Written by Judy Sloane Monday, 04 May 2009 09:41
As Star Trek shoots to the top of the box office we talk to stars Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy, Zoe Saldana and Karl Urban..Leonard, what made you decide this was the right project to bridge the old Star Trek with the new Star Trek?
LEONARD NIMOY The makers of this film re-awakened the passion in me that I had when we made the original film and series. I was put back in touch with what I cared about and liked about Star Trek, and why I enjoyed being involved with Star Trek. So, it was an easy way to come on home!
Zachary, in playing the young Spock you obviously have a close bond with Nimoy’s character. What was it like working with such a Trek Legend?
ZACHARY QUINTO Working with Leonard was an incredible honor, The whole experience, for me, was so fulfilling, in terms of just getting to know him and understanding how this character has informed his creative processes and his life. Having him as a resource and such a generous available support system, actually made it so much easier for me to step into the experience.
And did you study old Star Trek episodes to get more into the character of Spock?
QUINTO Leonard and I watched a couple episodes together and talked about his experience shooting those episodes, but aside from that, I felt that it was incumbent upon me to determine my own relationship with this character. That was the mandate that J.J. set forth, very early on in the process. We were expected to use the foundation as a point of entry into our own experiences with the characters.
Karl, you obviously discovered your relationship with Bones very early on as your performance is pitch-perfect. Were you a fan of the original series?
KARL URBAN Yes, I would define myself as a long-time fan of the original series. I watched it as a boy, religiously, every Saturday morning. About two years before I found out that they were making this new Star Trek, I bought the entire DVD box set and watched it with my son. So, when they started casting, I didn’t necessarily need to go back and study up. I felt that I knew the characters and the archetypes and the relationships really, really well. It was a wonderful experience.
Leonard, what were your feelings about William Shatner not being involved in this Star Trek?
NIMOY Bill and I are very, very close friends, and we have been for a very, very long time. I was aware that he wanted to be in the movie. I was aware that JJ Abrams and the writers spent time with him, to try to find a process where he could be involved, but it just didn’t work out. I don’t know exactly why.
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, and he had to admit that that was true! And, we’re over it. I think it’s history. I think he genuinely wants the movie to be a success.
You’ve played Spock for years; were you able to guide Zachary’s portrayal of the character?
NIMOY Zach made some choices that I thought were wonderful surprises to me. We had very general conversations about the philosophy and psychology of the character, the philosophy of Star Trek and the fans’ reactions to various aspects of Star Trek, but there was no specific instruction. It didn’t need that, and it didn’t call for that. But, watching him in the film, I’m very proud of what he did. I loved the idea that he is doing the character, and that he did it so well. And, I think we have book-ended the character. He has created a Spock that comes before the Spock that I portrayed in the series, and I’m playing a Spock that comes much, much later and us much more resolved, and is much closer to who I actually am today. So, I think it works extremely well, and I admire his talent.
Zoe, did you speak to Nichelle Nichols to help with your role of Uhura?
ZOE SALDANA I was able to meet Nichelle, 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 these characters, not only remembering the fundamental essences of all of them, but also not being afraid to add any innovation.
That’s where JJ comes in. I thought it was incredibly witty, on his behalf, to make it the beginning and show them as young people that are not comfortable in their own skin. They’re meeting for the first time and they’re starting off with a clean palette. You know that they need to end up the way that they are in the series, but it’s completely different. They could be lost, they could be found, they could have all these relationships, and 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.
Zachary, obviously in the movie Spock has to deal with some very deep emotions. How did you strike a balance between his logic and his feelings?
QUINTO Well, I think it’s a common misconception that Spock doesn’t feel emotion. I think he feels emotion very deeply, but he’s just restricted in the way that he’s able to express it. For me, it was about cultivating a deeply rooted inner life, and not being able to do much, other than to hold on to it, which can be frustrating as an actor, especially when, around me, my fellow actors are emoting and running about, and having a good time. Obviously, it’s a formidable challenge, and one that I was really excited to be faced with.
How did you deal with the huge fan expectation for this new Star Trek?
URBAN I, personally, feel very, very grateful that there is an entity of fans out there that have such a deep admiration, respect and love for Star Trek. We’re very blessed to have them. And, indeed, if it wasn’t for them, the original show would have been canceled at the end of the second season. So, we hope this movie that we have made, that we are proud of, that we love and that we had such fun making, is received and appreciated and loved by those fans because there’s a lot in there for them.
At the same point, though, it doesn’t matter if you have never seen a Star Trek movie or television series before. You can go along to this movie and enjoy the phenomenal ride and the wonderful characters, and really get in on the ground level. So, kudos to JJ!
Zachary, did JJ give you any specific direction on how he wanted you to play Spock?
QUINTO I remember when I first sat down with JJ to talk to him about playing the role, I was in there for 45 minutes, and I think he spoke for about 43 of them. There was such an overwhelming vision and enthusiasm and clarity about what he wanted this to be and, more importantly, what he didn’t want it to be. And that, for me, set a really solid framework, in which we were all allowed to play and explore and discover, on our own. It was a very collaborative spirit, and a very optimistic spirit, in terms of the kind of story he wanted to tell.
Interviews by Judy Sloane r />Star Trek opens on May 8th