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Zoe Saldana on Star Trek

Published May 9, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Paramount
Star Trek Star Trek

A big surprise for Trekkers in the new Star Trek will be scenes of Spock macking on Uhura. Even Zoe Saldana, who plays young Uhurua, couldn’t believe it at first.

Zoe Saldana is Uhura

“If there was a camera showing you guys when I was in that office,” she said. “They locked us in the office at Bad Robot and we had to read the script and I dropped it and I grabbed my Blackberry and I kept saying, ‘This man’s crazy! JJ’s out of his mind. I’m not that aware about Star Trek, but I do know that they never mingled. It’s crazy!’ And then, once I finished the script, it made so much sense. They have the most similar characteristics. I almost feel that she had this sort of admiration for Spock because he was older and sort of this teacher; that it was this crush or a platonic infatuation with someone that’s wiser, wittier, handsome, pointy ears… why not?”

Harder to deal with during filming were the demands of visual effects. “Let’s say we’re shooting a scene and there’s 7 of us looking out on a green screen and it’s Nero’s ship. JJ is on the sidelines, shouting ‘It’s Nero’s ship!” And we’re all looking and he’ll stop us because we’re all looking in different directions. To Zach, Nero’s Ship is over there, and to me it’s here, to Bruce it’s there. And it’s like, ‘what is going on?’ And sometimes JJ would have to get up from his chair and grab a big orange piece of tape and make a big X and say, ‘That’s Nero’s ship!’ Those are the kinds of things that make you laugh when you’re asked questions like that. It’s like, ‘Oh, that day with Nero’s ship, we just couldn’t find it.’ It’s hard.”

Playing a landmark character like Uhura, Saldana consulted with the original. “I did speak with Nichelle a couple of times and the response was completely overwhelming and we would talk about that sometimes on set. We felt completely supported and the pressure was just removed the moment Mr. Nimoy stepped on set. And Nichelle, I was able to meet her, and there was this overall happiness and excitement that Star Trek was coming back and that we were stepping into the family. It made it much easier for us to approach this character, not only remembering the fundamental essences of all of them, but also not to be afraid to add any innovation.”

Then Saldana made Uhura her own. “That’s where J.J. comes in. I thought it was incredibly witty on his behalf, to make the beginning, to show them as young people, that they’re not comfortable in their own skin, they’re meeting for the first time and they’re kind of starting off with a clean palette. And you know that they need to end up the way that they are in the series, but it’s completely different. It says nothing about how they’re going to start. They could be lost, they could be found, they could have all these relationships, all these battles within themselves and each other and they’re still going to complete these missions on the Enterprise. So, sometimes knowing the end can give you a better perspective on where to start.”

Star Trek is out in theaters now.

For the posters, trailers, stills, reviews and additional info, go to the Star Trek Movie Page.
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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Paramount

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