'Star Trek Into Darkness' director J.J. Abrams discusses whether he would take on a third 'Trek' and that new 'Star Wars' movie
'Star Trek Into Darkness' can be seen by 'Trek' fans and newbies, Abrams says, and the opportunity to direct the new 'Star Wars' movie makes him 'feel preposterously lucky.' 'Star Trek Into Darkness' hit theaters May 17.
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Abrams' characters are drawn directly from the original series, led by impulsive, cocksure Capt. James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and uber-logical Vulcan first officer Spock (Zachary Quinto). But the filmmakers gave themselves freedom to play with character and plot, thanks to some alternate-universe sleight of hand.Skip to next paragraph
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"Star Trek Into Darkness" picks up where the first film left off, with the crew of the Starship Enterprise in the midst of a high-octane outer space adventure. Then a personal crisis shakes Kirk's confidence, and a terrorist attack shatters Starfleet. Soon the crew are off in pursuit of a villain — played with muscular menace by "Sherlock" star Benedict Cumberbatch — who may be an ally, or the enemy within.
Treats for fans of the original series are scattered about like Easter eggs — there's the return of an iconic character, even a tribble.
"Star Trek Into Darkness" retains the thread of social commentary that ran through the 1960s original, asking how far is it morally acceptable to go in waging a war on terror. But the film, shot in almost overwhelming IMAX 3-D, also announces its action credentials in a visually spectacular opening scene set on an alien planet of crimson-red forests and roiling volcanic eruption.
If the stakes were high — first in reviving "Star Trek," then in trying to outdo the first film's box office tally of almost $400 million worldwide — Abrams said he didn't notice.
"I was aware of the pressure but never really felt it, because I was not a 'Star Trek' fan," he said. "Working on it didn't carry the same sort of personal challenge of wanting it to meet a feeling that I had had since I was a kid."
For "Star Wars" — which he emphatically has loved since childhood — the stakes are even higher. Abrams knows he has to find a new way to approach material that has seeped into the global bloodstream. He also has to erase the tang of disappointment that clings to the inferior second trilogy, released between 1999 and 2005.
Abrams says his approach will be similar in some ways to the one he took on with "Star Trek."
"No project can be or should be approached assuming that the audience has any investment," he said. "If they do, that's a bonus. But it doesn't preclude the required steps of reintroduction."
He is fairly certain about one thing — the worlds of 'Star Wars' and 'Star Trek' will never meet.
"One is a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. And one is us in a few hundred years," he said.
"They could not feel more different to me. I feel like in my mind there is no Venn diagram overlap."
He hasn't ruled out directing a third "Star Trek" film, though he acknowledges, "it feels unlikely — but it's a very bittersweet thing to admit."
Abrams, whose output suggests a ferocious work rate and a lack of sleep, insists he almost turned down "Star Wars" because he had enough on his plate already.
"We had family plans, and I thought the next movie I was going to do was a small, very specific story that we're working on, a comedy-drama that I really love," he said. "And then this thing came along that was a fairly unique opportunity and it sort of interrupted every expectation of what the next couple of years were going to be."
But colleagues scoff at the idea he could ever have said no to his dream job.
"I knew he loved 'Star Wars' so much that my first thought was 'Oh my God, my friend is going to get to do what he's always wanted to do,'" Orci said. "On the other hand, I'm a 'Star Trek' geek, and I was like, ' You traitor!'"
Pine admits to being "a little heartbroken that he won't be back for the third to direct us, because he's obviously gained all our trust."
But, the actor said, "I'm excited for him and can't wait to see what he brings to ("Star Wars"), because as a kid from the 'Star Wars' generation, it's something near and dear to my heart. And I know what he's capable of doing."