Sci-Fi Summit Report: More on ‘Star Trek’ and a Tale of Two Spocks
[EDITOR’S NOTE: You’re about to read our special ComicMix report on the Star Trek panel and Q&A at this year’s Grand Slam: Sci-Fi Summit in Burbank, CA. If you’d like to know more about the convention, we also have a general roundup of the Sci-Fi Summit and a special report on the James Marsters panel and Q&A session with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor. -RM]
Last Sunday, Sci-Fi Summit attendees were treated to one half of the writing team behind the upcoming Star Trek film and the recent live-action Transformers movie, as writer Roberto Orci kicked off the grand finale of the show. After the writer apologized for the absence of Alex Kurtzman, his associate of 17 years, the fans were treated to a screening of the Star Trek trailer and some photos that Orci took on set.
The trailer didn’t feature any new footage, and included shots of the U.S.S.
Orci’s slideshow also failed to reveal any spoilers, with the possible exception of a photo of an inedible-looking craft service table marked “Romulan’s Only,” confirming the appearance of the alien race in the film
When the recent writer’s strike ended, Orci said he and Kurtzman spent nine weeks writing Transformers 2 and handed in their first draft this past Friday. When asked what new Transformers fans could look forward to in the film, the writer answered, “Maybe Soundwave.”
Orci also hinted that there are Star Trek references in both of his previous films, The Island and Transformers, and there will be more references in Transformers 2. He also confirmed that the writing team did a polish on the script for Watchmen.
According to Orci, famed director Steven Spielberg played a large role in J.J. Abrams’ decision to direct Star Trek. Abrams had agreed to produce the film, but was not sure if he wanted to direct. Spielberg read the script and convinced Abrams to helm the project. Orci also recalled a set visit where the Close Encounters of the Third Kind director sat on the bridge of the
The writer then explained why having actor Leonard Nimoy involved with the film was such a pivotal part of pitching their idea to
“Story wise, we only new one way to solve the continuity issues between what’s canon and what we were doing and to have an appropriate transfer of the soul of Star Trek," said Orci. "The only way we could imagine doing it was to make sure that Leonard Nimoy was a big part of whatever we did, but he had already retired from being Spock. He spoke publicly about the fact that he never thought he’d go back."
"We went to the studio with a pitch that relied very heavily on his involvement," continued Orci. "We had a preliminary meeting with him before we went off to write, where in general we pitched him what we thought his involvement would be and what the story would be. We did the hard sell. We wouldn’t let him leave the room. We would say, ’You’re a key to this, please consider it.’ He told us, ‘I thought I was done but clearly you are all very passionate about this, so write the script and we’ll see what happens.’ God bless him, he read the script and he said yes."
When asked how large Nimoy’s role is in the film, the writer confirmed that it is not just a cameo.
Other rumors confirmed during the panel included the casting of Jennifer Morrison (House) as James Kirk’s mother, and that the writers got her character’s name from one of the Trek books. Also, Winona Ryder will play Spock’s mother and she will be human as opposed to Vulcan, like some earlier reports indicated.
Finally, when asked if Star Trek will connect or fit into canon, Orci compared it to the Supreme Court, saying, “We will follow the spirit of the law, not necessarily the letter of the law — but any changes we’ve made were inspired by canon.”
After that, with much excitement from the audience, Zachary Quinto took the stage. The Heroes actor spoke about how he campaigned for the role of Spock.
“I was fortunate to find out that they were making this movie, right as my episodes of Heroes were about to start airing," said Quinto. "I was doing a lot of press for the show and people would ask me if there was anything else I was interested in working on. So I started talking about [Star Trek] in interviews. I tried to learn as much about the project as I could and get my interest out there. When the casting directors started to investigate whom to cast, they heard that I was interested already. They called me in and that was the genesis of how I got the part. I was fortunate for the timing and how it all worked out.”
