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The press conference for the new installment of the Star Trek franchise was, well… Beyond. This is a cast, who while identifying themselves more like a family than co-stars, faced a tremendous loss with the sudden death of Anton Yelchin after filming what is projected to be the most successful installment yet. Undoubtedly this was an emotional rollercoaster but the professionals that they all are, forged forward with the old Hollywood mantra…the show must go on and see a bright future ahead.
Read as we hear from the stars on everything from character additions, changes, new costumes, and using Jennifer Lawrence to name a character.
Q: For Simon, I heard the director say that the main reason why he wanted to tackle this project was because his childhood dream was sort of to blow up the enterprise and then bring it back together. Was that a collaborative effort, or was that all his idea that he presented to you and then you guys developed it in the script?
Simon Pegg: I hated the idea at first. I swear, we had like, rows about it. I was shouting down the phone, going: “You can’t do that! You can’t destroy the enterprise!” My problem was that, if you think it’s something new, then we’ve seen it before. It happened in “Search for Spock,” it happened in “Generations.” But Justin was like, very-very determined, and as we spoke about it, I realized what he was doing brilliantly was, he was, not only sort of taking out a main character, but he was removing the physical connective tissue between the crew. To see what happens when you take away the thing that physically bonds them together. If you take away that thing that necessitates their being a unit, do they dissipate? Or do they come back together? And that was the genius of that thing. You take it away very-very violently and dramatically, and then you wait and see if they all come back together to be this family, which is essentially what they are. And, of course they do. And I realized, I backed down immediately and said, “Yeah, you’re right.” Which I do occasionally do that, not always. But in this instance, I realized it was a brilliant idea. But yeah, initially I was opposed to it.
Q: The film has such a lovely tribute to Leonard Nimoy, and was there initial expectation earlier on in the process that he would be part of the film before his passing?
Simon Pegg: When did Leonard die? It was during the writing process wasn’t it?
Zachary Quinto: Yeah, he did February 27. I think if Leonard was well-enough to be a part of this film, I’m sure he would’ve been. I know that there were early conversations with him about that possibility, which, true to his incredible self, he knew himself well enough to know that wouldn’t be possible at a certain point. And then I think it became important to all of us to figure a way to honor his legacy, and I thought Simon and Doug did a beautiful job of incorporating it into the narrative of the film. We all carried him with us through this production, for sure. And it was definitely a different kind of feeling to make this movie without him, for me in particular. But I think he was very much a part of it in spirit, and certainly in the film now, and will be a part of anything we do moving forward for sure.
Q: Zoe, can you talk about the evolution of your character? And also her feelings for Spock in this movie.
Zoe Saldana: She’s tired. I think she’s homesick, and I felt that’s the one thing that I appreciated the most about what Simon and Doug did for this installment, is that, they made us human, and just homesick and sad, and how being overly worked and being away from home, and all the things that keep you grounded, can put a strain not just on the intimate relationships that you may have, but also the professional ones. And I thought I would never see the day where I would walk into the Enterprise and we’re kind of like, not rolling our eyes at each other, but we’re not that,— excited to see each other. And I thought, “Okay, well, this is a great place to start because I can only imagine where we’re going to end up.” And we literally end up in the opposite direction. We’re dying to be close to each other. We’re dying to save each other and get back together. So I thought, “Okay, that’s brilliant.” I guess that relationship with Spock and Uhura felt so normal and human to me that it’s sort of the consequences may occur when you decide to love your co-worker in a lovey-dovey way. It’s just sometimes the professionalism can get in the way of the spirituality and I feel like that’s what happened between both of them. I do have a feeling that it was probably her decision to sort of go, “Listen, you have a lot of stuff that’s about to start brewing from your end, and I have to figure some stuff out, so it’s probably just best…”
Zachary Quinto: That was your decision?
[laughs] I think it ends on a really hopefully note. Don’t you? Let’s go with hope. [laughs]
Zoe Saldana: But I mean, if he were to walk in with some other Vulcan girl, shit will go down. [laughs]
Zachary Quinto: That Vulcan amulet would come right off. [laughs]
Q: John, we get a complete evolution into Sulu’s history and background. Where did this idea originate?
John Cho: The idea came up, I believe Simon pitched it and then I was told of it through Justin pretty early on when he had set-up at Paramount and we went in to have a chat and get reacquainted. I thought it was a beautiful idea. I had concerns about how it would be received, by George (Takei), and I had some other concerns, but it was really the handling of it that was most important to me, And I think, having seen the film, I think it’s nonchalant postured toward it, is the best thing about it. And the fact that it’s normalized, and it’s kind of news now but if you rewatch the movie in 10 years, you won’t think anything of it. It’ll just go right by you, and that’s the best thing about it. There’s no music cue. There’s no close up, it’s just…
Simon Pegg: (sings: Dun-dun-duuunn) “He’s gay!”
