'Star Trek' rebooted
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alt2009 May 04

How the cast and crew approached an all new vision of a sci-fi favorit

By Geoff Berkshire for Metromix


Everyone (or at least almost everyone) said “Star Trek” was dead. The 2002 movie “Star Trek: Nemesis” was a box office bust, making just $45 million on a $60 million budget, TV’s “Enterprise” was canceled back in 2005 and even Las Vegas’ long-running attraction “Star Trek: The Experience” closed its doors last year.

So how come an all new “Star Trek” is one of the most anticipated movies of the summer?

When the cast and crew of “Trek” gathered for a recent series of Los Angeles press conferences, they shared an inside look at the plan to revive a sci-fi classic.

Why the new filmmaking team decided to take a risk and reboot the franchise with a time travel storyline that gave classic “Star Trek” characters a fresh start…

Director J.J. Abrams: I felt like the risk of playing with something that's precious to many people was such a worthy risk. The result, if we did our job, could be a really fun movie, and could introduce [“Trek”] to people who thought it wasn't for them or people who have never heard of it.

Co-writer Alex Kurtzman: We come from a place where we've loved ["Trek"] since we were kids. If someone came along, took something as precious as "Star Trek" and threw out everything that came before, we thought that would be really wrong. The dilemma for us was if we knew how [everything] turned out there wouldn't be much jeopardy. So that's how [the idea of creating a] different timeline came about.

Original “Trek” cast member Leonard Nimoy reprises his role as Spock for the first time since 1991. (Younger Spock is played by “Heroes” Zachary Quinto.) But don't expect anyone else from the old crew to make an appearance…

Leonard Nimoy: The makers of this film reawakened in me the passion that I had when we made the original films and the series. I was put back in touch with what I liked about "Star Trek" and why I enjoyed being involved in "Star Trek." [The franchise] went off in a direction that I didn't relate to very well. [The new filmmakers] said things, showed me things and demonstrated a sensibility that I felt very comfortable with. I think it shows in the movie. I like it.

J.J. Abrams: Nothing would have made us happier than to have William Shatner in this movie. His character died on screen in [“Star Trek: Generations”]. Everytime we [had an idea to use him] it was a gimmick, unless the whole story was about bringing him back. It was either change everything, or do it without him. It literally didn't work for our story.

Leonard Nimoy: Bill [Shatner] and I are very, very close friends, we have been for a very, very long time. I pointed out to him that we're even now, because he acted in one of the “Star Trek” movies that I was not in. He had to admit that was true. He genuinely wants the movie to be a success.

Why the filmmakers felt justified in taking great pains to keep their storyline under wraps…

Alex Kurtzman: When you went to see “Empire Strikes Back” you had to wait four years to find out the answer to what happens next. As horrible as that was, that’s part of the experience. You have to wait. Now people literally have bounties out on scripts. Why do you want to spoil it, when the experience is about going into the theater? The audience should be able to go in and feel the experience of the movie. J.J.’s paranoia is high but warranted. Everybody works too hard for [the story] to be spoiled.

J.J. Abrams: There were literally people who posted online, “We’re going to get the script and review it.” And we were like “OK, we’re not going to let you get it.”

Co-writer Roberto Orci: We worked really hard to protect the story. In this movie the story is the spectacle in a way, it is the character interactions that matter. We're not relying on just some giant robot [Orci and Kurtzman also wrote “Transformers” and its upcoming sequel]. We were very protective of the experience of what happens.

Producer Bryan Burk: If [the storyline of the movie] leaked out of context, different “Star Trek” fans would have coronaries over what happens. In the context of the movie it all works.

Alex Kurtzman: Context is everything. Without it you think, “Oh my god, they don't care.” You walk into the movie with a defensive attitude and that's not ideal for anybody.


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