Exclusive: Kurtzman & Orci Talk Reveal Of ‘Into Darkness’ Villain Name

Yesterday Benedict Cumberbatch’s Star Trek Into Darkness character finally got a name, but this name didn’t exactly line up with what we had been lead to believe about the character. Luckily TrekMovie had a chance to dig deeper into this by talking to two of the film’s screenwriters: Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. See what they had to say, but again beware of spoilers.


Kurtzman and Orci Talk John Harrison and Star Trek Canon

The biggest topic of the Trekverse today seems to be about “John Harrison,” the name Paramount has finally given to Benedict Cumberbatch’s character for Star Trek Into Darkness. As reported yesterday by TrekMovie, this name is definitely used in the movie and isn’t some kind of code name being used for marketing. However, we have been lead to believe that Cumberbatch was playing a well-known character from Star Trek’s canon, which had been fueling speculation about Gary Mitchell, Khan, Garth of Izar, Charlie X, Gary Seven and beyond.

Yesterday at a cocktail reception held after the Bad Robot Star Trek visit day, TrekMovie had a chance to corner two of the screenwriters and grill them on this possible contradiction. Here is what they had to say….

TrekMovie: A few months back Bob told me that Benedict Cumberbatch’s character would be from Star Trek’s canon. Today we find out that he is named John Harrison. So are both of those things still true?

Alex Kurtzman: Well without revealing too much what I can tell you is that in the same spirit as “can the Enterprise be under water? What does that mean? How are we going to justify this? How are we going to explain it?” We went back and we talked a lot about things that made us want to make the first movie in the first place as fans. And what do we feel was successful for the fans. A lot of that had to do with honoring the history — honoring the show. But we also want to come up with a way to make the stories feel fresh and unpredictable. So without revealing too much, we applied the same thinking to Harrison.

Reading between the lines, Kurtzman appears to be saying that Cumberbatch’s character honors Star Trek history but in a new, unpredictable way. Later on I also had a chance to ask Kurtzman’s writing partner the same question, and he took a bit of a more light-hearted approach to the answer…

TrekMovie: So you said that Cumberbatch plays a canon character, but now we see he is playing a guy named John Harrison, so no conflict?

Roberto Orci: Well I did say on your site that I lied once [see comment 67].

TrekMovie: So is this the lie?

Roberto Orci: We will have to wait and see (laughs)

Bottom line is that these guys continue to keep their cards close to their chest. TrekMovie will have another follow-up article analyzing all the John Harrison speculation here and around the web tomorrow. 

Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison in “Star Trek Into Darkness”

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What a waste of time that “article” was.

I tells ya, Orci’s lie was that he never lies. It’s the Cretan Liar Paradox, but in reverse or something…

I hope there is some significance to the name John Harrison everyone is missing (other than it probably being an alias for a canon character), because that’s an incredibly boring name to think up.

The ‘character is canon’ was the lie.
Very good!

Well played, Bob Orci.
You are the master of misinformation, sir… ;-D

As long as it’s a new character and you’re not kidding about canon part being a lie? I’m happy. I wanted it to be a new character from the beginning and only got on the “Gary Mitchell” bandwagon because it seemed less ridiculous than Khan…


#2 I have no time for liars, even if they are doing it as a marketing stunt. They have alienated me.

Pay no attention to the one who does not peak behind the curtian… Thanks for the post.

Yea, this article could have been consolidated into the last couple…since the info was obtained all at once- yesterday

Kurtzman’s first answer is a disjointed and incoherent ramble that didn’t answer the question. Was he drunk at the time?

Sounds a lot like the double-talk about “Is this classic time travel or not?” in ST09. They haven’t thought of how they want to explain themselves to the Trekkies yet, so they’re just spouting nonsense until they think of something. At least, that’s how it’s coming across to me.

Bob Orci:

“You say you are lying, but if everything you say is a lie, then you lie; but you lie then you’re telling the truth, but you cannot for you lie– ILLOGICAL. ILLOGICAL. Please explain!! Only humans can explain their behavior…”


Oh yeah.. we got to find out… nothing from the article. It didn’t add to anything. It doesn’t clear up the “canon” aspect of the character.

What do they mean “beware of spoilers”? The fact that they refuse to tell us whether or not John Harrison is a canon character or not is hardly a spoiler.

