Bruce Greenwood’s Christopher Pike was a standout character for the 2009 Star Trek film and returned for 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. In an exclusive interview Greenwood talks about how he got his start in Trek, and what he thinks about a possible future for Pike and more.
Interview: Bruce Greenwood
Interview conducted with Bruce Greenwood at Destination Star Trek 3 in London over the weekend
TrekMovie: How did you land the role of Pike in the 2009 Star Trek movie?
Bruce Greenwood: It was strangely simple. I got a phone call from JJ [Abrams] and he said “I would like you do this.” And I said “OK, great, can you send me a script?” And he said “um, no.” What do I do then? He sais “you will have to come down and read it in a locked room and we will have a conversation.” So, I came to LA and they locked me in a room and I read it and I want “oh, this sounds like fun.” And I talked to JJ and said “I’m in!”
TrekMovie: In the two Star Trek films you did, you appear as a father figure, especially to Kirk and an over-arching figure to the cast. Did that translate off screen?
Bruce Greenwood: No. In terms of my authority? I had no authority among the cast, because we were just guys and girls with a ton of respect for each other so there is none of that old boy “do this, do that.”
Bruce Greenwood as Capt. Pike in “Star Trek” (2009)
TrekMovie: How did you feel when you read the script and found out that Pike was going to die quite early on in Into Darkness?
Bruce Greenwood: I was gutted. I was gutted.
TrekMovie: Do you think it was right for the character development?
Bruce Greenwood: I understand why they did it. And I think it was a good idea. I think it provided Kirk some real pain to generate the revenge he had to learn to grow out of.
TrekMovie: And is there room for a return in Star Trek 13?
Bruce Greenwood: Well I think there is always room. But if they did bring him back, it is how they bring him back. If you bring him back as a memory, then at least you still serve a death as a death. So, you don’t want to give him a dose of Khan’s blood and have him bounding back into the room. Because the next time somebody dies it doesn’t really mean anything.
TrekMovie: Are you working on anything exciting at the moment?
Bruce Greenwood: Yeah. I have a film with Russell Crowe called Fathers and Daughters coming out and one with Ethan Hawke called Good Kill and movie called Wild Like and a movie called Elephant Song coming out, and some stuff in the pipeline.
Bruce Greenwood with Xavier Dolan in “Elephant Song” – one of the many films of his coming out in the next year
More DST 3 Interviews to come
We have more interviews to come, plus check out our other coverage from DST 3
Karl Urban Talks Star Trek 2016 & Anthony Montgomery Talks Enterprise S5
Top photo by Idil Sukan, taken at DST 3.
Ronan O’Flaherty is an Irish based, life-long Star Trek fan, software engineer and radio presenter. His site is currently under revamp at www.ronanoflaherty.ie.
That’s a lot of movies he has coming out.
Bring Pike back!
He was a highlight of the nuTreks. (My favorite character actually) Hope we get to see more of him!
“…So, you don’t want to give him a dose of Khan’s blood and have him bounding back into the room. Because the next time somebody dies it doesn’t really mean anything.”
Thank you, Mr. Greenwood. Well put.
This guy is a real professional. BR was lucky to have him on board for two films.
Khan’s enhanced thrombocytes can only heal lethal tissue damage, not revive someone. Kirk almost died, but never did. Sadly however, Bones said the tribble was dead, which makes no sense.
wow. The secrecy on the script is really quite stupid.
I agree that it would devalue his death in STID if he just re-appeared in the sequel.
Flashback to a past conversation is the best way to do it.
Have Kirk reminisce or remember a meeting.
Kill Kirk. Bring back Pike. Starfleet needs grownups.
STID was notes without a tune.
Killing Pike was just one of the “moments” that became plot points plain and simple.
OK, so Khan is cheezed that he’s being used to foment war. What does he do? Does he post fappenings of Admiral RoboCop online? No, he shoots up the place. Then, he goes to Klingon to meet with his pals… but ends up killing them… so he can… draw in Admiral RoboCop/Skeletor and… kill him… (somehow without fomenting war with the Klingons who just seem to have lost interest.) Nevermind trying to suss out how Khan found the time to swap out his buddies for warheads… or how he got Scotty’s supertransporter… or how Starfleet can’t see a huge-arse spacedock near Jupiter… or how his blood is Jesus juice… and if it is Jesus juice, how can Spock knock him out… or…
I’m so tired.
