Sunday, January 20, 2008

MIT Professor Gets Star Trek Cameo

From AICN comes the story of Carnegie Mellon University Professor Dr. Randy Pausch, a die hard Trekkie that got a dream fulfilled by getting a cameo in Star Trek XI thanks to J.J. Abrams.
The professor was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that has been spreading and decided to give one last lecture, "If you had one last lecture to give before you died, what would you tell your students?" This lecture, called "The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" (video at end of post) that he gave on September 18, 2007 appeared on the internet and gained enough attention that mass media began reporting on it.

During the speech, about the 20 minute mark, he discusses one of his dreams, "Meeting Captain Kirk", pointing out the toys (including a communicator he had) and how he got to meet William Shatner, who came and saw the virtual reality work he was doing. This love of Star Trek and his story was passed on to JJ Abrams, who offered him a part on Star Trek XI.

He talks about the Star Trek experience on his "update page":
This is, by far, the coolest thing (okay, #2 behind the palliative chemo working). JJ Abrams (Hollywood producer/director who did the TV series "Lost," the movie "Mission Impossible III" and a bunch of other stuff) emailed me, out of the blue:

Hi there -- I'm JJ Abrams, director of the new Star Trek movie.

I read about you and your condition, and ALSO your affinity for things Trek.

So, I just wanted to put the invitation out there -- that if you had any desire to be in the film (can't promise you role as CAPTAIN, but... we could do SOMETHING!), it would be my honor and pleasure.

The last thing I want to do is intrude, so feel free not to reply -- but I wanted to make sure you knew that, if you are willing and able, the door is wide open.

I hope that your treatments are going well and that we get to meet one day.


Naturally, I presumed this was one of my friends, playing a prank. But after a little sleuthing, it was clear it was for real. Jai & I hopped a plane to LA, where I got a custom-made Star Trek uniform and my own station on the bridge, where I had lots of buttons and controls. I even got a LINE!!!!

In addition to publicly thanking JJ Abrams, I just wanted to say what an incredibly egoless and cool guy he was. We chatted a little bit between takes, and he is so tech-savvy (and I'm not saying that *just* because he knew all about Alice!). Anyway, it was a truly magical experience. Speaking of Magic, I got to fulfill a long-standing wish of taking Jai to the Magic Castle on that trip, courtesy of Peter Farquar. MK Haley, who is herself quite magical, joined Peter and his wife and Jai & me for an incredible evening.

The "Star Trek" movie will be in theaters December 2008. Don't blink or you'll miss me, but at some point a guy walked across the bridge and says "Captain, we have visual!"

I'd *love* to show you my costume (which they let me keep), but I promised JJ Abrams "no photos". They're trying to keep things a secret; in fact, even on the Paramount lot, you have to walk around in a trenchcoat if you're in a Star Trek costume. It's kind of like being at a flasher's convention!

Oh, and if you think I'm making this up, here's a copy of my check from Paramount (they had to pay me due to some union rules or some such... I'll obviously be donating this to charity).”
Pausch's Last Lecture

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