The fan-favorite director discusses his hit film, the inevitable sequel and a few of his other upcoming projects
J.J. Abrams is one of the most successful entertainers in all of Hollywood. He has produced, written and directed some of the most popular TV shows and movies of the last ten years. From television programs like Lost, Alias and Fringe to films like Mission: Impossible III and last summer's hugely successful Star Trek, Abrams seems like he can do no wrong in the eyes of fans. The busy director appeared at a red carpet event the Monday night at the famed Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles to honor the release of Star Trek, now on DVD and Blu-ray. Abrams was kind enough to take a few moments to speak with us before he went in to enjoy the event.
The first thing on everyone's mind is with such a busy schedule will Abrams even be available to direct a Star Trek sequel. "In theory I would be available and it would be fun to do," he said. The director went on to explain that while he most likely will be available to direct a sequel he hasn't made that decision yet and is hoping to direct another film first but whether that would be Mission: Impossible IV or not he did not say. Another thing every fan is dying to know is if Khan or any other characters from the original series would be incorporated into the new re-imagined franchise? "We're not even at that stage yet. But the fun of where we are on the sequel is we could use some of what was done before in a new way. But we haven't even figured out what we would use yet so it's very early on," said Abrams.
"I think that the challenge, the advantage and the opportunity of this world is just how unlimited it is in terms of what we can do," continued Abrams. "Having said that, I think the first movie was very much just about the characters meeting, so you can only go so far in terms of the depth of experience and it's all pretty urgent. Now that they've gotten to be together for a period of time, whether it be a day, weeks, months, or years, that next chapter feels sort of like there are some roots that have grown. So it won't be meeting new people as you go it will be going on this adventure with this pre-established family. So that just means a different set of challenges. So I'm very excited to play that out," he concluded
One aspect of the film that surprised new and old fans alike was the love triangle between Kirk, Spock and Uhura, something that had never been explored before in any of the previous films or TV series. "I think it was that Kirk was so clearly the romantic lead and the fun of it was to play with the expectations of where it was going to go," said Abrams. "I think now that we've done that you can't play that same joke again so it's got to be about what is their relationship and who are these people? That's why I think the next one, hopefully while still having the sense of fun and adventure, can go a little deeper in terms of the story," he added regarding the love triangle appearing in future films.
Another fan-favorite moment from the film took place when Kirk finally assumed command of the Enterprise. All of the main characters are on the bridge discussing with Kirk how to attack Nero and rescue Captain Pike. Spock finally enters the bridge and you have all of the main characters on the bridge, in costume, together for the first time looking eerily like the original cast. It was a moment that gave goose bumps to any old-school fan. Here is what Abrams liked about that scene. "Well what I liked about it was that you had all these people together but honestly it was a weird thing to stage because it was all of them and you don't want it to seem too much like the poster," he explained. "But what I liked about it was that when Spock walks in, Uhura walks up to camera and it's just this little thing I love that she is like appreciating that her man has come to be there when they needed him and the look on her face was great. It was a great moment what Zoë (Saldana) did."
Abrams went on to discuss what he remembers about shooting the scene that day. "It was the one time that I got angry at the cast because we were late, we were running out of time and they were goofing off and all of them where together," he said. "Simon (Pegg) was being funny, Karl (Urban) was ridiculous, John (Cho) is hysterical and Chris (Pine) was just standing there and I was like, 'When you guys are done let me know,' and I stormed off the set. Two seconds later they were like, 'Okay we're done,' and then we got it. It was an amazing moment."
Greg Grunberg from Heroes who also starred on Abrams' long running series Alias and played the pilot on Lost was supposed to appear in Star Trek as the doomed red-shirted Olson but had to dropout due to a scheduling conflict. However the actor was able to lend his voice to the film as the heard but not seen alcoholic stepfather of young Kirk. Abrams discussed if there were plans to have Grunberg appear in front of the camera in the sequel. "I would like to except for his acting," joked the director. "No I'm kidding. He is the greatest. Greg is my best friend. Having Greg in the movie would be great. I don't know how we can't. We have to. He's got to do something. I tried to get him in the movie originally and he wasn't available but having Greg as a red shirt would be my favorite thing in the world actually."
Finally, besides a Star Trek sequel Abrams is rumored to be working on a film based on the popular '70s toys Micronauts. Although he was very tightlipped about the possible toy-line adaptation he did mention his upcoming new spy-series, Undercovers, and how it will be different than Alias. "I think the fun of this new show is that there is lighter and comedic in terms of a sweeter approach. It's not an out and out comedy necessarily but it's combining a genre that I love with an attitude and a tone that I haven't seen before. So that will be at least a fun experiment."