers. I loved the down and dirty feel to the Enterprise. I also had an opportunity to meet Mr. pegg at one of his book signings. As funny and charming in person as I expected. I “canna” wait to see him reprise his role as Scotty again.

I found the engine room to be passable. I think they should have gone for more of a 50/50 split of high tech and low tech.

It was more like 90% low tech with about 10% touch screen monitors.

I like the idea on paper but I think it looked a little 2009 and not enough 23rd century.

Funny–just yesterday I took a peek at Pegg’s new book recounting his career and life at the local Barnes & Noble. Hardly two words about Trek, surprisingly, but plenty of dish (if that’s what you’re in the market for) on his reactions to the STAR WARS prequels that began with the crushing disappointment he experienced at a screening of The Phantom Menace. To hear Pegg tell it, the bit of his soul that was the relationship he’d had with something he’d cherished since childhood, died on that day.

Right there with ya, Simon. Only my Waterloo came on May 8, 2009.

I think if the Bud Engine Room could be adjusted to meet the TOS Movie engine room half-way, I could live with that integration. I just need to see something that hints at 23rd century technology. If instead of the Budweiser Plant that had used the Large Hadron Collider in France, that would be have been a better solution to cover what they intended I think.

Much as I hate to admit it, Simon probably has a point about the disparity between traditional Trek and the expectations of modern genre fans. Would Classic Trek in its original form be a hit today, in syndication or otherwise? Probably not.
That doesn’t mean purists have to love the 2009 film and the dis-unity-verse it creates, but perhaps they need not treat the perpetrators as villains.

@8. Well Dexter, my mini-Waterloo for this week came with reading your post here.

Very nice work. Well done! Keep up TrekMovie :)

@10. Yea, original Trek today might fare like Firefly and the follow-up Serenity movie…it would gain a reasonably sized niche following, but not enough critical mass to evolve into a franchise.


I understand your point, but “Star Trek” had to be modernized for today’s audiences. That meant adding a little bit of “Star Wars” to shake things up a bit.


Agreed! I don’t mind the pipes, as they add realism (heck, even the Enterprise E and Defiant had plenty of pipes) but I’d prefer the brewery they are using as engineering look less like a brewery and more like an engine room. There are plenty of ways to do that without needing a big blue glowing tube. The brewery was just to jarring and clearly didn’t match the Enterprise esthetics.

#14 Shake things up or shake things down? You pays yer money on that one, Ryan. ;-)

#8 Kapowwww! That was quite a sting in the tail there. I never even saw it coming! I don’t entirely agree with you but I do admire the execution!


With todays special effects they could have used the bud set and inserted much more advanced looking effects and still get to keep the sheer size and realism of a starship.


I was thinking the same thing, looks like he has on his ring and watch for that shot

@16: “#8 Kapowwww! That was quite a sting in the tail there. I never even saw it coming! I don’t entirely agree with you but I do admire the execution!”

They don’t call him Dexter for nothing! :-)

I agree with you totally, Anthony. I have no problem with a big, industrial engineering section, but this one didn’t jibe with the rest of the sets. It was too obviously a brewery. I recognized it immediately, and I was taken out of the film. To me, it’s the greatest flaw in the flick.

Ha ha. “Room with a glowing tube in the middle.” Described that way, it does seem a bit silly.

Every time I read the word “budgineering” I think/visualise budgies (or budgerigars), indigenous to Australia. I see a pair perched on one of those pipes in the Enterprise’s budgineering. Can’t help it – that is the first thing I think of.


I am posting this link as I was surprised to hear that Reese Witherspoon, among others, had to ask Robert Pattinson what a budgie was on a recent Graham Norton show episode. I just wonder if lots of other people don’t know what a budgie is…


I know what a budgie is, chirp chirp

I think the engineering set looked great… if the movie was about a modern ship at sea. Otherwise, they should look more to NASA than the Navy for inspiration. See the interior of the space shuttle for example. Sure, it’s rough in places, but nothing like a brewery.

