Cumberbatch & Abrams Talk Into Darkness Villain + Quinto Talks Kirk & Spock Relationship & more

Another set of interviews from the recent Star Trek Into Darkness publicity tour have emerged, this time from Korea. See below for excerpts of what Benedict Cumberbatch and JJ Abrams had to say about the film’s villain John Harrison, find out why JJ says the movie’s 3D is like none you have seen before and see what Zachary Quinto had to say about Kirk and Spock’s relationship in the film. [minor spoilers]


Cumberbatch: John Harrison controls people’s minds in ‘Into Darkness’ + more from JJ, Zach & Chris

There is a newly released set of Star Trek Into Darkness video interviews from the Korean site Naver Movies, featuring director JJ Abrams and the actors Benedict Cumberbatch, Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine. Below are some of the highlights of what they had to say…

Benedict Cumberbatch talked about his character, John Harrison, saying…

Cumberbatch: He is an extraordinary terrorist of sorts. He uses himself as a warrior with weapons and close hand combat to just reap devastation and havoc wherever he goes and a trail of destruction follows him. What is interesting from an acting point of view — beyond doing the stunts and choreographed fight sequences….was also the psychological warfare that he acts out. He has an incredible ability to control people’s minds to his bidding and make them – well confuse the radar of their loyalties and prerogatives, so that was great fun. So it was a great mixture of intense acting scenes and action scenes.  

Cumberbatch speaking to Korean site Naver Movies

And director JJ Abrams also weighed in on the villain role and what Cumberbatch brought to it…

Abrams: Benedict is an amazing actor. He is someone who brings this incredible intelligence and depth and truth to whatever he does. When I saw Sherlock I thought "here is a guy who is making Sherlock Holmes into a character that I absolutely relate to, love watch, makes me laugh – I really feel for him. It’s Sherlock Holmes but someone Benedict Cumberbatch is  completely bringing it to life and making it real. We needed someone for this character who is going to ground the character and make him relatable and be frightening and intense and believable. Not because he is raving and insane but because he is rational. And he brought this incredible sense of sophistication and psychological complexity to the role and we were very luck to get him.

Abrams also talked about how the film tests Kirk…

Abrams: This movie begins with this group already together….idea is that it is this group of people who are being tested in a way they have never been tested before. Especially one of the main characters played by Chris Pine who really has to sort of earn his position as captain and do everything he can to protect his crew.

(bear in mind that Abrams is speaking in generalities for a Korean audience who likely are not very familiar with Star Trek, even the 2009 film which ranked 40th for the year)

Abrams also spoke at length about the 3D process, saying…

Abrams: First of all the studio required us to shoot in 3D. They said we have to do that for the economics of it. So I was really bummed because I am not a huge fan of 3D at all. So approaching this thing I went in very cynically. I knew I wanted to shoot the movie on film. I knew I wanted to shoot it anamorphically, which means we couldn’t shoot it in native 3D. But I wanted to make the version of the movie that was that was the version I wanted to make in 2D. And I thought that if we can augment it and make it even cooler in 3D, then great. Well luckily we are working with an amazing stereographer and 3D crew and we have been doing work converting the movie. There is this myth that if you do a movie that is not shot natively in 3D then it will not look as good, which is absolutely not true. The look of the movie – there are some tricks and techniques that have never been used before. And the look of this 3D is beyond what we have seen before, especially with what you can do with IMAX. The frame of the IMAX is so much bigger than the 35MM frame. The resolution is so high. In this movie all the exterior shots are done in IMAX, whether filmed or rendered if it is a CG shot. So the cool thing there you have this massive scale plus the 3D. It is really going to be a cool experience for the audience.

JJ Abrams speaking to Korean site Naver Movies

Naver movies also spoke to Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto. Pine mostly talked about how JJ Abrams is an "incredible talent." Quinto did give some details on how Kirk and Spock relate to each other in Into Darkness

Quinto: I think [Kirk and Spock] operate from different places. This movie is no exception. It is just an undercurrent of who these characters are. I think in this movie in particular each of these characters learns from the other one about how more fully to be effective in their job and in their lives.

Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine speaking to Korean site Naver Movies

You can watch the full interview at Naver Movies.

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The way I’m reading it is that Harrison is very persuasive but does NOT have mind control powers. I hope that we don’t get into that particular scifi chestnut…

There is no IMAX anywhere where I live, so that it looks good in an IMAX cinema is kind of useless for me. I just hope the 3D looks good on normal screens, too.

I saw the IMAX 3D preview. I’m still not a fan, but the digital projection seems to have solved the brightness problem. I think JJ is just towing the company line here. It’s just too distracting. I hope I’ll be able to see this on a real IMAX screen, not the somewhat bigger screen this one screened on.

