In an exclusive interview with TrekMovie.com Star Trek sequel co-writer producer Damon Lindelof talks about the secrecy behind the movie, the team’s plan for "rolling out" details, his hopes for a teaser trailer at Comic-con, and the evolution of the script during shooting. I also talk to him about his other big movie Prometheus (opening this weekend) Check it all out below, and don’t worry there are no spoilers.
Exclusive Interview: Damon Lindelof on the Star Trek sequel (Part 1)
Here is the first part of my interview with Star Trek sequel co-writer/producer Damon Lindelof
TrekMovie.com: There has been a lot of stuff reported about the Star Trek sequel recently and you guys have a policy of not commenting so I wont ask. But, there does seem to be a different approach to Star Trek than with many other films like with Superman and Batman. When they did their casting it was this guy is Zod, or that guy is Bane, etc. But you guys take a different approach and won’t even confirm who is playing what character. Why is that? Is there something unique to Trek or is it a JJ thing?
Damon Lindelof: First off, I agree with what you are talking about in terms of Superman, like Russell Crowe is playing Jor El or Michael Shannon is playing Zod. But actually I feel that Christopher Nolan doesn’t do that. I have no idea who Joseph Gordon-Levitt is playing in Dark Knight Rises, I don’t know who Marion Cotillard is playing. I know who Anne Hathaway is playing and who Tom Hardy is playing but those are major roles and we are still a year out and I think our sort of desire to be secretive is really just driven by a timetable in which the movie comes out a year from now and we don’t want to flood the Interwebs with confirmations. We want to leave some air of mystery and intrigue surrounding the movie. Because as much as people clamor for information, I really fundamentally believe they don’t want to know. It is modulating that desire between "I know that my Christmas presents are in my parents closet and if I open it up I can see what I will get." But, on Christmas morning when you see those same gifts under the tree, you know what’s inside and there is a part of you that wishes you hadn’t peeked. So it is up to us to lock the closet tight.
Just to flip over to Prometheus for a second. Once you cross over that line of where there is too much information out there, there is no going back. So you are either in a space of "I wish I knew more about this thing" or now you are in a space where you know too much. It is really hard to stop at the just right point. We are always going to err on the side of "I wish I knew more." That has always been JJ’s brand since the beginning and something that always made sense to me. I want to walk into Avengers and not know if there are Skrulls in it. That is the way I like to consume pop culture storytelling.
Damon Lindelof on the set of "Prometheus" [Kerry Brown/20th Century Fox]
TrekMovie.com: So do you feel that in April 2013 there will be commercials on TV, just like with Prometheus, and at that point it will be confirmed who is playing what role in the Star Trek movie? Or are you going to play this all the way to the end?
Damon Lindelof: It’s impossible to play it all the way to the end. Right now we are in phase one, which is you haven’t seen anything. Nobody knows anything. There are paparazzi telephoto shots out there of Benedict and Zachary fighting each other, but those aren’t images we chose to release and therefore we can acknowledge that they are out there and we aren’t happy about it, but we aren’t going to contextualize them because we didn’t put that stuff out there. Once there is something out there – with the teaser trailer likely the first thing – then there will be stuff to talk about. You will begin to see these characters in a certain context.
Again I think The Dark Knight Rises analogy is a version where it is done right, which is the first time we saw Anne Hathaway in that context we understood she was Selina Kyle, but we weren’t sure yet if Selina Kyle was going to be Catwoman in this movie. And then in the next trailer, there she is as Catwoman. There is a kind of gradation in the marketing and a kind of slow burn and slow reveal based on what we are decided to show you versus what we are deciding to say.
TrekMovie.com: Speaking of showing things, you had mentioned you hoped to show something at Comic Con this summer, what is the latest on that? Teaser trailer?
Damon Lindelof: I’m not going to confirm or deny that. Our feeling is, that if we can get something together that is worthy of showing on that timetable, then we will most certainly show it. But, if it is sub-par or not ready or requires more post-production, then nobody at Comic Con is going to want to hear us say "hey this is very temporary, but we wanted to show you something." We need to put our best foot forward. We just wrapped principal photography as you know and Comic Con is in mid July so it is an aggressive timetable. If we are going to go we are going to go big or not go at all.
TrekMovie.com: One of the biggest differences with the production of this movie was that you didn’t have to deal with a WGA strike. There was some talk – like with Zach [Quinto] – about how the script "evolved" during shooting this time. So how how substantial was this evolution? And was this more coming from JJ or more the actors?
Damon Lindelof: It functioned more in the television model. The thing that did not change from the moment we started until the day that we wrapped was what were the scenes in the movie. So here is a scene on the bridge and Spock, Kirk and McCoy are arguing about this thing. That scene is still in the movie, but when we got to three or four days before shooting that scene and we are sitting in video village talking about it, sometimes an issue is brought up by JJ, sometimes by Alex [Kurtzman], Bob [Orci] and I who are saying we never really felt like we got this thing there. Or now that we have been watching the relationship develop in this way we need to pay it off here. Or it comes from the actors who are – in addition to being super talented – really dialed in to the story. They ask very good questions. So we would have a conversation and rewriting would occur. That happened a fair amount over the first six weeks of principal photography. At that point, because there is a bit of time-travel effect when you are rewriting. If you are shooting a scene that takes place on page 65 and you rewrite it, you have got to go rewrite stuff that precedes it so that it pays off something earlier in the movie and then you have to rewrite the stuff after because there is a ripple effect.
Most of the stuff that we did – I would say 85% of the rewriting once production started – was all character-based. It was all about the relationship between characters. Dialog stuff. Amping up the conflicts. Paying off the friendships and relationships. And 15% was production-related. So budget or time related. Do we need this scene? Can we live without this scene? Where else can we play this information, etc. etc. So there was definitely more rewriting on the set this time around, but if there hadn’t been a strike, I think that is how we would have done it last time.
Read my new Damon Lindelof Prometheus Interview at Movies.com
I also talked to Damon about his new movie Prometheus, opening this Friday. You can read that interview at Movies.com.
Damon Lindelof with actor Michael Fassbender on the set of "Prometheus"
[Kerry Brown/20th Century Fox]
Part 2 of my Star Trek interview with Damon will go up tomorrow here at TrekMovie.com.