And I’d like to think in a couple hundred years spaceships, even along the lower decks, would be a bit more… uh, sleek—you know, more like that nail salon/Apple store Abrams used for a bridge and less like the coal-shovelers deck aboard Titanic.

I didn’t really have a big problem with the engineering set at the time. Oddly enough I do now! Go figure!
Over a smelly old brewery or a futuristic looking glowy light thingy I think, on balance, i’d prefer the futuristic looking glowy light thingy.

Been a while since we’ve bumped posts, Vults! How you doing my friend?

As for Trek being remade in Star Wars’ image, I think that’s a totally wrong assumption. It was obviously Flash Gordon they injected into Trek!

Only on Mongo would you find the sort of man-being-teleported-into-water-pipes or massive-starship-being-built-on-good-farmland level of silliness we saw in the Trek ’09 serial—I mean, movie.

Can’t wait to see my fellow Hawkmen in the sequel… in 2018.
Is Brian Blessed available?


I’m doing okay, Buzz. Trying to endure the miserable heat of another Oklahoma summer.

“I’m meeeeelllttting! What a world… what a world…”

#26 I can see it now, Blessed bellowing GEORGE KIRK IS ALIVE!

Miserable heat? I hear we are supposed to be nudging 25c this weekend- which is enough to have us thinking of heading to the coast lol
What temps. are you getting?

Ah, I just took a look. Yes indeed, nudging 90F! that is hot! You have air-con i assume? or do you go for a drive to cool down? lol



No, I know he’s alive, and it would be awesome to see him in another sci-fi flick… perhaps with his good friend Patrick Stewart. Their voices could move mountains!

Yeah, 90F is just the beginning, Buzz. We should top out around 108 or 110F around late August… and then there’s the heat index, which will make it feel like 115! Thank God for air con, or else I would have to move to a cooler place. I hear Siberia is nice… :-o

15. Agreed. There were a few scenes (the security guard chase) that took me out of the film. And there’s something to that whole idea of the (original) Star Wars brashness, which is more about pacing and energy (which TOS often had) than theme.

I loved when Scotty took Command. Friday’s Child, ect. I hope we get more of the badass Scotty in the next film and less zany Scotty

Here I am often cold and it can be so damp because it is so wet, wet, wet. We have had rain and more rain and then there’s that rain again… (The only advantage is that even in the hottest, driest summer, Auckland rarely has a water shortage). Gotta love the weather…

I don’t have a problem with Star Wars type special effects and production values. But the problem is that Star Trek is not Star Wars. Star Wars is science fantasy. Star Trek is science ficiton. Along with the adventure, Star Trek is about exploring ideas scientific and philosophical. Many Trekkers point the 2009 movie went back to the TOS roots. Yet, the TOS had ideas in many episodes.

I’ve pointed out many episodes had science fiction and philosophical ideas. For example, Spinrad’s “The Doomsday Machine” took on arms control, A Taste ot Armageddon- war; Mirror, Mirror-parallel universes. And on and on. I’m not in favor of turning a great science fiction show into a shallow adventure movie. And don’t get me wrong, I like Star Trek 2009. It was a very good space adventure movie.

Since the 2009 movie was dedicated to creator Gene Roddenberry, maybe we should look to him what he wanted for Star Trek. He wanted an entertainment that had substance. And if you saw Nichelle Nichols in the PBS documentary about pioneers of TV science fiction, she got Gene to admit he was writing morality plays. Now I don’t think Star Trek must go the “in your face” message like Avatar but the new movie should offer ideas. Scientific or philosophical And by the way, Avatar’s in your face environmentalism didn’t hurt the movie at the box office.

1. Nichelle Nichols gets Roddenberry to admit that in Star Trek, he was wrting morality plays. (2::00 mark of embedded video.)

2. Roddenberry wants Star Trek to also have substance along with mass audience appeal.

I don’t mind that Engineering Room. A few more sci-fi touches would have been welcome though to get a better low tech / high tech balance.

