Here’s the third and final part of /Film’s Star Trek press conference coverage from Smoky Old Londinium. As I sat listening to JJ Abrams and his lead cast chew over just how to hype the film to the assembled Brits, outside stalked Jack the Ripper through a real pea souper off in search of jellied eels. Or maybe not. Maybe London’s not like that at all and its all mods and miniskirts. I forget now.
After the break, the last marathon run of questions and answers. This is where you’ll get to read the inevitable discussions of the next Trek film and plenty more besides.
Chair Mark Dolan put it to Abrams that he is obviously competitive and ambitious so did he want to make this film the best of the genre?
Abrams: My own point of view, because I wasn’t a fan going into it, there wasn’t a version of Star Trek that was as appealing to me as I would have liked to have seen, For example, the Twilight Zone was my favourite show growing up and I would never want to even try to and do a Twilight Zone show or movie, because I feel that it had been done in a way that I know that, for myself, it had been done in a way that I know myself, I could never out do that. But what has come before in Star Trek, I mean, its 43 years and tons of hours and amazing stuff and huge fans and just because it didn’t work for me as it did so many other people doesn’t mean that its not far better than what I could ever do, but this is my own point of view and working with this cast, this amazing crew, our goal was to make, of course, the best possible version ever, The key to that was the emotional way in. I’ve become a lover of Star Trek, which I can’t even believe but its out of examining these characters, getting under the skin of some of these characters. I never knew why I should care about Kirk, now I do and its not because I directed it, its because I appreciate now what Gene Roddenberry created. I mean, he was prescient and amazing and the dynamic of the characters, we didn’t change that, we just brought them back to life, cast amazing actors and luckily the script that they wrote was terrific.
A man with a beard and a tie, and identified as possessing both, then asked the cast for advice to pass on to teens who want to be actors.
Urban: I think the most important thing to do, it doesn’t matter what your vocation is, is to invest in your craft invest in yourself. When you’re not working, pay to work – take classes, take lessons, learn and most of all you have to be patient and don’t give up.
John, Warwickshire wanted to know if Quinto’s approach to Spock was “reinvention, homage, or parody?”
Quinto: I had the great advantage of working closely with Leonard during this process from the very beginning he was so available to me and supportive and welcoming and gave me such creative freedom, I didn’t feel any sense of expectation or pressure from him. And that was enormously helpful as a resource, also to have personal experience of the impact this character had on his life, the impact his life had on this character. So I fell that all of us were given the mandate to use what came before us as the point of entry for our own interpretations of these characters and our own relationships to them in the world that this film puts us in. For me it was just about a self discovery and I think I can speak for everybody up here when I say that as incredibly rewarding way to work and we have JJ to thank for that, and certainly each other to rely on through it.
Dolan now asked Quinto if it was something of a pressure to have Nimoy so nearby.
Quinto: In fact it was the opposite of that, I felt that it was reassuring to me . I tactually removed any sense of pressure and anxiety that I might have had otherwise to have him available and involved and clearly supportive and exited. I t was a very profound experience for me because I don’t think Leoanrd ever expected to play this character again, it had been 19 years since he donned the ears last time and I think for him this was real opportunity not only to play the character again to be integrally involved in the passage of the mantle. And that for me was an incredible honour and certainly one that I will cherish for years and years to come.
Dolan probed Abrams now on the difficulty in approaching old cast members, and if the decision to include, or not, certain actors had cost him sleepless nights.
Abrams: Did Bill ask you to say that? [Cue laughter] My first reaction when they asked if I wanted to be involved as a producer in Star Trek was do the Kirk and Spock story because thera have been so many versions and iterations of Star Trek that doing another ship and a whole new group of characters wasn’t the way to go and I thought to start at the ground floor, where I never felt like, as I said before, there wasn’t an emotional way in, that’s what interested me. I called the writers with whom I worked before, Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman and the producers Bryan Burke and Damon Lindelof, the five of us got together, one of whom, Orci, was a huge fan, one of whom, Bryan Burke had never seen the show before, so we had this range of experiences of star trek and by talking about story and finding a story that worked for all of us that was sort of the way in. And we knew we needed to embrace wat had come before and we knew that we wanted to tell as story that involved Spock, that was the kind of catalyst of the story. So it required Leonard Nimoy being in the movie, so we met with him and we pitched him the story, we separately met with William Shatner and did the same, and Leonard was interested but didn’t commit so we wrote the script and gave him the script and crossed out fingers and hoped he’d say yeas and amazingly he did. He’d said no so many times in the last couple of decades that we were thrilled. And so that was sort of the way in. And even as a non fan going in, the first day of shooting with Leonard, sort of like Simon was saying, he had his ears on, his hair was the hair, he was in wardrobe, and he just felt like a legend on set and here was this guy who’d played this role for 42 years and he did his first line reading and I went backstage […] and I thought ‘okay I have some notes’. So is started walking towards him and as I was walking I was thinking ‘what the hell am I doing? How do I tell Leonard Nimoy how Spock should say line?’ And I slowed down and I talked to him, and I suddenly like sweating, I was intimidated, I get to him and he’s […] was like “Yes?” and I’m thinking “What the hell…?” and I said to him “Mr. Nimoy, I want to give you a note, I just don’t know how to” and he grabbed my shirt and he was like “tell me, tell me, tell me” and I just saw it in his eyes he’s can actor, he’s an artist a collaborator, I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to work with him. He was just a gentlemen, he’s incredibly thoughtful. The most amazing thing, an then I’ll shut up, is that he was so supportive, not just of what we were all doing but specifically of Zachary. I mean, here was a guy, you can imagine, here’s this guy who’s been playing this role for almost half a century and here’s this young, handsome actor who’s just starting his career coming in and taking over that character. I just think it could have been a lot of things but what it was the definition of grace. He was so wonderful, so supportive, to the whole crew and especially in a wonderful way to Zachary. One more thing and then I swear, I’ll stop. I remember we were doing a scene with the two Spocks together, and I never even told you this (to Quinto) I pulled Leonard aside and I said ‘I have to ask you this, you know, because you’re in the scene and you’re watching him play Spock, what do you think, is there anything I should be telling him? Is there your something I’m not seeing because nobody knows him better than you’ and he just said ‘He’s pretty good’.