“Kill Kirk. Bring back Pike. Starfleet needs grownups.” so says someone who obviously has the maturity of a 13 year old.
Great proposals for a comeback, Mr. Greenwood. Hopefully the people in charge take note. Reincarnated. In a dream. A flashback. Just bring him back.
I liked altPike. With Bruce it’s almost a given that you like him but I like reboot Pike.
In this life, he won’t be the first captain Spock had worked with, in tos, for 10 years. I think that Pike was, possibly, the first friend he ever had and maybe a mentor to him.
It’s interesting how things went differently in this timeline. Pike became more Kirk’s mentor here and a key thing might be the fact itself that the enterprise got delayed and thus Spock worked at the academy as an instructor (where he also met Uhura years before his counterpart did) while in the other timeline Spock prime already was Pike’s first officer at this point.
The reboot is “what if” put to practice.
Resurrect them all!! It’s sci-fi, after all. Nurse, I need 50cc’s of Khan-sulin, STAT!!
Sorry, question #2 sounds like a Sheldon Cooper question…
“Kill Kirk. Bring back Pike. Starfleet needs grownups.” so says someone who obviously has the maturity of a 13 year old.
And you are saying this from this specific post from USS Denver or have you known him in the past to post puerile comments? I’m trying to find out if there’s logic in this insult or if it’s just gratuitous and based solely on your current mood, as seems to be the case from most of your posts.
Awesome, awesome work, Ronan. You really got some great stuff at that con. Cheers!
Already posted, but I still agree that this is a great comment:
” If you bring him back as a memory, then at least you still serve a death as a death. So, you don’t want to give him a dose of Khan’s blood and have him bounding back into the room. Because the next time somebody dies it doesn’t really mean anything.”
That said, I don’t think Kirk’s brief death was entirely meaningless to the characters, necessarily (although it was very TOS in that it was reversed by the end of the episode and there was no prolonged grieving) but there wasn’t a lot of impact for the audience, who had been tipped off to the magic blood.
Will be missed in Trek 2016!
He has my favorite lines and scene (bar encounter w/ Kirk) in 2009!
“Look, so your Dad dies. You can settle for a less than ordinary life, or do you feel like you were meant for something better? Something special? Enlist in Starfleet.”
” Now, your father was captain of a Starship for 12 minutes. He saved 800 lives, including your mother’s and yours. I dare you to do better.”
Don’t try to find logic in Keachick’s post. It’s a fruitless exercise.
Bruce Greenwood is always marvelous. If anyone has never seen Thirteen Days I strongly urge you to go and rent it and watch it immediately.
Any flashback with Pike at the Academy teaching Kirk, Spock, et al., would be highly appropriate. I hope Boborci finds a way to put that in at a good spot in the film.
Mr. Greenwood is a great actor – I’d like to see him play Pike in a TV series that takes place between the Kelvin incident and ST09.
I would rather see a 13 episode “Captain Pike” series for Netflix. Just set it before the events of Star Trek 2009. Or even better… set it in the PRIME universe on the TOS Enterprise!
And Rose wonders why people attack her. It’s a two-way road, Rose. You are just as much the aggressor.
Careful, everyone. Keachick may come back and play the “victim card” again.
“Already posted, but I still agree that this is a great comment:”
It shows how ridiculous even the cast thought Khan’s blood was. And he’s right, Khan’s blood is already a huge problem with far too many loose ends. Just like transwarp beaming.
“Because the next time somebody dies it doesn’t really mean anything.”/Greenwood
It already doesn’t mean anything. In fact, I would argue that somebody significant has to die on screen very early in the next movie to solidify that ANYTHING can still happen in the NuVerse, and there won’t be a cheap gimmick like “Khan’s blood” to save the day … which was the whole stated point of rebooting in the first place.
Oh god, are you all really that stupid?