And I support JJ Abrams’s shot in the arm regarding the new movie’s pulse. The “brashness” Simon mentions, I personally tend to think the Original Series had it in its own sixties way.

In fact, the original movies lacked that quality and people got used to it. JJ Abrams brought it back – 2009 standards – and it is welcome.

Addendum: I watched Irvin Kershner’s RoboCop 2 the other day – no masterpiece but no turkey either, by the way. Those interested will recognize that huge engineering corridor where Uhura works. RoboCop2 was shot at the Budweiser factory!

You did great as Scotty Simon. May the force be with you.

Engineering looked like the earth bound 20th century factory that it was and took me out the movie in every scene, very untrek like and just didn’t work for me at all..I find it very hard to believe it would harm the movie if something more futuristic, powerful looking, and space age replaced it

By all rights, in the second film we need to see a little more of the engineer side of Scotty. The first film was brilliant at establishing his personality but the second needs to establish why expelling him to a small outpost was the worst decision Starfleet made.

34 And I support JJ Abrams’s shot in the arm regarding the new movie’s pulse. The “brashness” Simon mentions, I personally tend to think the Original Series had it in its own sixties way.

agreed! Same with humor — the characters were often funny, and whimsical (I’m glad Pegg used the word, it fits) but never, really, ridiculous. The joke wasn’t usually on them in the way it was in say, Trek V, or even parts of IV.

I’m still not a fan of the off-the-rack desktop LCD monitors used in some of the set design, it would be like seeing a TV set on the set of TOS (like in Pike’s quarters in the cage, or the CRT screens in Trek 2) I get that they’re trying to avoid the CGI-heavy set design of say, Green Lantern, and have as much as possible on set for the actors to engage with, and, yes, to keep it real, and on budget, but yeah. Just whining. And then there was that Dyson hand dryer in sickbay. And the helm that just seemed to have banks of LEDs on it.

I hope he doesn’t tone Scotty down entirely in the next one. Let’s see what the story demands… those Entertainment Tonight interviews where Trek actors would say “in this one you’ll see a side of _________ you’ve never
seen before” never seemed to bode well.

33. Avatar’s message wasn’t only in your face, it was less nuanced and clunkier than a Captain Planet episode. And it worked okay because it was a cartoon, and a shoot-’em-up adventure. I worry that squeezing in a really clunky message that we already constantly hear is the equivalent of those Scary Movie movies that just reference other movies without actually telling
jokes or doing anything new. TOS wasn’t the only ’60s series doing morality plays — heck, look at a lot of Westerns. That said, the Dark Knight characters said its themes aloud, and repeatedly, and it was still a good movie. i guess i just hope for a little more subtlety and, maybe, ambiguity. I’ve said it before, but I still think what Roddenberry showed (this group of professionals united by a desire to explore, gain knowledge and, yes, help others… especially back when the women were still wearing pants) had more impact than the very few taken-from-today’s-headlines episodes (what was the point of a Private Little War?). My point is, I want a good story about these characters first…

Ps. star wars, even as space opera, had social themes, beyond light vs. darkness — the power of diversity (the empire was all white guys), the importance of resistance, the dangers of apathy towards tyranny (Pre-Ben Luke hates the empire, but, heck, what can he do about it?), and, heck, the
battle of Endor was even Avatar-light.

Love Simon Pegg, from Spaced onwards. He was great in Doctor Who in season one. And fantastic in his small role in Black Books.
Shaun of the Dead is the best film this country has produced for years, and Hot Fuzz is as good.
Haven’t seen Paul, but will soon.
Can’t wait for the third film in the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy.
Get on with it boys!

I didn’t have any issues with the industrial location either. As a video editor, I tread the line between blue-collar and white-collar: while I get to use swish computers, I also spend a good deal of time in and out of machine rooms, pulling cables out of machines and so on. So I hope we keep the industrial location with a touch more set-dressing!

As for the Star Wars ‘brashness,’ a movie series needs it, whereas on TV it might not work. I don’t care about the whole ‘What would Gene Roddenberry want?’ argument. Gene Roddenberry has been dead for 20 years, so his opinions have no relevance to modern TV and film production.

