Last summer news broke that new management at Paramount Pictures had put a pause on the Star Trek film project being developed by Noah Hawley. Now the writer/director is speaking out about the project being shut down and revealing just how close he was to production.
Hawley Trek was already casting when shut down
In a conversation with Deadline focused on the latest season of his television series Fargo, the subject of Hawley’s film work came up, kicked off by his lament that a change in management at Sony Pictures put a stop to a project to adapt one of his own novels. This led to the following exchange with Deadline’s Pete Hammond.
Deadline: That always happens with a change of scenery at a studio, everything you think you’ve got set up. You know what I’m pointing towards here; Star Trek at Paramount and a brilliant kind of new reinvention of such a major franchise. And then someone comes in and the whole thing stalls, or things happen.
Noah Hawley: That sums it up pretty perfectly. We were on the runway. There was major casting that we were in the middle of. We had a production schedule and I was getting ready to go to Australia. And then, as you said, new management. I guess in retrospect, what surprised me is not that Emma Watts came in and said, “Are you people crazy? This is a this is an untested crew. This is an original idea. We don’t know if this is going to work or not work.” It’s that I got as far as I did under [former head of Paramount Motion Picture Group] Wyck [Godfrey] and [Paramount President] Jim [Gianopulos]. It was a really fun movie and I think it would have been a great film, but you can’t control these things. So we move on.
Hawley had originally been tapped to develop his Star Trek movie in 2019, after the direct sequel to Star Trek Beyond was shelved before production was to begin, due to a breakdown on salary renegotiations with Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth earlier that year. Previously, Hawley had revealed he was developing something new, with a new cast. It appears that by spring 2020 he was already casting for the film and getting ready to go into production in Australia. The writer/producer has also indicated his Star Trek film would not have a focus on action, like the three Kelvin Universe films. Composer (and longtime Hawley collaborator) Jeff Russo recently told TrekMovie that Hawley had a different approach, predicting fans would “lose their minds” over the film (in a good way).
Emma Watts joined Paramount from Fox last summer to replace Wyck Godfrey as head of the Motion Picture Group. Shortly after, news broke that she had put a pause on Hawley’s project. His comment about her thinking it was “crazy” to do something with “an untested crew” may not be talking about a Starfleet crew as much as using the more traditional Hollywood lingo of trusting the Trek film franchise to the crew of Hawley and his production company. While Hawley has several Emmy nominations (and one win) for his work on television, his late 2019 feature film debut as writer/producer/director on Lucy in the Sky was a critical and box office disappointment for Fox Searchlight — and remember, Watts had just arrived from Fox.
When Deadline’s Hammond complimented Hawley’s relaxed attitude about having his project thwarted, Noah revealed more about how the experience with Trek impacted him:
Noah Hawley: It’s not easy. You have to allow yourself to have that process of—I won’t say grieving because you know, it’s not life or death—but you do have to pour your 40 out on the ground for the movie that would have been. To really celebrate that you were excited artistically about something and now you have to—just as you were getting ready to ramp up—you have to cauterize that wound and move on.
And Hawley has moved on. In addition to working on ideas for a final season of Fargo, he is also developing a television show based on the Alien franchise for FX.
As for Emma Watts and Paramount, they have also moved on to new projects. In March Paramount and producer J.J. Abrams chose writer Kalinda Vazquez to pen a new Star Trek film, and in April Paramount set a June 2023 release date for a reportedly different “secret” Star Trek film, also to be produced by J.J. Abrams.
Keep up with all the news on upcoming Trek films at TrekMovie.com.