Chris Pine: “He’s gay, everybody!”
Simon Pegg: “He’s with a man!”
Zoe Saldana: The one thing that I guess has taken a secondary position is that, it wasn’t just that we revealed that he’s gay. We revealed that he’s a father. So, none of our characters have families that we’ve ever talked about. So I actually feel quite puzzled that in 2016 we’re having a bit of a fit over who he fathered a baby with. I’m happy he’s a dad.
Q: This film is a bit bittersweet with the loss of Anton (Yelchin, plays Pavel Chekov). How would you explain what it was like working with him and moving forward without him
Karl Urban: First off all, it’s terrible to lose a family member. You know, we’re at a point where we should be celebrating this film, but also this beautiful man…this talented man. And for all of us it is almost incomprehensible where we have to talk about him in the past. The pain of his loss is still very raw. We spent time with Anton’s family and we know that they will be very proud of his contribution to film and this film will forever be probably the most special experience for all of us. It represents a golden period where our family was fully together for the last time and it really was as Simon (Pegg, plays Scotty) said, “The best summer of our adult lives.” We love him so much and we miss him terribly.
Chris Pine: He was a great guy. He was very sweet. He was very beautifully and authentically Anton. There was not much of a censor on the boy. And I remember one of the first times I met him, nine years ago or whatever, he was 17, and I invited him back to my trailer to play guitar because I knew he played guitar and he played guitar really, really well. And he said, “I can’t, man. I have to go back my trailer.” And I was like, “Okay. Why?” And he was translating an esoteric Russian novel into English because that’s what he wanted to do, and eight or nine years later I talked to him and he was still translating it. He was still reading this book physics that this French philosopher had written. He was just totally fearless. You try to grasp onto something positive out of losing such a good guy and I think it’s just be fearless creatively. He was always working on stuff. He has music projects, photography project, and he was going to direct his first film this summer. He was just spectacularly interested in life in a really great way.
Q: My next question is about props and costumes. Were the costumes tight? Did you have to skip lunch sometimes? And any gadget props you wanted to take with you after filming?
Simon Pegg: Tight around where? [laughs] I think the pants were looser.
Chris Pine: The pants were fantastic this time. So much movement. A lot of space in the ships which I appreciated. [laughs] This was the retro super future version of Star Trek. It’s looking way ahead into what Star Trek can become and also having very specific nods to the past and one of the very small things throughout the three iterations of the film so far are that there have been a lot of discussions about colors of yellow for Kirk’s shirt and the cut of the shirt and this one is a really specific nod to the original series. It’s not the kind of bright, fantastic yellow of the first and the second. It’s this lovely Kirkian mustard green. And I ate a lot of lunch.
Karl Urban: Sanja (Milkovic Hays) our costume designer did an extraordinary job. The thing I was most proud of is that unlike the previous two films we got to do with J.J., for whatever reason, I don’t know why, but the women and the Starfleet uniforms in Star Trek Beyond all had ranks on the uniforms which I think is a fantastic thing. I think a fan pointed it out to me and I was shocked that it wasn’t the case. One of the first things I did when I got to Vancouver was I went to Sanja to talk about that. And she said, “Oh. Don’t you worry. Women will have ranks.” So, I think she did a great job. Also a bit of a 60s throwback to the costumes but also making them new. I had massive envy for Chris Pine’s survival suit.
Q: Could you talk about Sofia (Boutella, plays Jayla) because she was pretty kickass in this.
Simon Pegg: Sofia is incredible because she’s a dancer so she’s physically so adept so she’s really up for the physicality of it. It’s funny. I told this story the other day. When we were in the writing room we wanted to create this very independent female, resourceful character, and we didn’t have a name for her so we used to call her “Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone”. [laughs] That was her long name. So, “Scotty lands there and suddenly Jennifer Lawrence from Winter’s Bone appears” and it got tiring because it’s a long name, so we started calling her “JLaw” and then we started calling her “Jaylah”. [laughs]
Jayla is basically named after Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone. But there aren’t enough girls in Star Trek. Zoe has a lot on her shoulders. Sofia. We all love Sofia. She’s a nutcase and a golden addition to this group.
Star Trek Beyond opens theaters nationwide July 22nd
Written by Izumi Hasegawa @HNW_Izumi
Edited by Jody Taylor @RealJodyTaylor