USS Denver (I cannot recall seeing this poster before) make a comment that was contradictory, at least it was for me. Suggesting that someone be killed is not a grown up comment. It is an immature and what’s more, an immoral one. Presumably the poster was referring to the young (Pine) Kirk, but of course he might have referring to the older (Shatner) Kirk. It was a silly comment.
Frankly, I do not expect TUP and one or two others to comprehend much of anything really, given their track record so far.
RDR – Really?
Can’t remember so much talk of resurrections on TrekMovie, or elsewhere?!
0 : )
#24 – So thick.
Bringing back Pike using Khan’s blood is not an option, because Pike has been dead for too long. If the writers did that, in Pike’s case, it would be ridiculous and yes, death would not mean anything. That is how I interpret what Bruce Greenwood said. If he did think as some do here, he would be as thick as those here.
Hopefully, Bruce Greenwood is way smarter than that…sigh…:/
#24. Curious Cadet – October 8, 2014
Do you realize what it would take to undo Khan’s platelets?
1. Khan would have to escape deep freeze.
2. Rescue his “family.”
3. Destroy all Federation research on his superior DNA, etc.
4. Use Marcus’ mind wipe to erase McCoy’s knowledge or kill him.
5. Kidnap Kirk and the girl as they still retain copies of his superior RNA and DNA.
6. Escape to Planet Omega or Miri’s World where those worlds’ genetically engineered viri overwhelm his and his crew’s platelets killing them all.
7. Kirk saves the girl and they both somehow escape the augments’ fate.
And still, how would they deal with the fact that Khan’s DNA/RNA or fragments thereof would still exist in the girl and Kirk from which the whole thing could be reverse engineered to produce more batches of the magic elixir?
How come Khan’s blood does’nt re-grow and overtake Kirk in some way?
And should’nt Kirk now have all the ‘superior’ intellect, aggression, and strength?
Perhaps Keachick needs a little Khan blood!
Kidding Keachick. You know I love you. <3 : )
Cool actor, cool Pike and cool Canadian of course. ;^) He was my fav of the alt universe.
When you have a resource like Bruce Greenwood at your disposal and your series isn’t finished yet, you don’t kill him off. You just don’t. It’s a mistake.
I agree that Pike needs to come back. FIgure it out, boborci! ;-)
Dr McCoy did not transfuse whole blood of Khan’s into Kirk. He gave Kirk a specific component that he found had the effect of kickstarting new necrotic tissue back to life. Kirk was also transfused with his own blood. I would think that most, if not all, of the *energy* from Khan’s blood will have been used up in regenerating tissue that was in the early stages of decay from radiation…
Even people who receive whole transfusions from other people do not become like their donors.
If they do bring him back, then I hope its just in a flashback or a memory or a Talosian-induced hallucination or something. They shouldn’t resurrect characters too often, or neither the deaths or the resurrections will mean anything.
The blood thing kind of reminds me of that episode of Voyager where Seven brought Neelix back to life. She revealed that she had the power to reverse death, it was a very significant thing in that one episode, and then it was never spoken of again.
I agree with an earlier comment. A 13-episode series with Greenwood as Pike, set either in the new timeline post-Kelvin and pre-Nero or taking place during the five-year mission in the original timeline would be amazing. The character, as portrayed by Mister Greenwood, is just too good to leave unused.
@36. Kevin In Choconut Center,
“set either in the new timeline post-Kelvin and pre-Nero or taking place during the five-year mission in the original timeline”
Or set in yet another alternate universe. Orci’s got a million of ’em. What I’d like to see is Pike’s original adventures in an Alt universe without Nero, where Pike’s fate is unknown (maybe he ends up in a wheelchair, maybe he doesn’t). Put Greenwood and Quinto in the series, along with a great actress playing Number One. Give us the series Roddenberry intended with the original Pilot, but this time with an amazing actor like Greenwood playing Pike.
32 Fy, “When you have a resource like Bruce Greenwood at your disposal and your series isn’t finished yet, you don’t kill him off. You just don’t. It’s a mistake.”
I’ve been thinking since it happened [because I desperately want Pike back] that perhaps he was “fatally wounded,” and passed into a state of death that Spock perceived, but was not complete. Ugh, this sounds awkward.
