The Romance That Changed Star Trek Forever
J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek takes your familiar crewmembers places they’ve never been before – including one love story that will forever alter the crew’s dynamic. We asked writers Orci and Kurtzman about it. Beware spoilers!
If you’ve been following the movie’s press lately, you’ll already be aware that the film’s big love story is between Spock and Uhura. We know, some of you are running from this scary change right now, but before you grab your phaser rifles, we went directly to writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, and asked them about it.
How did you go about deciding and executing such a huge canon-changing relationship?
Orci: A lot of the things in the movie could conceivably match with what happened in any Universe. We know that Kirk cheated on the Kobayashi Maru, [for example]. In the original series, the first interracial kiss was Kirk and Uhura. One of the things we tried to do with this movie was, try to play with keeping some things the same – and other things, maybe the exact opposite.
That was one of those scenarios where we thought, “If that’s in the original universe, maybe this one becomes Spock and Uhura.” It brings out his human side, it fits Spock’s arc for the surprise of the fact that he does share humanity and in the revelation that his father did love his mother, and therefore Spock himself is then capable of that and you see that with him and Uhura. It fits him.
Kurtzman: Knowing that it was a really controversial decision, the most important thing for us was, to not be cute or try to be clever about how we were going to reveal it, but to actually provide genuine emotional context. And I think whether or not you agree with our choice, what you can’t argue with is: You just watched this man, who you really care about, show that he’s struggling with his identity, lose his mother, and watch his planet blow up. And because he’s a Vulcan, he has to be stoic about it.
When you as an audience want somebody to give the man a hug, you want some connection for him. So when Uhura does that, you’re simultaneously taken aback, but also a bit relieved that he has somewhere to take that. So we felt like that would be the best access point to reveal that to the audience. We built it up in those earlier scenes, [so] you get that sense. There are little seeds planted along the way.
But what about the rest of the crew? What do they think? At this weekend’s press conference, we got the chance to hear Zoe Saldana and Zachary Quinto’s impressions on a love that could potentially change the universe..
Saldana described the moment she learned about it:
They locked us in the office at Bad Robot, so that we could read the script, and I dropped it and grabbed my Blackberry and kept saying, “This man’s crazy! J.J.’s out of his mind. I’m not that aware about Star Trek, but I do know that [Spock and Uhura] never mingled. It’s crazy!” But once I finished the script, it just made so much sense. They have the most similar characteristics. I almost feel like she had this admiration for Spock because he was older and sort of like a teacher, and there was this crush or platonic infatuation with someone that’s wiser, wittier, handsome and had pointy ears. Why not?
Quinto went on to explain what he felt it meant to baby Spock to have this outlet.
The relationship between Spock and Uhura, that dynamic provides a lot of levity and humor between Kirk and Spock and between Kirk and Uhura. But between Spock and Uhura, I think it actually represents a depth, whereby Uhura is almost a canvas onto whom Spock can project the emotion that he is not able to express himself.
But of course Leonard Nimoy felt left out by Young Spock’s conquest:
Frankly, I was extremely jealous of his scenes with Zoe Saldana, and I think it’s totally unfair that I never got to do that. I will never forgive the writers and the director, for having put me in this position, to have to be watching that, rather than participating.