What I believe he wouldn’t have wanted to see was Star Trek’s slow death in the 1990s and early 2000s, the death of Kirk, the mocking label of ‘the McDonalds of sci-fi.’ ST09 brought Trek out of that ghetto, it brought unreconstructed TOS fans like me back after I’d long accepted that Trek had moved on in a direction I didn’t like and had left it behind.

And ST09 fitted the core idea of Trek perfectly: Leonard Nimoy’s Spock travels beyond the final frontier, encountering new life and new civilisations.

Great film, awesome Ben (Star Wars) Burtt sound FX, great, dynamic visual FX the return of handheld cameras (STVI and even Where No Man Has Gone Before used them well) and cool lens flares!! Can’t wait for the next one!

The new engineering was horrible. Doesn’t loo like the interior of a starship, doesn’t look like Starfleet, doesn’t fit to the rest of the ship, doesn’t look like any engineering we have seen before.

Even if they like the idea of all the pipes and tubes, you can’t hava an engineering without a real warpcore.

I hope they will modify the engineering for the next movie.

Relieved he doesn’t see Scotty as comedy character. Scotty is a character who earned his comedy moments based upon the principles the Scotty is a hard-working, no-nonsense, genius. Once those characteristics are established the comic moments shine through. That’s what is so loveable about Scotty.

Must admit I would love to see Scotty take command once again in Kirk and Spock’s abscence… that’s when his qualities are shown. Love the episodes where he makes command decisions that baffle the rest of the crew but ultimately save the day.

The whole damn ship is engineering. We were only looking at one deck of it. Perhaps it was the water-handling and primary coolant reprocessing level. The “classic” TOS level could be just above, unfinished, because the Big E had to launch early with a crew of cadets.

It’ll be done next Tuesday when the shiny blue tube arrives on the big brown UPS spaceship.

3. Agreed 100%.

I agree with Anthony on comment 15, the lack of dressing for the Engine Room took me out of the film a little and I did not buy it as an engine room of a starship, especially in the sequence when Kirk and Scotty are running from security.

A good engine room design would be the Enterprise E engine room.

Pegg does point out the one sad thing about mainstream modern cinema, that the style of stories from the past won’t work anymore.

I do think it’s sad that you need fast shots and explosions to make a film these days to keep the younger audiences entertained. To me that suggests that the current kids anre being dumbed down. And I agree with Pegg it was what was required to make Star Trek appeal again. As I said before the mainstream is a double edged sword. Hard core fans have to accept these changes in order to keep Trek alive.

I am talking about the current trend generally, not anything in particular. But I applaud Abrams for keeping the spiirt of Trek alive and the feel of the characters in this more Star Wars influenced era of Trek.

46. Hard core fans have to accept these changes in order to keep Trek alive.

No, we do not.
Just because CBS and Paramount can do with Star Trek as they see fit, doesn’t mean we have to like it or accept it.

I actually liked the look of the engineering set – I always, in spite of the futuristic technology involved, found the idea of a transparent tube that could contain the pressure & radiation of a power source equal in intensity to a small star somewhat implausible – and so the idea of representing the reactors with the metal vats worked well for me.

My only issue was with the fact that there was clearly no way those “reactors” could be connected to the warp nacelles. Simply using a bit of CGI to composite-in some magnetic conduits leading-up into the ceiling of the compartment – styled after, as MJ @9 suggested, the LHC at CERN – would’ve given it that sense of connected realism.

Daoud @44 also makes a good point that I’d thought of too, that the engineering decks could’ve been unfinished (granted, we do see see engineering looking the same at the end of the movie, but even that could be explained by Starfleet rushing the Enterprise back out of port again after replacing the reactors as so many other ships had been destroyed & they needed as many active vessels as possible).

Sorry, I just didn’t buy into the idea that was Engineering.

Water reclamation? Coolent pipes for the warp drive, somewhere else on the ship. But not Engineering.


I don’t like all the changes but I understand why they did them.