The big news breaking on Wednesday afternoon was Paramount Pictures developing an “origin story” film set before the 2009 Star Trek movie with Toby Haynes tapped to direct. Haynes has extensive credits in sci-fi, including directing for Star Wars, but in a way, he has already also directed Star Trek.
Toby Haynes “begged” to direct Trek episode of Black Mirror
At the end of 2017, the highly acclaimed Netflix anthology series Black Mirror released “USS Callister,” an homage to Star Trek complete with extended sections set on a starship (the USS Callister) in a very Star Trek-like universe. With a runtime of 76 minutes, the episode feels like a TV-movie, still fitting into the Black Mirror tone with dark twists tied into commentaries on modern technology and society. “USS Callister” was critically acclaimed; it earned 7 Emmy nominations and 4 wins, including Outstanding Television Movie of 2018. It was nominated for several other awards, including a Hugo and a BAFTA, and was directed by Toby Haynes, Paramount’s latest pick to direct a Star Trek feature film.
Before Black Mirror, Haynes had experience directing high-concept genre and sci-fi projects like Sherlock and several episodes of Doctor Who, which got him noticed by the show’s producers. In a 2018 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Haynes said he literally “begged” them to give him the job on “USS Callister,” fearing they would give the feature-length episode away to “some big shot Hollywood director.” Haynes explained why it was so important to him:
“I’m probably a bigger Star Trek fan than [Black Mirror creator] Charlie [Brooker] is. As a kid, I was a super-geek for all things sci-fi on TV, particularly Doctor Who. I knew the original ‘60s Star Trek show very well. I was such a fan that I’m kind of reverential about it, so I was happy to play fast and loose with this version. I knew stuff that Charlie didn’t know, which is why we put Michaela Coel in a red outfit. Michaela had to be in a red outfit because she’s the first of the crew to get killed.”
The Black Mirror episode features Jesse Plemons playing starship captain in a fantasy virtual reality much like Star Trek. In his THR interview, Haynes described how his love for Trek influenced the way he directed Plemons:
“It comes from a place of love. Clearly, Daly is such a fan that he is mimicking the way that his hero speaks. It was also a very fine balance about how Shatner-y we were going to get. We brought in a voice coach. We worked it very carefully. Jesse would say, “You let me know if you want to turn the dial up on Shatner.” We did it one or two times where he went full Shatner, like when he says “Fire” in the opening. That’s straight out of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. I love those movies. I’m quoting my heroes. So it comes from a place of love. We’re not punching down, we’re punching up.”
The Black Mirror producers had talked at the time about doing a follow-up or a spin-off, and Haynes was eager to be involved. He told THR:
“I was talking with Louise Sutton, who produced this and “Metalhead,” and she cooked up a brilliant idea of spinning it off into a TV series. I’d love to do a TV series of “USS Callister” — it’s probably one of the best pilots for a space show ever. And I made it! So I’m keen to see it as a TV series. I think Charlie might revisit it as a Black Mirror. Whether I’m the one to do it, I don’t know. Being a fan of the show as much as I am, and being a part of making it, I’d love to work with that crew and cast again. It’s a gift for a director.”
The USS Callister never got that spin-off, but it looks like Haynes is now getting his chance to do it for real, directing a Star Trek feature film for Paramount.
Directing Star Wars before Star Trek
Since Black Mirror, Haynes has been honing his craft in space; he directed 6 of 12 episodes of Andor. His work has garnered him Emmy and Hugo Award nominations.
In this 2022 interview at the red carpet premiere of Andor, Haynes talked about how directing for Star Wars was a dream gig.
“USS Callister” trailer
For those who haven’t seen it yet, here is the trailer for “USS Callister” from Black Mirror.
Find more news on all the upcoming Trek movies at TrekMovie.com.