I never believed that he would have Mind powers, i think what they are talking about is how smart he is to be able to manipulate people into doing things. If you have seen Sherlock, think of Moriarty, hes the perfect example of a super intelligent manipulator.

The biggest issue I have with the IMAX format is generally, the speaker systems are way too loud and the bass way too pumped up. Makes dialogue way too much a pain to hear.

I saw Dark Knight Rises in the IMAX and while it was normally difficult to make out what Bane was saying, it was near impossible in an IMAX theater. Same went with trying to hear what any character tried to say unless they spoke with a growl like Batman. Just comes out as mumbles because the background noise is pushed up in volume

No IMAX for me here either. I’m hoping hoping hoping that this 3D is going to be a good what Hobbit had on our smaller screen as it’s the first 3D move that didn’t give me a migraine watching it.

I want to see the thing in 2D first — I still find even the best 3D (Life of Pi) too darned dim. In the IMAX preview, it was a) Dim and b) Tough to focus on the big picture (visually) because, between the giant frame and the 3D, there was a lot going on (in a movie where there’s already be a lot going on visually anyway).

If you’re watching a movie filmed in IMAX on a non-IMAX screen, does it still look different than it would had it not been filmed in IMAX.

@4. Richardus,
“I never believed that he would have Mind powers, i think what they are talking about is how smart he is to be able to manipulate people into doing things. If you have seen Sherlock, think of Moriarty, hes the perfect example of a super intelligent manipulator.”

Yes well in Sherlock Moriarity is MAJOR SPOILER: willing to kill himself to achieve his goals. I doubt John Harrison is willing to go that far.

THE WAY I READ THIS is “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for” …

… and that to me sounds more and more like Gary Mitchell’s half brother John Harrison with the super high ESPer abilities that runs in the family, and somebody Starfleet intelligence would be very interested in after the events at the Galactic Barrier.

Definitely going to see Into Darkness in 2D IMAX first – as it was filmed.

Maybe go see it in 3D on a regular screen after that to see which I prefer.

One thing that has certainly not changed since the Berman – Braga times is the never-ending self-congratulatory “He is great I am great everything is great” song… Yes, we get it: Trek 12 (sic!) is the greatest movie ever and Abrams the reincarnation of God himself. Too bad they’re simply rehashing the 1930s Flash Gordon serials with slightly better explosions ;-)

After seeing the first 9 mins in Imax 3d I can’t wait to see the rest of the movie. It was pure Beauty. As far as Kirk and Sock this should be the coming together of the two greatest of Starfleet History. Cumberbatch is a top notch Actor who I believe will make a wonderful Villian and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us.

#10. I agree with you to a point. Berman and them praised themselves way to much. J.J can do that. But here is the thing. Trek 09 was a fantastic movie and this one looks much better. Of course we will have to wait for the finished product of Star Trek Into Darkenss to see if J.J Really Deserves it.

I don’t think Harrison is Gary Mitchell or Khan. He could either be an Augment or maybe a brother of someone Kirk had to Kill.

Hey Anthony. Did you ever find out if your name was used in the new Trek Movie.

My impression is that Harrison’s ‘persuasiveness’ is on a par with the character of Saruman in LOTR. He never waved his arm, or used his staff; he was just able to use an adversary’s weaknesses to be incredibly persuasive.

It’s nice these folks are giving interviews & all,
but we’re still FIVE MONTHS away from this release…
These interviews & innuendos are going to be
forgotten by the time we see the movie…

“There is this myth that if you do a movie that is not shot natively in 3D then it will not look as good, which is absolutely not true.”

I don’t think this is scientifically accurate/factually correct, no matter how much JJ may want to believe it is so.

10. They were saying that during the filming of Trek V. ;).

And that’s the thing — nothing interesting ever usually gets said, for any film project, in these advance interviews. Unless there’s a funny story involving an embarrasing nude scene, or a funny-but-not-serious accident on set or something. So the interviews and the stories are usually vague and boring. I wish they’d make up a story about a drunken fistfight on set, or a Cho/Yelchin or Orci/Kurtzman romance or something to sell this thing ;).

1. The Last Vulcan – December 27, 2012

The way I’m reading it is that Harrison is very persuasive but does NOT have mind control powers. I hope that we don’t get into that particular scifi chestnut…


Why do you think persuasiveness is not a mind control power?

Took me a long time to understand Frank Herbert when he said that what he called in his Dune universe “the voice” was real and not a fiction of his imagination.

There are no Bene Gesserit that teach it, I think, but it is real just the same.

I saw the 9min imax preview and was blown away, hats off to JJ, and all involved. My only wish is that it was out now :) and that it would be 2hrs 45mins like a true epic not a 2hr half epic one

Mind Control eh? If Harrison starts asking to share everyone’s pain, I think it’ll be obvious what character he’s playing.

