Executive producer Alex Kurtzman has been given the task of shaping the new Star Trek Universe for Paramount, with the launch of his fifth series (six if you count Short Treks) just last week. And he is set to continue building Star Trek for years to come. So it’s always good to hear his thoughts on Star Trek, which is what happened as he was a guest on this week’s episode of Tig Notaro’s podcast Don’t Ask Tig. Notaro is an old friend of Kurtzman, which is how she ended up getting a character built just for her with engineer Jett Reno in Star Trek: Discovery. On the podcast she talked to Kurtzman about his involvement with Trek and how it fits into his vision of the future, and how it is different than that other big Star franchise.
The “miracle” of Star Trek
When asked about how he became involved with Star Trek, Kurtzman talked about how his appreciation for the franchise has grown since he worked on the 2009 Star Trek movie:
So I did two of the movies and now here we are five television shows later. And I was definitely a fan of it. But I would never have been able to define myself as a Trekker or a Trekkie, or however somebody wants to self-identify. It wasn’t until I got into making the first movie and then did this incredibly deep dive into the world of Star Trek, that I fell in love with it. And each iteration of Trek has given me some new insight or gift into the kind of just the miracle that the whole universe of Star Trek is. And it’s been a really incredible experience. But I’m also fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of people who have really identified as Trekkers or Trekkies since they were little kids. There’s just an army of many people working–not just the writers or the directors, but production designers and costume designers and everybody who’s working on it can legitimately say that they’re a fan.
Roadmap to the future
Later Notaro asked Kurtzman about his views on the future in general, and Kurtzman turned back to Star Trek:
I do fundamentally believe in people. If you look at Star Trek mythology, what Star Trek mythology tells you is that there came a point on planet Earth where everyone’s disagreements became so extreme that there was a nuclear war, and that was World War III. And then years later, society started rebuilding itself, but it had to rebuild itself out of the shadow of what had happened, knowing we can’t let that happen again. And part of me thinks that may end up turning out to be prophetically true. We are definitely at a crossroads of some kind as a species. And probably in our lifetime we’re going to see the beginning of some change that’s really, really seismic, but it’s really going to be our kids who are really going to be dealing with it.
Everybody has their ‘What am I doing to help save things or try and do things?’ And I feel like telling stories that inspire people to think a little differently about all of these issues, be it Man Who Fell To Earth or Star Trek or whatever, is what I can do. Star Trek gave people a roadmap to imagine a future where our better angels won. So people have to believe it’s possible… I think human beings are capable of amazing things. And ultimately, we’re gonna find our level at some point, or we’re gonna keep trying to.
Star Trek v Star Wars
Kurtzman also weighed in on how he sees the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars:
As a fan of both franchises, whatever my response is it’s not a knock on one or the other, because I don’t feel that way. I think that the difference for me with Trek is that Star Wars is very much about space battles, and pulling out a lightsaber over almost theological differences, as represented by The Force. Star Trek is about diplomacy, and war as an effort of last resort. And that’s really different in terms of the way that Star Wars and Star Trek stories are told. Star Trek is about science being the solution before the weapons are the solution. It’s about the ingenuity of a bridge crew be it Reno, in engineering, or any of the other characters figuring out a way to bring their little piece of the puzzle together so that the puzzle fits, usually in less time than anyone has to actually do it. And ultimately, I think it is always about–and this is all Roddenberry–just a fundamental optimism that the future is bright and can be bright.
For more from Alex, see his recent TrekMovie interview talking about what’s next for the Star Trek Universe.
And visit dontasktig.com to listen to the full episode with Alex Kurtzman.