EXCLUSIVE: Damon Lindelof Talks Star Trek Sequel Secrecy, ‘Going Big’ at SDCC, Script Evolution, Prometheus & more

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.

First teaser image for Star Trek 2009 movie (released January 2008) – Lindelof says team is developing time table for sequel teaser and more

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.

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“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.”

That’s right.

I didn’t know that Hathaway was playing Selina Kyle! Whoa, what a spoiler! Seriously, I didn’t know that.

But I hope Star Trek’s game plan on not revealing, except in a measured way, any of the character or plot elements, works.

For me, the anticipation is, as they say, delicious.

Very cool.

For all your “Exclusive” features talk and a propensity to behave as if Trekmvoie.com is THE source for all Trek news, this was a good get Anthony. And really good questions too!

Absolutely spot on. A year is an awful long time still so why give too much away this early.

I enjoy the anticipation- it’s part of what makes being a fan such a wonderful thing. And oddly enough, I am enjoying this waning pre-trailer time, when the story can be nearly anything, and I can wonder about what little peeks we’ve seen.

But I will also enjoy the year to come, as excitement builds, trailers appear, and more hints, interviews, and comics show up. I’m taking things one article, interview, photo, and trailer at a time, savoring it all as it happens. The journey is as interesting as the destination, for me.

I kinda love that he uses the word “interwebs.” :-)

” We are always going to air on the side of …”

Shouldn’t that be “going to *err* on the side of…”

Just saying’.

Good article. Thanks.


why all the hate on Anthony DAVE R. I don’t know you, so I won’t go bashing you, but still, the fact that Anthony loves Star Trek enough, that he is willing to give his time to make this site work, is really cool. Can’t Mr. Pascale get a break. So what if the site ain’t 100% mind blowing all the time. That’s a hard act to achieve, so just lay off alright man.

One more thing….There use to be a segment that talked about all the Trek Actors that ever were and all the projects that are including them. I would like to see that again. Maybe once every few weeks. Just saying, Anthony.

In the end though, Thanks to Anthony for making this Site happen. I check out the news and such almost every day on thi site, and enjoy all the science articles, and the updates. Thanks a bunch man.

*sigh* Orci and company, we need something out there to remind people that this movie is coming. Heck, we’d all be happy with a fly-by of the Enterprise with Courage’s theme playing. Well, I’d be happy, anyways.

I like how he name-drops the Skrulls. Yeah, Damon, we know you got geek-cred!

Anyway, I am sorta getting won over by his and JJ’s secrecy. We will all know soon enough, and I am glad they have a time-table on releasing certain bits of info, similar to Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises. It’s all about playing it careful and smart.

I also am a fan of the evolving script. I think that it serves the story better to continually question the merits of scenes and dialogue rather than just “sticking to the script.”

George Lucas should take notes.

I’d be happy if they just announced the %&$*$ title already, nevermind if they “go big” at Comic-con.

I don’t know whether it has been corrected yet, but, I think Marion coillard in
“…I don’t know who Marion Coillard is playing. ” should read : Marion Cotillard.

I like what they are doing in keeping thing’s from us till later. Yes. It drives us all crazy and I know that Bob Orci loves to come in here and have fun with us. But still. It is a good thing.

“I know who Anne Hathaway is playing and who Tom Hardy is playing but those are major roles”

Yeah, but is Cumberpatch not in a “major role” in the new film? We knew who those two above were cast as before filming began…unless Cumberpatch is not a “major role” in the film, then Lindelof kinda contradicted himself. The TOTAL SECRECY does get kinda obnoxious after a while. It won’t ruin the film to know who the baddies are and who plays what character…didn’t ruin Dark Knight knowing that it has Bane, Catwoman and takes place 8 years after the 2nd film.


{{{shakes head}}}

Some fans have SUCH a sense of entitlement.

13. Not to be a dick, but I don’t understand the “people aren’t going to know about Trek!” alarm. Not your comment, specifically — but a bunch of similar ones, past and present. It’s a year away. They’ll be promoting the heck out of it.

I get the excitement and share it. But not the angry “how dare you keep secrets from us, don’t you guys now that you’re only able to make this thing because of us” stuff that happens here.

I still prefer to think of the secrecy as privacy — a year before release, the details of the movie are none of our business. I liked Pegg’s comment about impatience and nosiness and those who peddle spoilers. I also really wish those leaked scenes hadn’t been out there.

Anthony, do you ever question whether or not to put the spoilery stuff up (which is tough, because it’s usually out there already), and do you personally worry about finding out too much about this thing before it’s in theatres. Me, I don’t want to know too much.

