EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Karl Urban Talks Star Trek and Almost Human
By StarTrek.com Staff - November 16, 2013
Karl Urban is back in action. The actor, Star Trek’s current Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, stars in Almost Human, a sci-fi series that Fox will kick off on November 17 and 18 with a two-night premiere. The show – executive produced by J.J. Abrams -- casts him as John Kennex, a cop who’s just awakened from a 17-month-long coma and is partnered with an android, Dorian, programmed with something resembling human feelings. StarTrek.com recently caught up with the easygoing Urban for an interview in which he talked about Star Trek, Almost Human and more.
How good a time are you having on the Star Trek movies?
URBAN: I’m having a blast. As I’ve said before, the challenge when you’re working on Star Trek is to stop laughing before the cameras start rolling. It’s such a funny, intelligent, exciting group of people to work with, and I’m really looking forward to getting back to Star Trek and continuing the adventure.
What do you want to see for Bones next film?
URBAN: Funnily enough, it’s simple things I want to see. I’d like to beam somewhere. I’d like to beam somewhere and see that evolution of the Kirk-Spock-Bones triumvirate. I’d like to see Bones take on some of the bits that DeForest Kelley was able to execute so wonderfully well for 40-odd years.
Some fans loved Star Trek Into Darkness and others felt it should not have had the Khan elements. To your thinking, what worked and what didn’t?
URBAN: For me, I guess what really worked was the character development. I feel like if the first movie was establishing these characters, this one was about throwing them in the deep end. I really enjoyed seeing the beginnings of that triumvirate between Bones, Spock and Kirk, which was so central to the original show. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing where that goes. I honestly have to say that there wasn’t anything about Into Darkness that didn’t work for me. I thought that the writers did a fantastic job. Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof… when you’re given such rich dialogue to work with, it just makes my life so enjoyable.
You did publicly state that, for the next film, you think they should break away and do something completely original…
URBAN: I certainly, when I made that comment, in no way, shape or form meant to be disrespectful to Into Darkness or anything that we’d done. I was just expressing, I guess, my desire to “Let’s begin this five-year mission. Let’s go into and explore space and find something different.” We’ve done the Khan story in this alternate universe, and now won’t it be fun to go out there and really explore those themes that made The Original Series so successful in the first place. Fundamentally, it was about discovery and space exploration and all those sorts of things. I guess the challenge is to find a story that fits into that timeframe of them at the beginning of their five years in space and that incorporates all those wonderful things that Roddenberry based his Wagon Train to the stars show on.
Almost Human is your latest project. What elements of the script did you find most compelling?
URBAN: Firstly, I think, it was the relationship between my character, who is somewhat of a technophobe, throwback-style detective, John Kennex, and Dorian (Michael Ealy), this delightful, inquisitive, albeit irritating-at-times android. For me, that’s really the heart of the show. I really responded to the way that these two characters, who are thrown together, learn to work together and learn what it means to truly be human. They learn that from each other. It’s a relationship that is rich and full of growth and learning and comedy, and it’s fun.
The pilot introduces Kennex and Dorian, the world they’re in and the other characters around them. Post-pilot, what kinds of stories will we see?
URBAN: To a certain extent, it’s a case of the week, but this show is like nothing else you’ve seen on television before. It’s our intention to push the boundaries and to make this fun. The show is set just a little bit in the future, so while it’s not heavy-heavy science-fiction, it is sort of futuristic, and that adds a real wonderful texture and flavor. As far as the case that you saw in the pilot, we’re going to revisit elements of that at a later date, but that is not what we’re hanging our show on. This show is primarily about the relationship between this odd couple. It’s about watching them working together. It’s about fun. It’s about action. And it’s about heart and comedy. This show is actually a lot funnier and more action-oriented than what you see in the pilot. I can’t wait for the audience to see the second episode, where we get into the sexbots and a whole lot of other fun territory.
Give us a sense of Kennex’s relationships with the other characters. There’s his boss (Lili Taylor), as well as other detectives (Minka Kelly) and the tech guy (Mackenzie Cook)…
URBAN: My relationship with Lili’s character is close. We have a relationship that’s based upon a history of working together. We trust each other. Out of all the characters, I think both of us have the ability to call out the other character if that needs to happen. In other words, if one of us is out of line, I call her on it or she’ll call me on it. It’s a relationship that’s as centered in friendship as it is in the work. My relationship with Minka’s character is an interesting one. There’s obviously a great chemistry there and it’ll be interesting to see that explored. Mackenzie Cook is so funny in this. He just cracks me up. I love working with him. His character is really the professor of our show, a surrogate father to Dorian, and he provides a lot of comedy.
How prepared are you for a long run on Almost Human? If it’s a hit, you’re talking about four, five, maybe even six years…
URBAN: Well, you know, I signed on for it, and I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t believe in it in the first place. Again, I just have to nod my hat to the likes of J.J. and his team. They did such an incredible job on shows like Alias and Lost, and I think this show has extraordinary potential. If it goes for five seasons, great. If it goes for three, great. Whatever the run is I will be happy with it because, on a daily basis, I’ll get to go in, work with fantastic people and deliver a product that we’re all proud of.
We saw you at Creation Entertainment’s Official Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas this past summer. What was that like for you?
URBAN: Look, I always enjoy the opportunity to meet the fans. When you do theater, you get an instant idea of whether your performance is appreciated. You get that instant feedback. When you do films or shows, it’s not until you run into fans on the street or meet them at a convention that you get that kind of feedback. So doing that convention was a wonderful opportunity to connect with the fans and to say, “Hey, thanks for your support and stay tuned because there’s more coming and we’re going to have a lot of fun.”
How disappointed are you that J.J. Abrams will not be back behind the camera for the next Star Trek feature?
URBAN: J.J. is such a phenomenal talent and I’d just love nothing more for him to be helming Star Trek III. Obviously, it’s looking like his schedule is going to prohibit that. Firstly, I can’t wait to see what he does with Star Wars. I think he’s the right man for the job. I think he’s going to knock it out of the park. He’s one of the most talented writer-producer-directors I’ve ever worked with, hands-down, and I’ve worked with some goodies. That being the case, if he won’t be directing Star Trek III, I’m looking forward to and I welcome a fresh take and some new energy. I also have a great deal of confidence in the fact that J.J. and Bad Robot are going to be producing the next one. So it’s not as if his involvement is completely off the table. I take a lot of comfort in that fact.
You’ve got a film, The Loss, on the horizon, and Dredd fans seem to want a second installment. What’s the latest on those projects?
URBAN: The Loss is in the can, but I don’t know too much about (what’s happening with it) except that it’ll be out next year. Dredd 2…, I’d love nothing more than to make another Dredd movie. It’s amazing to me how many times I get people asking me for another Dredd movie. I’m so proud of that first film and that it’s finally found an audience. So, we’ll wait and see. I’m sure if the economics of a Dredd 2 add up for someone, then somebody is going to want to press the button and make it. It certainly seems to me, from where I’m standing, that there’s an audience for it.
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