A journalist now asked Simon Pegg if him being in Spaced and now Star Trek had broken the space-time continuum. Which wasn’t as funny as the journalist assumed.
Pegg: I don’t know if you guys know this but in Spaced there’s a line where I say that I’m talking about things that are sure in life and one of them is that every odd numbered Star Trek film is shit. That was back when there were only, I think, 7 or so and it was a widely held controversial geeks-eye view of Star Trek and that’s not true anymore. That’s most certainly been disproved by this movie. It’s lovely to be part of here, you know I am a self professed fan of this kind of stuff and a geek and to go from doing a sitcom about a guy who’s life ends when Star Wars comes out, The Phantom Menace, I think if I was still doing Spaced now there’d be an entire episode dedicated to how Tim Bisley, who was my character, would be orgasmic about this movie, you know this is everything he wanted that film to be and it wasn’t and the irony of being in it now, being part of it is not lost on me now I can assure you.
Alec from Crawley had sent in a question about Karl Urban giving the closest performance to the originator of the role and how Urban felt about that.
Urban: As I said, for me the challenge was to try and identify the very essence and spirit of what DeForrest did so wonderfully well for so many years and I have to be honest, I found it quite scary experience because I was never quite sure where the line was but as comforted in the fact that JJ was there to keep me on track and, you know, I have an 8 year old son and 2 years before I found JJ was going to make Star Trek I watched the entire DVD boxset with him which held me in good stead when it came time to do the screen test I didn’t necessarily have to go back and review the material because I felt that I knew it quite well. So it was difficult for me to specifically define but I felt that I knew the character, I knew the archetypes and the relationships and what they meant to each other. The real thrill for me was when I took Hunter, my 8 year old son along to this movie and he’s 8 years old and he thoroughly enjoyed it. And it was a real fantastic moment for me as a father to be in a movie that a) my son could see and b) to have that movie be so wonderful, so I feel very blessed and privileged.
Abrams: I have to say when I heard you were coming in for the role I thought ‘What?’ – you know, the sort of Lord of the Rings stud, the evil guy from the Bourne film like this, you know – come on! When Karl came in and started reading for Bones it was literally like channelling - it was not an impersonation, it was like channelling the soul of the character. I was blown away. I mean, you really must have absorbed that. Somehow you just managed to become that character in away that I was….[jaw dropped] it was unbelievable , so I could not have been more grateful that day.
Urban: I just about blew the screentest because I hadn’t; done theatre for so long and I ‘m sort of half way through the scene and I hear this laughter and I think “What the hell is that? What’s so funny?” It was JJ and I almost completely forgot my lines and I remember taking an extraordinarily long pause between lines and thought that I’d completely blown it and at the end he was like “Wow. That’s it, That’s Bones” and he looked round to Bryan Burke and April Webster the producer and he was like “Well, I guess we should do it again?”
Pegg: Did you get it?
Julian Beck wanted to know how the cast and Abrams could see Star Trek going forward.
Pine: Well, that’s a difficult question. I think, um, you know JJ and Bob and Alex and Damon and Brian everybody that’s behind it, I have complete faith in and they’ve clearly opened the door for myriad possibilities with the new kind of trick that they’ve played in out Kirk version, that I think, I mean god knows there’s plenty of places for it to go. I love the character so much I would love to be part of any future incarnations of the story, although right now we’re here right now to promote this one I think its presumptuous yet to start talking about future ones. I think he movie that we made is fantastic and hopefully it will be appealing enough that we’ll find room for new stories.
Saldana: Yes, I would do another one. But I’d want to play Scotty and Simon should play Sulu, and Sulu should be Nero…
Cho: I would come back because for one, we had such a good time making it my memory of our time together is primarily of laughter, but secondly I just think, for me, I’m really proud to be associated with this franchise. It has been very positive …to say the Enterprise is essentially a group of people of different races and species working towards a common peaceful goal and I just think that is timely and lovely and O think it’s a film, or films, I would be proud for my son to watch.
Bana: I’m very hopeful for the entire cast. [I hope] there’s a sequel because they thoroughly deserve it. Unfortunately, for my instance there are two black holes – one in the film and one in my contract that possibly preclude me from coming back. I will visit the set at the very least to visit my dear friends we’ve had so much fan.
Abrams: Nothing would be more fun than to work with them again but I think hat what Chris said is tight, its insanely presumptuous to be talking about it. The good news is, if people like it and there’s demand for another one, the actors and writers and I will be back, but we don’t have a story, we don’t have an outline or a thought.
Bana: Nero: The Younger Years? The previously unseen story?
And that, I think, is the end of that. I hope you enjoyed having access to all of this information. If this is the kind of thing you do want more of, then please give us some clue in the comments below and I, for one, will do my best to keep such coverage coming.