TV Week, May 2-8, 2009

Boldly Going Backwards

IN THE LATES STAR TREK FILM, EVERYTYHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN AS THE ENTERPRISE CREW TAKE THEIR FIRST MISSION INTO SPACE.

Although there have been 10 Star Trek movies in the past 30 years, the last to feature all the characters from the 1960s TV series was back in 1991. So when Lost and Alias creator JJ Abrams was approached to reboot the franchise, it was obvious a fresh approach was needed. Not only were the original actors either deceased or too old for an action blockbuster, but a new angle was required to attract an audience beyond the faithful army of Trekkies. Thus, the idea of a prequel was hatched – a film that would take the story and iconic characters back to their beginnings.

On their recent visit to Australia, Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine, who have stepped into the roles of Spock and Kirk respectively, sat down with TV WEEK to discuss their Star Trek voyage.

Trekkies are notorious for the lengths they go to. How extreme was the secrecy surrounding this film?

Zachary: Geez! [Laughs] My first day of shooting was at a cemetery about 30 miles (48km) outside of LA. We were shooting in this chapel which has a huge bay window and originally, we were given barber smock, just like shawls, to wear to walk from our trailer to the set. JJ came to me with his iPhone and showed me pictures of him and I talking in the very room in which we were shooting that had been taken from outside and posted online. The next day, we had floor – length vinyl fireman’s jackets with hoods and we had to get into golf carts that were completely shrouded with black tarp and zipped up. Once we were shooting on the lot, our base camp was completely surrounded by a chainlink fence you couldn’t see through.

This film takes us back to the beginning – and Spock and Kirk can’t stand each other!

Chris: It makes sense that Spock and Kirk aren’t the best of friends. What we see are two incredibly obstinate people who are at loggerheads, but the same reasons that push them apart are what they come to love and respect about one another. I think the relationship between Spock, Kirk and Bones (Karl Urban) as well, is so important because it’s three guys who are pigheaded and you need three perspectives on the bridge.

Early into the film, Nero (Eric Bana) travel back from the future to seek revenge – and in doing so, changes the course of history. Was that a good way for JJ to wipe the slate clean and take the story in any direction he wanted?

Z: A little bit, yeah

C: JJ stresses that it a reimagining. It’s the character you know, the world you know, the aesthetic you’re familiar with… but I’m not William Shatner and Zach’s not Leonard Nimoy; it’s a new journey. It’s a new imagining of an old story, so there are liberties that are taken. But respect is definitely paid.

Most of the classic Star Trek phrases make a comeback in the film – how fun was it to say them?

Z: it was great, the first time I say, “Live long and prosper” it has a very different undertone than it usually does and it’s nice to play with that stuff. Anyone who’s been a fan for 40 years will be satisfied by these things that are clearly nods to them but, at the same time, we’re refashioning them and having a good time with them.

Leonard Nimoy makes a guest appearance, too. Was it daunting having the original Spock on set?

Z: Leonard was integrally involved, for me, from the beginning. I was the first one cast so I had months before we started shooting to prepare, and he was instrumental in that time. We’ve actually become very close and I consider Leonard a friend. So it wasn’t daunting so much as it was reassuring for me.

And Chris, apparently you stopped watching early episode of the series because it was interfering with your preparation. Is that true?

C: I did. I’m a perfectionist by nature, so on getting the role, I was doing my due diligence. I started watching the first season and really enjoying it – to my surprise, because I’ve never been a fan before. What Mr Shanter did was so unique that I found myself trying to create a perfect impersonation, which would have done neither myself nor anyone in the movie any justice. JJ prescription for this role was to pay tribute to what had come before, but to do my own interpretation.

There are some fantastic stunts in the film – how gruelling were they to shoot?

C: Way more so than I thought they would be! In script, there were pages of action sequences that I’d just casually skim through, not knowing that those four or five pages would take a month and a half to shoot. I have so much more respect for the action heroes of this world now – it’s way harder that I ever thought

Z: For me, the stunt training was gruelling. I did more training for stunt sequences that ended up not being shot.

Will there be a sequel?

Z: A sequel? You wanna do one?

C: Sure.

Z: OK, we’re doing one.

Story by: Gavin Scott