TrekMovie had a lengthy and exclusive chat with Star Trek acting and directing legend Jonathan Frakes. All week long we have been sharing what he has had to say about all aspects of Star Trek on TV, past, and present. The final entry is more of a two-way conversation, where we talk about the current state of the film franchise.
In addition to appearing in the four TNG feature films, Frakes directed two of them—and he is also a fan. We start off talking about the news that Paramount’s new head of motion Pictures Emma Watts is considering three different possible scripts as she considers where to take the franchise next.
Frakes on the movies
I don’t know how much you have been following the trades with regards to Paramount and Star Trek movies, but they have all been sort of put on hold by Paramount’s new head of motion pictures. So let’s say Emma Watts rang you up and said, “Jonathan, you directed two movies, you know the franchise. I got all these scripts. What should I do?” What would you say?
I say greenlight the Tarantino and Noah Hawley, if you are lucky enough to get either of them. And if they are too busy to direct, I’ll be available. [laughs]
What about the Chris Hemsworth one? You’re saying give up on that one? That’s now apparently the front runner again.
Well, that’s probably the one that has the most hope of being made first because there’s already an audience. After Paramount shut down Star Trek for five years, J.J. [Abrams] relaunched it, and in my taste, very successfully. It captured the zeitgeist again. They spent a lot of f–king money so it was a BIG movie. His first one [Star Trek 2009] in particular was great. I wasn’t crazy about Idris Elba wearing a mask [Star Trek Beyond]. And I love Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan [in Star Trek Into Darkness]. And I love that cast…. So my opinion is that that movie with J.J.’s cast is the one, if I were betting, that would be greenlit.
What do you think?
Yeah, if they can work out the money issues. Maybe Watts has more cash now, maybe Pine is more flexible. Because they want to make it work overseas, which has always been the struggle for Star Trek.
From the very beginning. From the first movie. From the first television show, it still doesn’t work overseas. J.J.’s did better than any of the rest of us. I mean, it plays in England and plays in Germany.
But maybe they can still do those two you mentioned, the Hawley and Tarantino movies too. So first they do a big movie by bringing in Hemsworth and they go for the global cash grab.
Right. You would get that with Hemsworth and I think with Pine now.
But then they could also do what Warner and DC have been doing. So you give Tarantino or someone working on that 100 million dollars or maybe even less to make a smaller and maybe weird Star Trek movie.
A prestige movie.
Right. Kind of like Joker. What do you know about the Tarantino pitch?
Nothing. I was under the impression that it was going to be the original cast. And then Patrick [Stewart] led me to believe it might have been developed for the Next Gen guys.
From what I understand, it could involve multiple casts. I don’t think that movie is something that would have to fit with the rest of Star Trek. Like Joker, it can just be its own weird pocket universe of a movie, and still be great. Whereas, the Hawley may be another reboot. It’s a whole new cast.
I’m a huge Fargo fan. So any of those, I think. But do they water down the power that [Alex Kurtzman’s] Secret Hideout has now, with this triumvirate of Strange New Worlds, and Discovery, and Picard?
So that takes us back to that phone call with Watts, do you recommend they should go with a unified Star Trek Cinematic Universe that integrates all those TV shows and the movies, or continue to let them live in their own worlds?
Yeah, that’s a great question to which I’m not sure I have the answer. I think that my interest as a fan would be in what would what kind of movie does Tarantino make. And as a fan of Hawley, what’s that writing going to be like? But as a businessman, I would think you would bet on Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth, wouldn’t you?
Yeah. But I don’t know how far down that road they can go. Eventually, they’ll have to reboot again.
Yeah. I think it’s going to be confusing until you’re successful, when you can bring all of the Avengers together if you will.
It’s funny, you mentioned that. I’ve recently talked to [Robert] Picardo about how there was a little bit of talk after Nemesis about maybe bringing together some of the crews the various shows together for one more TNG-era movie. Did you ever have any conversations about that?
I’ve never heard that rumor. No.
Check out all of #FrakesWeek
This is the final entry from our week-long event with Jonathan Frakes discussing various aspects of the Star Trek franchise. Check out the previous posts:
Keep up with all the exclusive interviews at TrekMovie.com.