I think John Harrison is a nom de guerre, much like Miranda was in The Dark Knight Rises, or John Blake’s “other” name.

8. BulletInTheFace

Drunk or not, it was a finely-executed example of a total non-answer. Saying a lot and not saying much of anything at all.

” Alex Kurtzman:………..But we also want to come up with a way to make the stories feel fresh and unpredictable. So without revealing too much, we applied the same thinking to Harrison.”

Whoever it is will not be the same… that’s it!

;-) :-)

John Harrison? Really? That’s the best they’ve got?

I seriously hope the name is an alias for Khan or Mitchell because if they really went with a random new character instead of any one of a hundred great canon characters, that would just be beyond lame.

It would be completely antithetical to honoring the fans, to tease us with Khan and Carol Marcus lore and then waste Cumberbatch’s talent on some no-name villain like “John Harrison”. That name is so common. I know a John Harrison in real life. I mean, come on.

so…what theyre saying is….not interesting and not informational. great.

Yeah, but if the lie was that it was a canon character, then that means that Gary Mitchell (or, less likely, one of the other ones listed in that famous list of possible villains where he said “actually, it’s one of those” would have to be the villain). But since he’s not, there are two lies unless it’s one of the other people/entities listed.

Which means it’s one of the other ones listed. If not, then there are two lies, which means that the statement that there was only one lie is itself a lie. Which means that there could be an unlimited amount of lies. (It doesn’t mean that everything is true, since there couldn’t even be one lie.)

9. Vorus

The movie should contain the explanation, not the pre-release speculation. All the stuff regarding ST09 and MWI-QM was just the production team trying to have their cake and eat it too. Part of me appreciates their wanting to preserve canon (really, they were just throwing a bone to the longtime fans), but another part of me might have appreciated an absolute clean-slate reboot. That kind of explanation may not be necessary with this movie since the nature of its’ internal universe has already been established.

thnx for the info always enjoy reading the articles thnx for the time you spend here

16-Having a common name doesn’t mean that Cumberbatch’s character won’t be great. One of the greatest Trek movies of all time had the relatively boring name of John Paxton, but he still managed to be both evil and awesome.

We are be fooled like Kirk is being fooled by John Harrison…it’s Khan.

My theory: It means that the original script, the villain was supposed to be Khan. After auditioning several latino actors that didn’t pan out, and BC nailed the audition, they re-wrote the background of the character because quite simply, a white Brit can’t plausibly play Khan without some serious retconning. This is why Kurtzman’s answer sorta makes sense, he wanted to respect the fans and keep the audience guessing, re-doing Khan wouldn’t be “fresh”.

“And do what do we feel was successful for the fans. A lot of that had to do with honoring the history, honoring the show. But we also want to come up with a way to make the stories feel fresh and unpredictable. So without revealing too much, we applied the same thinking to Harrison.”

This is why TrekMovie’s report was probably accurate at the time.

well we did find out one thing ,
It wasnt one of the fake bob orcis who said that he lied .
It was The Real Bob Orci and he confirmed it .

“Roberto Orci: We will have to wait and see (laughs)”
He’s laughing at us.
Truth is, trekkies make up only 0.001% of this movies audience, so who cares what we think, what we want, and if we’re lied to. we just don’t matter.

Wow, you guys can be miserable about ANYTHING huh? I mean, new Trek movies are special events. As a fan, I just want to enjoy the hype, mystery and buildup. The creators are playing a game with the fans. It’s supposed to be fun. Some of you take yourselves and all of this waaaay too seriously. I’d feel horrible if I wasted all this time just being angry and judgmental aboutneveryblittle element of the marketing strategy.

Folks, relax and have some fun with this!

Yes, Pegg and Urban both lied. And now Orci and Kurtzman won’t give a straight answer to anything for the next five months.

But I put it to you that it was all done in the name of duty!

What wouldn’t you do for family?

#27 … I’m with you all day. I like what they’re doing with all this name business!

I took that as Bob lauging at the question .
Bob wasnt laughing at fans .