But remember the days when, if someone stopped breathing, they were dead? Then in later years they weren’t dead until their heart stopped? Now it’s a flat EEG …
There are reports of near death experiences. Maybe Pike had one of them. Hope springs eternal.
But Mr Greenwood has a point about deaths being meaningless, and sadly, Pike’s death was a plot Pivot Point for Kirk, and off we went on a Mission of Revenge. I thought that was kind of a rotten deal, for fans, for Greenwood, for the Trek AltVerse. I mean, okay, Greenwood’s working fine without Trek, but will it work without him?
This was a good thing in one way, it taught Kirk the wisdom of listening to Spock [and the rules, for Spock brought him back to center with his reminder that the Federation does not execute criminals, it tries them.
Maybe there’s hope: Pike never died really for reals. Everyone just thought so. I just hope that when he was in the coma the nurses shaved off those demmed muttonchops. Ugh, was Pike a big “Wolverine” fan or something?
@keachick. Our track record of being far more insightful and intelligent than you? That’s a track record I stand by. Go back to your Chris pine nude pop up book please.
Bruce Greenwood is wonderful in everything he’s in.
Greenwood was my favorite performance in the first movie, and he was extremely welcome in the second, though he didn’t get to do enough. I thought it was a terrible waste of their strongest actor, to kill him off just to justify Kirk going on a pallid and disappointing mission of vengeance.
“Spock brought him back to center with his reminder that the Federation does not execute criminals, it tries them.”
So did Spock learn his lesson in this regard after urging Kirk to play judge, jury, and executioner, with Nero and his crew, which almost led to the destruction of the Enterprise and her crew? ;-)
All these dead characters wanting back- this is gona be a zombie flick.
One possibility. With Pike no longer available the Talosians now want Kirk, they use their abilities to manipulate Spock using Pike’s image. :)
# 29. TrekMadeMeWonder – October 8, 2014
” How come Khan’s blood does’nt re-grow and overtake Kirk in some way?
And should’nt Kirk now have all the ‘superior’ intellect, aggression, and strength?” — TrekMadeMeWonder
Well, we know from the results of McCoy’s experiment that the platelets weren’t some sort of supercloning factor, i.e. the tribble didn’t turn into a miniature clone of Khan and try to take over the ship. Same for the little girl as I’m pretty sure if she had there’s no way her Pop would have honored their pact.
And when McCoy brought Kirk out of his medically induced coma, he did ask Kirk “Tell me, are you feeling uh…homicidal, power-mad, despotic?” so I guess it was of some concern.
# 34. Keachick (Rose) – October 8, 2014
“He gave Kirk a specific component that he found had the effect of kickstarting new necrotic tissue back to life. Kirk was also transfused with his own blood. I would think that most, if not all, of the *energy* from Khan’s blood will have been used up in regenerating tissue that was in the early stages of decay from radiation…
Even people who receive whole transfusions from other people do not become like their donors.” — Keachick (Rose)
Don’t know where you are getting this? At no time, on screen, did McCoy tell Kirk or anyone else that he had transfused him “with his own blood.” And what the heck is “new necrotic tissue”? Necrotic tissue is old as in spent and exhausted.
The tribble and its tissues that were restored were spent, lifeless, … dead. If Khan’s blood had enough energy to deal with THAT in a lifeform alien to it, why would it blow its wad restoring tissue in the EARLY stages of decay in a member of its own species?
I would think that as a mother you’d be more than familiar with the documented cases where the mother is spontaneously cured of a disease that her own blood couldn’t manage but the cure was traced back to the baby? I recall one article where a pregnant mother’s failing organ had been restored and her medical professionals felt it was due to her fetus’s stem cells that had crossed the blood barrier.
I know from the HIV and Ebola scares that people are more than aware of the negative factors that can be transferred in a transfusion, but it is a mystery to me why they assume no positives are possible? Perhaps you are familiar with how antivenoms are created for us by using the blood of species not our own?
