Friday, January 16, 2009

Orci and Kurtzman On Trek Origin

In an interview with, Star Trek writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman talked Star Trek and specifically the origin of the project. Below are snippets, the full interview can be found here.
...let's start with Star Trek — how did you guys first get attached to that?
Orci: I think Alex first got a call from one of the Paramount executives who happened to be a friend of yours, right?
Kurtzman: Yep.
Orci: He mentioned "Hey, Star Trek might be something that Paramount's interested in doing? Do you guys have any interest?" And that was the first we heard of it, about three years ago maybe.
Kurtzman: I think, maybe, we were in the middle of writing Transformers or something. It came to us and I knew– when I first met Bob, he had an Enterprise phone. He was a die-hard. So I knew the minute it was brought up, I couldn't not talk to Bob about it so I said "Bob, is this something you could imagine us doing?" We resisted it for a long time not because we didn't want to do it but because it really felt like enormous responsibility to take on. That's not something you go into lightly. You have to really have a reason to do it. We didn't want to just do Star Trek 11.
Orci: In discussing it, when we found out that we actually really did have an idea of what we wanted to do, that's when we started to get serious about it, sort of "Yes, we'd be interested."

In relation to Star Trek, whose idea was it for the story to take place as a prequel?
Orci: We came to that independently. Certainly that was Alex and my instinct. The first time we ever heard what Paramount wanted it was the same. I'm not sure if they got it from us or we all arrived at that conclusion simultaneously.
Kurtzman: The other thing was that in looking at Trek in its glorious history, it just shocked us that the story of how the bridge crew came together was never told. It was referenced in bits and pieces but it was never told and it's only kind of the most epic big bang story that you could possibly tell in Star Trek. So it felt to us like if we were going to bring something new to the table, that that was the place to start. It just always started with Kirk and Spock for us. It was always about Kirk and Spock.
Orci: And even though I loved "The Next Generation," one of the reasons we felt that Star Trek possibly had passed us by is we never imagined that anyone would want to go back and take on the original Star Trek again. We thought no one would ever go for that and we were not interested in doing sort of the next- next- next- next- next generation. The idea of doing a new crew had already become an old idea and the new idea really was going back to the original crew.

How has it been working with J.J. Abrams? Is he the best guy to work with in terms of making sure the script gets translated to the screen the way you guys wrote it? How much actual interaction did you have with him?
Orci: Absolutely. We were so lucky to get him to direct this movie. I'm sure you've been doing your own research about him and know that he only thought he was going to produce it. But it was always our secret goal, me, Alex and Damon Lindelof, to really persuade him to do this and persuade someone of his talent and of his caliber to give Star Trek the attention it deserves from a director like him. So we definitely tried to keep him involved but also tried to surprise him a little bit so that he'd have a reaction to it as well. We pitched him the story and as we'd go through writing it, we'd check in every 30 pages, we'd come in and tell him what we're going to write next and let him get kind of excited about it and just kind of kept him in the process throughout, hoping that he would fall in love with what we were all doing. God bless it, it worked.
Kurtzman: I think as a writer all you can hope for is that you will end up working with a director who will translate with the highest possible fidelity whatever you've written on the page to the screen. And having done 20 trillion episodes of "Alias" and then having just finished Mission: Impossible 3, which we all wrote together, there's a shorthand we have with each other. And I think JJ felt appropriately that Trek, if we were going to take the approach, needed a new set of eyes and a new perspective directorially, that it needed to be a little bit more rock 'n roll than previously figured and just bigger. We knew that at all costs, we needed to get him to do it. It was a long and slow process but ultimately, I think when the script was finished, he settled down quickly and we were thrilled.

...was the decision to move the release from Christmas to May made after the first teaser had been put out? Was it based on interest in the film and confidence that it could be a strong May release? Or was that decision made for other reasons?
Orci: It was after the first teaser, otherwise we wouldn't have released it that early. Yes, it was because they actually felt it could actually be a summer movie as opposed to, I guess, a Christmas movie.
Kurtzman: It was also just the reality of the massive, massive amounts of special effects in the movie. We're still in the process of going through them. So the idea that we would've actually released the movie three weeks ago, given what we're still in the middle of right now, seems impossible.

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