According to Quinto, he was also fortunate with the timing of the recent writers strike. The producers of Star Trek worked out a deal with the producers of Heroes wherein Quinto would play the show’s villain, Sylar, for the first 11 episodes of Season Two. After that, he would leave the show to shoot Star Trek and return to Heroes for Season Three. Because of the strike, it just so happened that his last day of shooting Heroes ended up being production’s final day before the strike. So, as it worked out, Quinto was able to shoot Star Trek during the strike and is now ready to start Season Three of Heroes, allowing Sylar to not be absent from any episodes of the hit series.
Quinto gave away the following information while fielding Heroes questions from the audience: The actor stated that he has no clue what’s going to happen in Season Three and has seen no scripts, but has had a few conversations with the writers. He also said that he is excited to go back, and shooting starts in two weeks.
When asked if Sylar’s powers actually come from the eating of his victims’ brains, the actor could not confirm.
“It’s never been committed to that I ingest the brains to derive the power from the people," the actor clarified.
A fan asked how Sylar got from
When asked if he was daunted by the role of Spock, he replied, “No, because I had Leonard’s blessing.”
And with that, the original Mr. Spock took to the stage. After an embrace and a large round of applause, the young actor left the stage to allow Leonard Nimoy to take questions from his fans.
Nimoy told a funny anecdote about an encounter he recently had with a fan at a presidential fund-raiser: One of the three current candidates approached Nimoy with his fingers in the famous Vulcan pose and said, “I’m a big fan." Nimoy revealed that the candidate in question was none other than Senator Barack Obama.
Nimoy talked about his excitement for the new Star Trek project, saying, “Ten years ago you had Star Trek: Insurrection and now, 10 years later, you have the resurrection of Star Trek.” He described the new film as a “revival of the entire Star Trek franchise."
"It’s a great script, wonderful director, a great cast and you have every reason to be excited about it," Nimoy assured the fans. “They’ve done some wonderful work in developing the origins of Spock, Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu and the whole group. I’m excited about being in this movie.”
The question of William Shatner and his lack of involvement in the new film came up, to which Nimoy responded that he was not involved in the decision to not have Shatner in the film, but that he does have strong feelings about Kirk’s death in Star Trek: Generations. He went on to say that he had been offered a part in Generations but turned it down because it was only five lines and they wanted to kill Kirk.
“Bill was in the movie and Bill died in the movie. Captain Kirk died in the movie," said Nimoy. "I didn’t think his death was a terribly important death in terms of the importance of the character. In a word, I thought it was gratuitous — like someone said, ‘Well, let’s kill off Kirk.’ I resented it. I felt it was wrong. I was asked to direct that movie. I didn’t like the script and I certainly wasn’t going to direct the movie were Captain Kirk died. I’ve said to Bill, ‘If I had directed it, you wouldn’t have died.’"
"I didn’t want to see it happen and I’m very sad that it happened," continued Nimoy. "Now having said that, while the Spock character was still out there as an ambassador, the Kirk character is gone. Sadly gone. It would have been very difficult and damaging to this new film to try and inject Bill Shatner into this movie. I feel bad about it and think it’s a loss. It would have been wonderful to have Bill Shatner in the movie as Captain Kirk, but it just wouldn’t work. It’s painful for me to say that I have come to accept that and I believe that Bill Shatner has come to accept that, too.”
Noting that Nimoy was also an original cast member of the
Finally, a familiar face came to the microphone to ask a question. It was Zachary Quinto. In his best impression of a shy fan, he asked, “Do you… um… could you… um… describe Spock in one word?”
To that, the audience laughed and the two actors took to the stage together for the first time since last year’s San Diego Comic-Con.
The two Spocks took a few more questions from the audience and expressed their mutual respect and admiration for each other.
“He’s a smart, talented young man and a good Spock for the future”, Nimoy said of Quinto.
However, the highlight of the afternoon came when a fan asked Nimoy if he would do the Vulcan hand sign. He was reluctant at first, but Quinto coaxed him into it by joining in. They were also convinced to recite together Spock’s famous line, “Live long and prosper,” at which time Nimoy handed a t-shirt to Quinto that read "#1 Vulcan" in a symbolic passing of the torch to the younger actor.
For more on the convention, see our Grand Slam: Sci-Fi Summit XVI Report here on ComicMix.