I believe Harrison, as powerful as he is, is being
controlled by the real threat to the Federation.
Cumberbatch’s character, while capable and
menecing enough by himself, is but a StarFleet
officer who has had his principles and morals
changed drastically, but we may not discover
this until near the end of the movie. It will
be a cliff-hanger with a sequel planned.
My guess is that the actor John Gatt, who is in
the movie but whose role is top secret still,
plays the real enemy – and if I’m right,
I know well who he is and that he is the
greatest threat ever to the Federation ever.

Sigh. It sounds awesome, but one ST episode every three years? Come on, bring trek back to TV.

Even one two hour made for TV movie each 3-6 months would be awesome.

The more we hear, the more we have to believe that Harrison is Khan or his right hand man, the political leader of Khan’s uprising; the Augments’ power over the minds of their followers was charismatic, not mind weapon- based.
He’s not Garth of Izar; that would reduce Cumberbatch’s role due to his shape- shifting. JJ would not do that.
He’s not Gary Mitchell, who had no mind powers over others’ behavior.
Harrison’s not powerful enough to be Trelane or Q, who wouldn’t need to influence the minds of men to get things done.
Section 31 would conveniently fit in since they are canon and dealt with in a few canon Enterprise episodes- and have ways of making people angry and disillusioned.
The real giveaway is the bodies in the cryotubes.

Bring it back to TV on CBS owned Showtime cable net…
It would open up whole new vistas and sneak in a little nudity here and there..The Great Bird would like that…

26. Bob Tompkins

And maybe he’s JUST John Harrison.

So it’s looking like we have the “manipulative villain allows himself to get captured as part of his diabolical plot” plot.

…again. Silva from Skyfall, the Joker from TDK, Loki from The Avengers…and of course our villain is a perfect mix of Joker, Hannibal Lecter, and Jack from the Shining. Unbeatable, even though he’ll no doubt be beaten.

Did a 14-year-old on some Trek message board write this fanfic?

And since when does everything have to be about revenge? II, VIII, IX, X, XI, and now XII….Quentin Tarantino would be proud of all these revenge pics.

@27. Bob Tompkins,
“Bring it back to TV on CBS owned Showtime cable net…
It would open up whole new vistas and sneak in a little nudity here and there”

I can see it now. A crossover with the Spartacus Vengeance planet. Imagine Kirk Spock & McCoy with that version of Merrikus …

#7- Yes IMAX improves picture quality even on 35mm screens, because they started with a high rez source to begin with. That said I saw Dark Knight Rises in both IMAX and digital AVX projection. The digital projection was half as bright and no where near as detailed or sharp. Im not a fan of digital projection at this time, until they improve it to at least 4K or better. I see the screen door effect too often with digital projection. Film doesn’t do that.

J.J. Abrams says above, “There is this myth that if you do a movie that is not shot natively in 3D then it will not look as good, which is absolutely not true.”

It’s not a myth, J.J. I’ve seen between twenty and thirty films in 3D. All the conversions lacked pop and were too dark. To paraphrase Roger Ebert, you cannot make a 2D movie into 3D. That’s because the conversion process is like creating a cinematic pop up book. I will commend Abrams for thinking about 3D when filming. Maybe he adjusted the lighting. We do know he had camera shots of the sets without actors to assist the conversion process. But again, it’s logical to see that native 3D is better than the pop up books of conversions.

Link. How to convert a 2D movie into 3D and why shooting natively in 3D looks better.

@28. Captain Archer,
“And maybe he’s JUST John Harrison.”

We can only hope. However, the IDW comics give us some food for thought …

Maybe is is REAL mind control. It’s canon that a shadow organization within Starfleet was behind the Archon experiment in mass population mind control. If Starfleet could implement that level of mind control over an entire planet, what could they do on a localized level? John Harrison may well be an average guy who became the Starfleet prototype a la Captain America …

these aren’t the droids you are looking for….. Cumby is playing Obi Wan.
No wonder JJ isn’t interested in Directing Star Wars. He’s just made 2 of them already.

If they really wanted the Korean market, they could have Psy play one of Khan’s people.

32. Thanks. The dimness really makes it tough to watch a movie.

Harrison is one of Khan’s crew. The only one they woke up. Spock Prime told Starfleet about the Botany Bay, to avert chaos from Khan in the future. Starfleet was using Harrison as a one man Seal Team 6. Kept the others in suspended animation until they are needed. The movie will end with Khan being awakened.

Basement Blogger: The bit about the myth is qualified, to explain why he thinks it’s now a myth:

“There is this myth that if you do a movie that is not shot natively in 3D then it will not look as good, which is absolutely not true. The look of the movie – there are some tricks and techniques that have never been used before. And the look of this 3D is beyond what we have seen before, especially with what you can do with IMAX. ”

That’s what he’s saying. Whether or not we agree with him, we’ll have to see.

