A year ago, the active Star Trek film in development at Paramount was a new concept from writer/director Noah Hawley. A script had been written and the film was in the early stages of pre-production. Star Trek: Discovery and Picard composer Jeff Russo was also on board, as he is a longtime collaborator of Hawley’s and has worked on many of his previous projects, including his Emmy-nominated (and winning) scores for Fargo.
But last June, the Hawley Star Trek project was put on “pause” by Paramount’s new head of motion pictures. And earlier this month, Paramount staked out June 2023 as the release date for their next Star Trek film, although no details on the “top secret” project from producer J.J. Abrams have been revealed.
Over the last year, Hawley has revealed a few bits about his Star Trek project, but it mostly remains a mystery. TrekMovie spoke with Jeff Russo about the release of the Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 soundtrack and more for this week’s All Access Star Trek podcast. During that chat, podcast co-hosts Laurie Ulster and Anthony Pascale took a diversion to talk to Russo about Hawley’s Star Trek movie, and how it could still fit into Star Trek’s big-screen future.
The full podcast will be released on Friday. The following transcript preview covers the Hawley Trek portion of the interview…
Last April when you’re doing your last round of interviews for Star Trek you were talking about your pal Noah Hawley and his exciting Star Trek movie. He was in pre-production and everything was great. Two months later Paramount put that project on “pause.” Do you know if it is still paused, or dead, or still in the mix?
If I knew I couldn’t tell you, but I can tell you that I have no idea. I really don’t. And Noah and I are close friends as well. And I don’t know that he knows. Somebody says “pause” and you pause.
So, it’s definitely not the project Paramount just announced that is coming in June 2023 then. Did you hear about that?
I did. I heard something about that. I don’t know what it is they announced because they didn’t say what they announced. They just said we’re going to release a Star Trek movie in 2023. So somebody knows something… I can tell you that I was extremely excited and had already started writing themes for Noah’s Star Trek movie. Themes that may or may not end up in season four of Discovery. But, who knows?
So you read Noah’s script and saw storyboards and that kind of thing?
I hadn’t seen any storyboards yet. But I did read the script. And I had already started talking about what the music was going to be. We talked pretty in depth. We always do that before a project.
And you liked the script?
Yeah, it’s great. It’s interesting. Noah, as a writer, is extremely visual. So whenever I read one of his scripts, it’s always extremely inspiring to me. It’s how I’ve always ended up starting to write anything for Fargo. That’s how I always ended up starting to write seasons of Legion. So when we work together, it’s from a very early point in the process.
You are a real Star Trek fan. You have said you were excited about the project. He has described it as something different. It wasn’t going to be another Kelvin movie, but his own thing. And it sounded like it was going to be a smaller movie, and so not trying to be a big action Marvel-type movie. So, how do you think Star Trek fans would have reacted to this? Is it really that different or just a little different?
From a story perspective? No. From a story perspective, I would say it was not all that different. I mean it was different in its voice because Noah has a voice – his writing voice. So in that way, it may have had a different feel. But it was a very Star Trek story. And it was a very interesting way to tell that Star Trek story, which is what made me so excited about it and had me inspired to write music already for it. The way he explained it to me made me feel like the fans are going to lose their mind. It literally felt like that, to me. Lose their mind… I read the script and my call to him was the fans are going to lose their mind, because of just what the story was.
Well with Star Trek fans, “lose their minds” can go either way. So in a good way or bad way?
I would say in a good way. Because it would have been telling a story that they hadn’t heard, that hadn’t been done in a way that would have been very fulfilling. Finding out answers to questions that have never been answered.
That sounds exciting, especially for Star Trek fans who are also fans of Noah’s, and it being something different.
That’s kind of what I mean about the voice here, too. The voice made it different. It made it different, because of the telling of the story was through someone with that voice, which is what made it so interesting to me.
Paramount may be moving forward with multiple Star Trek films that aren’t necessarily all related or direct sequels, as other big franchises are doing. So does Noah’s movie require being part of a series or could it just be its own one-off movie? Like, let’s say the 2023 Star Trek movie is its own thing with a whole new cast. Could Noah’s movie coexist with other Star Trek movies?
Without a doubt. It stands totally on its own. It’s one of those stories where yeah, it can drop right into the middle of the whole thing. It could work if they just made one and never go back to it, and it would be totally fine. It can just be like a story in the middle of this universe, right?
So, not unlike how Joker is its own thing, while they also go on and do other things within the DC Universe.
If you liked that kind of movie.
Not everybody likes Joker, but as we have talked about all the [Star Trek] possibilities, [Noah’s] movie is one we all the most interested in.
Right, because all of a sudden it was like, ‘Oh wait, can a story like this be told by this type of storyteller?’ And my answer would be: yes. Let’s see. How fantastic would that be?
More from Russo on Friday with All Access Star Trek podcast
Check back on Friday for the full interview with Jeff Russo on TrekMovie’s All Access Star Trek podcast where we talk about the past, present, and future of music for Star Trek: Discovery, Picard, and more.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Soundtrack available now
Lakeshore Records released the Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Original Series Soundtrack digitally on Friday, April 16. The new soundtrack features 40 tracks from the original score by Emmy Award-winning composer Jeff Russo. A limited-edition vinyl edition will be released later.
Keep up with all the news on upcoming Trek films at TrekMovie.com.