I still remember being in school, being really busy and having no idea (after years of having read every preview article and every Trek movie novelization before I saw the movie) that Trek VI was coming out until a commercial on TNG a few weeks before. It was pretty thrilling — “there’s a new movie? And it’s out in three weeks!?” It was fantastic to be so surprised by everything while it was all happening — way better (for me) than the excitement of finding out some detail months before. I didn’t learn my lesson, and I ruined a few more Trek films for myself by scrounging the internet for every little detail.

#11 – TJTREK

“why all the hate on Anthony DAVE R.”

I don’t understand why you think DAVE R had “hate” in his post. Unless I’m missing some code, it was a very complimentary post.

How did you get “hate” from it?



My appologies for the language. Really just a turn of phrase. It felt to me, like DAVE R. was being condecending. If not, then I stand corrected.

Please do let me know if I am dead wrong Dave R. I wish not to be… “insulting” if I have no cause.

also, I just get up in arms when Trek fans want to bash thise site, for sometime very little reason. I have a tendency to pounce on these people sometimes, maybe when I shouldn’t. If this is one of this times, I take back what I have said.

I hope he doesn’t poison Trek with that pseudo-mysticism BS he seems to infuse in everything.

Also, I could see them still wearing that style of hat in the 23rd century. You know, like how the US military still wears Tri-Corner hats today…oh, wait…

I liked his anology RE: christmas presents. So true. We ARE children wanting to peak into JJ’s closet! : D

Its just the pent up demand amongst hard core fans that must be frustrating to the production crew.
But hey they delayed the first flick and this movie is delayed as well so maybe they have it coming.
Great read Anthony

To want to know, 11 months before the premiere of the movie, whether the villian is Khan or not (if it is not, you don’t have to tell us who it is, Mr. Abrams), is not unreasonable. IN EVERY previous Trek movie, by the time we were 11 months from the movie’s premiere, we had at least a tiny tiny inkling about either who the villain was, the storyline, hell, even a few pictures of what the aliens looked like, or even a “first poster” (which didn’t reveal much anyway). We knew this information, and the world did not come to an end. It would not come to an end tomorrow if, say, a still publicity photo were to be released today.

For the fans who don’t want to know anything about the new movie, don’t read this site or go out of your way to find out about new about the rest of the movie. Some of us would just like a morsel or two to chew on. That is not a crime.

I really like the term he’s coined: “pop culture storytelling”. That aside, a quick observation —

In every interview with these behind the scenes fanboy-poducers (not just Trek – but with every big budget, franchise spectacle movie these days) the powers that be talk as if the subject at hand is national security or something of extreme fragility.

I mean, compare this interview with any political statement or discussion with David Axelrod — or with one of Romney’s advisors,– it’s the same sort of talk. It reminds me of the way CEO’s or marketing execs speak about their companies –always shilling up and protecting the brand.

Do I dare quote Shatner’s SNL tirade?

Not that they shouldn’t of course. Maybe, I’m just missing the days of catching a quick clip of Harve Bennett or Nimoy on Entertainment Tonight talking about the next movie and actually feeling some excitement as opposed to all this calculated strategy.

“I must be getting senile…”

I don’t want to know major plot points such as how they kill off Khan, etc. :-) But if they do something unusual like parallel universes, then I want to know so I can get it right. Last time, they had Uhura throw out the line “alternate reality” and I had to come to this website to get it right. Hey, the excellent Source Code had the same problem. They threw out the term “quantum mechanics” and expected everyone to know that we’re talking about parallel universes.

Just remember screenwriters, “I’m a blogger, not a physicist.”

Well I, for one am getting seriously pissed off at this total secrecy policy. I know all movies are entitled to a certain degree of confidence regarding plot details and stuff of that sort, but this is just absolutely beyond the pale, completely ridiculous and downright stupid. I mean seriously, how much harm can it be to know the name of the villain? How can it be so terrible if we find out that Klingons are in the film? And I suppose it would be completely catastrophic to the entire box office success of the movie, the careers of both the actors & production staff and the business survival of all production companies working on the project if we learn that there’s a slight variation in the officer’s uniform worn while not aboard ship.

Normally I would say “I’m sorry for exaggerating”, but today I’m not! I’m not exaggerating because the filmmakers have gone so bloody far with the stupidity of this secrecy crap that I would not be at all surprised if they were this insanely paranoid!!