And that was a 3-year-old Slate article you linked to — again , agree or not, it sounds like JJ is saying that THIS film looks pretty great in 3D.

@39. Jack, Basement Blogger is 100% correct. JJ is deluding himself. Conversions never look all that great and are always darker. It’s like coloring black and white movies — the result is never as good as if it had been originally shot in color because of the actual physical/scientific limitations of trying to produce something as good as original source materials.


The thought has definitely crossed my mind as well. I wouldn’t be surprised and it would fit the Hollywood modus operandi of the Comic Book Super-Movie like a glove.

I wouldn’t mind it either, really. I’ve kind of hoped for a more attached 2-and-3 pair of movies for years now. But my only major hope would be that at that point we definitely saw a fourth film with this crew, so there’d be at least just one more grand sweeping outing with them that has nothing whatsoever to do with the Augments. Otherwise it would almost feel like the Abramsverse assembled the Starvengers with the sole purpose of defeating Khan.

Okay. My only point was — it sounds like in the quote he’s saying they can, with new techniques — look good. Again, it’s been a few years since Alice in Wonderland. Some conversions, like that last Harry Potter, looked pretty great (it was in 3D, wasn’t it?).

I saw the IMAX 3D preview and to be honest, I didn’t care for the 3D. It didn’t make me feel like I was emotionally or physically connected to the film. The first few minutes of the story most certainly did, however. Hey, JJ’s the filmmaker, I’m the audience who just wants a kick ass, award winning freakin’ Star Trek. I think we’re going to get get it.

@38. 750 Mang,
“The movie will end with Khan being awakened.”

While I can get on board with your premise otherwise, if they tell us Khan is gonna be in the next movie, what exactly will they have left to tease us with?

Chris Pine always looks as bored as hell at these things..

44. I didn’t love it either. The chase scene was really cool. But JJ’s camera moves around pretty quickly — add 3D to that, and it’s tough to see/follow everything that’s going on. And FX usually looks especially phone in 3D, IMO.

So, even with native 3D, is all the FX work essentially done in conversion? IE, on the computer using the same (or a similar) process as converting? Since it’s all CGI, anyway?

phone = phony. Again, just my opinion.

@4. Richardus – As long as he doesn’t become some sort of Jedi “take over your mind power” guy, I’m happy.

@19. Jack – Orci/Kurtzman romance. Now THAT I’d like to see.

@20. dmduncan – Sure, being persuasive is a mind control power to some degree but it’s a far cry from the tired scifi cliche of taking over someone else’s consciousness to have them do things, bla bla bla.

@23. Sybok – Yeah, I dare say that some of the characteristics are rather Sybokian, as well as taking vengeance against Earth, the center of the Federation, for doing not much of anything while Vulcan was zapped… but I still don’t think that JJ, boborci & Co. would go in that direction.

@45 It’s just like the end of Batman Begins when we knew the Joker was going to be in the sequel. That didn’t hinder any anticipation for The Dark Knight.

@ 40 43

Jack, the 3D conversion process has not changed. That Slate article is basically correct. 3D cameras will catch much more information, light and shadow, that you won’t get when you convert. The conversion process can’t put all that information in It can’t show the depth, nooks and angles of a cave wall for example. But read my post on 33, I DO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT ABRAMS IS DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT IN CONVERTING 2D TO 3D. . He shot scenes without the actors to assist in the conversion. That should tell you the basics of conversion are the same. It’s still a cinematic pop up book.

And by the way I saw two conversions with the “new” technology that you claim is here. Titanic and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, THE 2012 CONVERSIONS. . Cameron spent a lot of money converting Titanic. I’ll just let Roger Ebert talk about the 3D conversion for Titanic.

“But “Titanic” was not shot for 3D, and just as you cannot gild a pig, you cannot make 2D into 3D. What you can do, and he tries to do it well, is find certain scenes that you can present as having planes of focus in foreground, middle and distance. So what? Did you miss any dimensions the first time you saw “Titanic?” No matter how long Cameron took to do it, no matter how much he spent, this is retrofitted 2D. Case closed.” Link below.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (2012 conversion) was too dark and lacked pop. The little girl sitting behind me cried, “Daddy I can’t see anything.”

The best 3D film I saw was a dance documentary called Pina. Great because director Wim Wenders shot in 3D and set up shots to take advantage of it. Link. If you want to see how great native 3D looks in a recent movie, go watch The Life of Pi 3D.

Roger Ebert’s review of Titanic the 3D conversion for THIS YEAR.

Trailer for Pina; you can almost see the 3D in this 2D preview; check out the last comment by the Wall Street Journal