I’m sure someone beat me to it, but I just had a realization as to who Cumberbatch is. He is from canon…the New Timeline canon. When young Kirk drives past the boy in his uncle’s Corvette he yells, “HEY JOHNNY!” Since they deleted the scene that originally showed that character as his brother, it would stand that he is John Harrison

32 is a repost of mine from another board, I’m going to peddle my theory here. Bad Robot just loves misdirection. Is it the lie that he’s canon, or isn’t it?

Sounds to me like Harrison is a character from a place or event familiar to cannon, but he is not a person familiar to cannon.

Or perhaps he fulfills a similar role to historical figures in the Prime universe.

All indicators in the beginning was that Khan would be returning. Comic Books were published- Trailers aired, and then a midst all the rumor, and back-and-forth speculation the only thing all this info gave us was mass-confusion. Yea, It’s nice to see a glimpse of the finished product, and imagine the possibilities but we should trust our initial instincts, here, and for me- all indicators point in the same direction. The Great, and Powerful Khan has returned…. IMHO

By the way- Khan is not a name but a designation… as in ‘Captain’ James T. Kirk. Captain, being the designation.

Here’s a couple of things after reading Alex and Bob’s responses. Alex Kurtzman should run for office because he answered the question Iike a politician. He didn’t answer the question. Danced around the issue and talked about something else. The Enterprise underwater. It kind of reminded me of that scene where Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia says he wants to be a politician and answers a reporter’s question in the same way. The reporter says he answered the question like a politician.

The “lie” by Bob Orci. I’ve already said his comment in number 67 was a joke in response to our Emperor Mike’s joke about lying about lying. See number 30 from the July 14 interview. The lying stuff was started by a comment about Karl Urban telling a fib. Gary Mitchell? Plus I concede that post number 67 is Bob Orci since TrekMove confirmed it. But this article notes Bob is being lighthearted about any possible conflict. Now what was the name we gave to the deflector dish and will it be in the movie, Bob? :-)




“The Wrath of Kahn” indicates a name as opposed to “The wrath of the Kahn”

“A lot of that had to do with honoring the history — honoring the show.”

“Roberto Orci: Well I did say on your site that I lied once [see comment 67].”

Bob, this whole series is a lie the moment you put the name “Star Trek” on your action sci fi movie, and further when you say you are “honoring” the show. B.S. JJ-Trek’s very existence dishonors the real Star Trek!

I am just so happy that it’s not Khan.

Well done guys.

@ 26

Amen brother! Amen!

That’s nice, but no “Kahn” has ever appeared as a villain in Star Trek.

Maybe John Harrison is from the mirror universe of this timeline.

It’s clear that they aren’t ready to confirm who the villain is… but thank you for trying to get some answers, Anthony!

I think that the film must involve Khan somehow because of the TWOK references (Carol Marcus, Spock’s “the needs of the many” line, the Khan horn melody in the first 9 minutes, the hands touching through glass scene, the vengeance theme, and the fact that Paramount knows that moviegoers will recognize the name Khan). I don’t know whether Benedict as “John Harrison” is actually Khan in disguise (which could explain Bob’s repeated references to “face-melting”) or someone related to Khan (a descendent with the same enhanced capabilities or another augment from the Botany Bay), but I do think he’s involved and this will be revealed later in the film. Khan could be Weller (who doesn’t look much like Khan, but a lot is possible with CGI these days!), another actor who was snuck in, or a shadow at the end of the film… but I believe that they will introduce him in some way.

I want to say a big “THANK YOU” to Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci. I had some doubts, but I do trust you guys.
You love Trek, you respect the fans, and you know how to tell a story.
I’m thankful the people producing this seem to love Trek as much as I do!

10 – “I am not programmed to respond in that area.”

I find it funny that everyone is complaining that the character isn’t canon, when they destroyed Vulcan in the first movie. Come on, guys, that alone should have told you that the writers to whatever the hell they want. So long as it is a good movie that stays true to the trek spirit I don’t care who the character is.

#27 Vger23 I agree! Bob Orci at least takes time to interact with us fans! Trek is getting attention and that’s a good thing! Just wish we didn’t have to wait so long!

Take 1 part John Lennon and 1 part George Harrison and you’ve got John Harrison.

Khan was one of several genetic supermen. John Harrison could be one, or a clone of, of the other genetic supermen.

Or Flint.

47 – Peter Weller is George Lennon!

Use Benedict Cumberbatch’s real name. That’s a real villans name :)