Now it is true that blood banks do try to turn their collected blood into the homogeneous product that you assume, and for good reason, but those aren’t the only types of transfusions done around the world, especially in some 3rd world areas where refrigeration just is impractical.
If you were in such an area and in need of an immediate transfusion and Lance Armstrong came cycling through and was determined to be your match, don’t you think an in the field transfusion of his “enhanced” blood might transfer to you some of whatever the positive effects of his “doping” it might be?
Now, how long these effects might persist, I can only speculate but I’m fairly certain (but could be wrong as I’m no expert) that venom immunity built up from the assist of antivenom persists for quite some time?
For these reasons, I don’t think your assertion that absolutely no persistent positive benefit can be realized in a transfusion feels entirely kosher.
# 42. Buzz Cagney – October 8, 2014
” All these dead characters wanting back- this is gona be a zombie flick.” — Buzz Cagney
It wouldn’t be the first time STAR TREK did a Halloween-themed story. Remember CATSPAW?
Sure would be a fun way to neutralize Khan’s blood by having it bring about the Zombie Apocalypse. Just remember that in the first ST series Scott and Sulu were the 1st Trek zombies in that episode so they just HAVE to be patients zero and one.
“New necrotic tissue” means the tissue of something that has just died as opposed to what has been dead for quite some time. I would have thought it was obvious.
This is something I am familiar with. Last Tuesday afternoon, the last of our guinea pigs died of old age. He was almost 7 years old, pretty good for these little creatures. When he had just died, his body was still warm and floppy, however as he lay (in state, as it were), his body became colder and rigid. In normal temperate conditions, this cooling process, along with the accompanying rigidity, can take several hours.
How come a human organ can be removed from its dead owner and then placed in a host, where, with help of various immune-suppressant drugs etc, the organ can begin functioning again in the new host. This is what the whole organ transplant situation is about – and the window in which the organ needs to be placed in a living person is only several hours before it degrades, ie becomes old necrotic tissue as opposed to new.
This is not quite the same as bringing back a person who has been declared dead, as in brain dead, where I believe there is no resurrection possible, however, even those can be put on life support while their healthy organs are removed to be donated (if this person’s will etc specifies that, upon their death, such removal is permitted).
Perhaps there could some residual effects from Khan’s blood that might affects Kirk’s personality. I always thought that Dr McCoy was joking with Kirk and gauging how responsive and quick witted Kirk was to his quipping. As Kirk commented, “No more than usual”.
I took it as a given that Kirk would receive at least one transfusion of his own healthy blood, presumably kept in storage for such emergencies. Surely, in these circumstances, it would be standard, common sense medical practice to give a person suffering from radiation poisoning transfusions of healthy blood to help counteract the poisoning effects. No, I am not a doctor but still – better half seems to agree with me and he was/is an NZRN.
Marja – “There are reports of near death experiences. Maybe Pike had one of them. Hope springs eternal.”
This is what I was getting at. Spock thought that Pike had died, but what we were not shown were perhaps paramedics who managed to kickstart Pike’s heart and he has been in a coma and not expected to live. However, he rallies, as some comatose people have done, without getting Khan’s blood or anything like that.
I desperately want Bruce Greenwood back as Pike in the next movie. A total waste of a fine actor to kill his character off. I hope Mr Orci and the other people in charge figure out a way to bring him back! A memory, magic blood, a dream, a gift from God—I don’t care. Please—just figure out a way. I’d rather see Pike than anyone else.
42. Buzz Cagney – October 8, 2014
All these dead characters wanting back- this is gona be a zombie flick.
Now, that’s an interesting idea.
Khan’s magic blood brought Kirk back to life…but, Kirk hasn’t been the same since. There’s something…strange…about Kirk since he got the transfusion. His warm, carefree demeanor has been replace by a cold arrogance and his interest in women has changed. Several female crew-members have mysteriously disappeared under Kirk’s command and foul play is suspected, but the investigations never seem to lead anywhere. . . .
Not that I want this — but they could very easily write in a comic-bookish flashback where Pike was secretly resuscitated by Marcus/whomever and/or regenerated with superblood they’d already discovered (it seems possible that they would have done a little medical research/experimentation on samples from Khan and his people). But why?