Well I, for one am getting seriously pissed off at this total secrecy policy. I know all movies are entitled to a certain degree of confidence regarding plot details and stuff of that sort, but this is just absolutely beyond the pale, completely ridiculous and downright stupid. I mean seriously, how much harm can it be to know the name of the villain? How can it be so terrible if we find out that Klingons are in the film? And I suppose it would be completely catastrophic to the entire box office success of the movie, the careers of both the actors & production staff and the business survival of all production companies working on the project if we learn that there’s a slight variation in the officer’s uniform worn while not aboard ship.

Normally I would say “I’m sorry for exaggerating”, but today I’m not! I’m not exaggerating because the filmmakers have gone so bloody far with the stupidity of this secrecy crap that I would not be at all surprised if they were this insanely paranoid!!


12. Anthony Pascale said “I really need to get one of those slaves (interns)”

busted a gut laughing on this one

Great interview. For me, this is the only source to check daily. Thank you LLP

What is ironic is that JJ, as a fanboy himself, is most likely doing the ‘ultimate secrecy’ thing just to play with the few hundred thousand fans who give a shit about such things (us).

The millions of cinema-goers required to make ST(NEW)2 a blockbuster will receive their trailers and TV bits just in time to make an educated guess as to whether or not the film is worth the expense.

My worry is: now’s the time to start.

fanboy |ˈfanˌboi|
informal derogatory. an obsessive male fan (usually of movies, comic books, or science fiction).

It’s not supposed to be a good thing. “You can ACT LIKE A MAN!”

Prometheus is getting mixed reviews…i guess its already out in England…looks like 50-50 in reviews…Still going opening day


“My review will be up later this week, but in short I liked it”

Good to know!


No. Now is not the time to start. The movie doesn’t come out for a year. Obviously we’ll get bits and pieces here and there, but the major marketing won’t start until closer to release.

Plenty of time for people to make a decision on whether they want to see the movie or not.

“Prometheus” was released here in Britain a few days ago, and I just saw the movie earlier today.

No spoilers from me. I won’t even say anything about how good (or not) the movie is and whether it lives up to all the hype. You’ll have to check it out for yourself. Try to see it on the biggest screen you can find.

But, one piece of advice: Make sure you read through everything on the fake “Weyland Industries” website before you see Prometheus, because it explains a lot about the actual context of the movie’s events. Prometheus is fine as a standalone piece, but it does help you understand everything much better if you’re aware of all that background information.

It’ll be interesting to see what Ridley Scott does with the inevitable “special extended director’s cut” DVD version of the movie.

The sequel should be very interesting too, if there is one. Ridley Scott has recently given a few interviews where he’s said Prometheus answers some questions but raises a lot more questions. He’s right. And Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof have both recently said they’re definitely very keen to create a sequel if there’s demand from fans…

The thing is, the thrown bone doesn’t just stay here, it goes global instantly. The spoilers I’ve heard so far didn’t come from looking at the spoiler postings on this site (say the rumour of a particular villain), they came from opening up a newspaper or a non-fanboy website. These things spread.

33. Now’s the time to start? A year away? How ’bout just knowing that a Trek movie’s coming out, which they know – a few of the actors did the talk shows or interviews, sometimes for other projects, during filming… Trek got mentioned plenty – with the avengers, nobody needed to know that Loki was the villain (no, this wasn’t a secret, but nobody but fanboys cared), they just needed to know that there was an Avengers movie coming out. And, plus, the bit about ________ at the end of the Avengers stayed a secret.

Man, would you guys have whined with TMP that we didn’t know the identity of the villain until the end of the movie?

Plus, all this whining creates free publicity…

21. It’s been 3 years without a word out there among the general public. We Trekkies have been hitting up news sites like crazy for any word on the new movie. But there really hasn’t been anything said on normal news sources. That’s why I think a simple teaser, like the one I described, would be good right now. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or even a scene from the film. The first teaser for ST2009 wasn’t seen in the movie at all.

So I know that this far out from the release date accurate information is hard to come by on movie sites likes IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes, but why does Benicio del Toro’s Rotten Tomatoes page still list him as having a part in the Star Trek sequel (http://www.rottentomatoes.com/celebrity/benicio_del_toro/).

Could that Khan cameo by del Toro still be possible, with Cumberbatch playing Joachim following Khan’s untimely death?

@ 33


I remember you said that Star Trek also needs toys to endear itself to future fans. I thought about this and I agree. I remember as a kid, having Enterprise models. During the TNG years, there were action figures and toy phasers. The gap between movies makes a marketing problem, if Paramount and CBS don’t put out products based on the franchise. I certainly understand the fear that CBS might have with a new TV show. I don’t agree with CBS but nothing should stop Paramount or CBS from putting out toys. At least there’s going to be a videogame. But I hope it comes out way before the next movie. Say in Januaury of 2013, just in time to get the masses excited.

