In the last couple of weeks we reported on some comments from Simon Pegg about the possible next Star Trek movie, made while he has been out promoting Ready Player One. But the Scotty actor has also been talking about 2016’s Star Trek Beyond, which he co-wrote with Doug Jung. Some of what he is saying was covered before in 2016, but it is interesting to hear Pegg’s perspective on the experience now that he has had a couple of years to reflect. Highlights from Pegg’s discussions of Beyond are below.
Pegg talks “maddening” process with Justin Lin and last-minute changes to the script
Speaking with Build, Simon Pegg talked about some initial reluctance to being handed the keys to write a Star Trek movie but how he was happy with the results, making a film that was more like a classic Star Trek episode. He also talked about the how at times it was “maddening” working with director Justin Lin, who he described as “more of a visual communicator.”
Pegg also noted the challenge of writing a script late in the process, after Paramount rejected the script from Roberto Orci but didn’t want to change the release date. He described how the shortened writing process meant that he and co-writer Doug Jung continued even during production:
Every day [we were writing on set]. We would look at the schedule and say “We have got this scene and this scene tomorrow, let’s stay up until midnight and make sure it is right. I am remember texting Chris Pine at three o’clock in the morning and saying “Kirk will say this, don’t say that, say this.”… It was all about polishing. We had the shape and the structure and the events, but it was about finessing the dialog, the character interactions, the motivations, all of that stuff. Every single day of the shoot we wrote.
Didn’t expect making Sulu gay to be an issue
And in an interview on SiriusXM, Pegg was asked about how Beyond established Hikaru Sulu as gay by giving him a husband. Pegg defended the decision, saying it was better to make an established character gay over introducing a new one, adding:
This is a world where acceptance is total, and all of that kind of thing is not an issue, and we kind of wanted it to be not an issue, which is why we made it Sulu. And it became an issue.
Being a nerdy pain on set
Pegg and fellow nerd Stephen Colbert lamented that kids today don’t have to deal with the same “nerd” stigma when they were young. Pegg also talked about how his inner nerd can make him annoying on set, even on Star Trek:
I am a kid of the ’70s. I grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek, and those things I eventually got to be in, which is strange. It makes me a pain on set. I’m like “No, no, no, no. I think you will actually find the warp drive is actually a bubble of subspace, which the Enterprise…doesn’t go fast. It’s space-time being warped.” So, yes, I am a pain on set.
Critiques Paramount marketing
While Pegg is happy with Beyond, he has also made it clear he isn’t happy with how Paramount marketed the film. Speaking to the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Pegg lamented on how promotions didn’t capitalize on the 50th anniversary of the franchise:
I wasn’t happy with the way the film was marketed. It was a big year for Star Trek, and I felt it was never embraced. I feel sometimes people get scared of the Star Trek fanbase as being a kind of closed shop. If we were to mention Star Trek in some way, it would turn all the other people who hadn’t seen Star Trek off. It felt an odd thing to do.
And in an interview with Geek, Pegg noted that he was particularly upset over the first trailer for the film (which you can see below):
I was really angry about that, because it used “Sabotage,” which was our surprise moment in the end. It was supposed to be a very fun and heightened twist, and something that was a big surprise and they blew it in the first trailer, which really annoyed me. They also made the film look like a boneheaded action film. And they were scared, I think, of mentioning the 50th Anniversary. It was fumbled as a thing; they didn’t know what to do with it and it’s a real shame.
After Beyond, would only take a call from Spielberg
And on NBC’s Today Show, Pegg talked about how the whole process of making Star Trek Beyond tired him out to the point where he wasn’t interested in taking any more jobs, with one exception:
I finished Star Trek Beyond and that was a huge experience because we wrote it and it was very intense and it was wonderful, but afterwards I was so tired and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I felt I kind of done everything I wanted to do, so I was going to take six months off and I called my agent and said “Don’t call me for six months unless Steven Spielberg calls,” and he did!
That phone call from Spielberg was about a role in his movie Ready Player One, which came out last weekend. Pegg plays Ogden Morrow, co-creator of the VR world the “Oasis,” which is at the heart of the film. Ready Player One is also chock full of pop culture references, including a scene taken straight out of a Star Trek movie.