Karl Urban Added A DeForest Kelley Homage To The Script Of Star Trek: Beyond

To say that the cast of the recent "Star Trek" films have had a lot to live up to would be quite the understatement. Not only were the actors tasked with leading a whole new era in the storied franchise — carrying the weight of reinvigorating mainstream audience interest in "Trek" — but they also had to worry about fully embodying each of their characters while paying homage to the legendary performers who originally played those parts. Chris Pine channeled his inner swashbuckler to step into the massive shoes left by William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk and Zachary Quinto faced an even trickier challenge in putting on the pointy ears to portray the logic-obsessed Spock after Leonard Nimoy first made that role his own.

Every other member of the bridge crew faced the exact same obstacle. Perhaps none, however, put more of an effort to do right by their predecessor than Karl Urban as the always-curmudgeonly Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy.

A group effort

Though always a highlight throughout both "Star Trek" (2009) and its sequel, "Star Trek Into Darkness," actor Karl Urban's approach for Bones arguably didn't come into his own until Justin Lin's "Star Trek Beyond," the standalone sequel that played out almost like a feature-length episode of "The Original Series." Thanks to a clever script with an eye for intriguing character pairings, he more acutely resembled DeForest Kelley's original take than ever before. But one key detail that helped round out his performance and evoke the fan-favorite portrayal to a greater extent didn't even come from the script.

In an interview with Den of Geek timed to the 2016 film's theatrical release, Urban was asked how much input the actors had in fleshing out their legacy characters and establishing the tone. According to Urban:

"Early on, [co-writer] Simon [Pegg] emailed us an early draft and said, 'Here it is. Let me know what you think.' And, you know, 'If there's anything you'd like to see in it, let's work on it.' ... That's exactly what we did. I can look at that picture and see many different beats from that collaboration up on the screen. I'm quite proud of that."

When asked for specifics, Urban singled out a brief but key moment: "The sequence where Bones finds out that he has to go and fly a spaceship and he's not happy about it. That thing about, [huffily] 'The next time you need a doctor...' To me, that was a throwback I'd seen DeForest [Kelley] get to do. I was always looking for the opportunity to sprinkle a little bit of that in there."

Sometimes the script leads the performances, and sometimes it's the other way around. This one scene in "Star Trek Beyond" is an example of the latter.