Fantastic interview! I’m really enjoying it so far!

And you know, this is going to be a really random side note that I’m sure won’t add anything to the conversation at hand, but oh well and just bear with me.

I haven’t followed any of the spoilers, like, ANY of them. When I even see a glimpse of a spoiler, I’m the fan who quickly shuts her eyes screaming “LA LA LA”, so I really can’t (and won’t) speak intelligently on the subject, but even I will admit that I would have had to find the biggest rock, in the darkest cave, in the furthest reaches of the globe to not hear the whole “Kahn” speculation.

That being said (here comes the random part) you know that one guy in Back to the Future II where his only memorable line is “…took his wallet.” I envision one or more Trekkies sitting in front of their dozen computer screens and on one of those headsets linked to others just like him, pouring over each spoiler and then saying, “Hey. Do you think it’s Kahn?” Next spoiler: “It’s Kahn.” Next: “Oh yeah, it’s totally Kahn.” Next one: “OMG!!! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S KAHN!!!!” And finally: “Well….I guess it COULD be Kahn.”

Random I know, but it gave me a good laugh, and really, on a Monday afternoon, wha more could you ask for??


31. Ciaran – June 4, 2012:; Well I, for one am getting seriously pissed off at this total secrecy policy.

Well said Ciaren–amen! I live for spoilers– I think they actually enhace the movie going experience. What harm would revealing a villain’s name do to the box office?! i mean, really. It’s a movie– not a US military strategy.

Throw us fans a bone!

@30: If you’re getting “seriously pissed off” about a lack of movie publicity, then you very much need to relax and get a sense of perspective. Go for a jog. Grab a snack. Get naked with the person of your choice. Eat a pastry. Getting outraged that you don’t yet know the details of a film not coming out for another year-plus, though… damn. That’s a perfect expression of over-the-top, melodramatic nerd rage.

Well I don’t live for spoilers, I just want SOMETHING official about the film so I know a LITTLE about what to expect. For me, just knowing that the primary cast are back and that it’s set in space just isn’t enough for me.


Hey, genius, nobody’s been clamoring for “Kahn”. Nobody even knows who this “Kahn” fellow is anyway. I’m not aware of there being a “Kahn” character in the 45 year history of Trek.

If you’re talking about the guy from “Space Seed” and “The Wrath Of Khan”, the correct spelling is K-H-A-N.

Sheesh. Khan is one of the easiest words to spell. Why do so many of you mispell it as “Kahn”?

I agree with everything that AJ says. And I agree with BB, too.

But I will address the piss-poor marketing attempts of the first movie and hope that they don’t repeat that for this next movie.

I am no expert, but I would have to say as far as marketing a movie goes, in terms of product tie-ins, ST09 might have been the worst effort in recent history. You want to appeal to a new and younger set of fans and so you get Playmates toys to launch a line of toys that are somewhat mediocre when compared to other lines and to top it off Playmates drops the license before completing the run leaving kids (like my own) with incomplete sets. No books for my kids to read (my kids read LOT’S of books). No models for them to build (OK I build them too).

And now we have the famous veil of secrecy. Of course the fans are going to gripe about it. We like to have fresh stuff to talk to each other about. In the 70’s before the rebirth you should have seen how stale and boring our conventions could get. We had to make stuff up on our own just to have something to talk about. But once the movies started again, there was a relatively great number of sources for getting info. I remember seeing pics of the new Enterprise bridge being constructed and snippets of what the plot was going to center on while reading Starlog. I remember reading about Spock dying in TWOK. I remember reading about whether or not they find Spock in TSFS and the time travel plot of The One With The Whales. So this is not a new phenomenon, us Trek fans getting some advance news on an upcoming movie. And with Next Gen we got merchandise. Oh lordy, so much merchandise!

I know so many people love ST09, and I really enjoyed watching it too. But it’s naive to ignore the obvious mis-steps that JJ and Paramount have taken in regards to Star Trek. If you don’t happen to agree that’s OK, just offer some intelligent counterpoint. But don’t go around labeling those of us who want a scrap of news as being “entitled” just because that’s the trendy word of the day. And don’t act as if Star Trek fans criticizing the very thing they love as if it’s a new phenomenon, either. Any old fan will tell you that THAT’S been a part of Star Trek fandom since the 60’s.

Bring back Micro Machines… or something like them. Those little starships were great!


Yes. Yes they were.