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J.J. Abrams on Star Trek

Published May 5, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Paramount
Star Trek Poster Star Trek Poster
J.J. Abrams has learned what it means to mess with Star Trek. In the years since he began production on his reboot film, he has faced every minute fan question about any anticipated contradiction of the canon. He knew he was getting into dangerous territory, but Trek was worth it.

JJ Abrams on Star Trek

“Because the script was so strong, because the characters were so good, and because the actors were so good, I felt like the risk of playing with something that is precious to many people was, to me, such a worthy risk,” Abrams said. “I felt like the result, if we did our job, could be a really fun movie and could introduce to so many people, who had never seen it or thought it wasn’t for them or had never even heard of it, these characters who are so wonderful and the actors were so great.”

While Trekkers will count the star date of every event in the backstory, all most viewers know is William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. For them, Abrams still had to find a new cast the world would believe as young Kirk and Spock.

“Casting the movie was a huge challenge and we were incredibly lucky to find these actors. April Webster and Alyssa Weisberg, who are our casting directors, are terrific. But, I’ve never had to cast something that had something that pre-existed it, where the actors have to take over these iconic roles. The key to each of these actors, and the one or two similarities, is that beyond just being incredibly talented, they’re all funny. They all have a great sense of humor, and that was incredibly important because I knew Star Trek had been parodied so many times that it had to be funny from the inside out.”

Even though it is set in the future, Star Trek still conjures up feelings of the past. This was the ‘60s idea of what the future would be like. These kids today have very different expectations for their legacy.

“It was a weird conundrum to do a movie with a vision of the future from today, based on a vision of the future from 50 years ago. The prism through which everything had to be seen through was, ‘How do you take the spirit of what was created nearly half a century ago, whether it’s character, prop design, ship design, the world of it or anything, and make it feel relevant for today?’ That was just a billion small decisions.”

Technically, one of Abrams’ added touches was to let the lens flare in various scenes. “The flares weren’t just flares that were happening from on-camera light sources, but they were happening off camera, and that was really the key to it. I wanted that sense that, just off camera, something spectacular was happening and there was always this sense of something. It was this ridiculous, added level of pain in the ass, but the final effect, to me, was a fun, additional touch that, while overdone in some places, felt like the future is that bright.”

The film is, of course, dedicated to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Unfortunately, his wife Majel Barrett Roddenberry must now join in the posthumous dedication.

“The dedication was always intended for Gene because none of us would be here doing any of this, if it weren’t for what he created. Sadly, when Majel passed away, we added her name to the card. We already had the card for Gene, so we added her name as well.”
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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Paramount

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