J.J. Abrams recently participated in a podcast interview with Nerdist.com in which he covered a wide variety of topics, including Felicity, Alias, Lost, Super 8, his writing process, collaborating with Steven Spielberg and, of course, Star Trek (2009). Though he did not at all discuss the soon-to-shoot Star Trek sequel, he did comment on several matters of interest to fans, including the impact of the alternate timeline on the events of TOS. Below are some of his thoughts on Star Trek (2009):
Abrams: I was, frankly, never really a fan. I never really got it. I never really cared much about it. Most of my friends who loved it were, without question, smarter than I was. I kept trying... and I couldn’t get it. I didn’t care about it. It felt stilted. It is ironic because a lot of the tone and techniques and some of the writers as well were from The Twilight Zone. When you watch it, you’d go, ‘God, there is that same kind of melodramatic vibe.’ A lot of the writers were the same writers. You’d think someone who loved The Twilight Zone as much as I did would kind of find a kinship to that show and get on board. I couldn’t do it. I enjoyed the movies that I saw, the early films, but I never looked forward to them. So, when I was mixing Mission: Impossible III… I was asked if I was interested in producing a Star Trek movie. When I said yes, it was because… I’d never thought of it, ever… but what occurred to me as I was being asked was "There’s a version of it that I could see getting interested in." And it was weird, because I couldn’t tell you what it was. I just knew that if Star Trek were done in a certain way, with an approach that somehow let me in more… I was actually being given the opportunity to at least attempt to do something that I wished had existed for me as a kid trying to get into it, which is a way in, which is an emotional way in, that was not was not about the Enterprise or Starfleet or the Prime Directive or any of that stuff, that was completely emotional. I thought if that existed I probably would have found a way in. Now, maybe I saw the wrong episodes. Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind as a kid. I don’t know what it was. I have since watched a number of them and actually have actually come to really appreciate the show.
On why he ultimately elected to direct Star Trek (2009)…
Abrams: The reason I wanted to direct it was because I thought, "When in the world, ever, am I going to get a chance to do a space movie? That’s cool." And I really loved the script that Alex (Kurtzman) and Bob (Orci) wrote, and I thought, "There is a version of this movie that is sort of surprisingly intimate and emotional and about these two men who are kind of displaced and who are both orphans in a weird way and they find a family." And I thought, "That is kind of a cool story. It happens to be called Star Trek. It happens to be Kirk and Spock, but cool." Casting that movie was tough, but it was a crazy joy to find that amazing cast. So, the whole experience was sort of bizarre, in working on something that I never in a million years I thought I’d be associated with, doing it with people that I would have loved to have worked with in any capacity, and getting to do things, cliché things, that feel like as a kid filmmaker you want to do… spaceships flying, huge things crashing and planets exploding, stuff that you’d only dream of doing. So it ended up being, oddly, of all things, a dream project.
On the alternate timeline and its effect on TOS…
Abrams: Here’s the thing… I think the key to that was, first of all, it was one of those things that not everyone even cares about or understands the timeline of it all. The notion that when this one character, Nero, arrives in his ship, that basically the timeline is altered at that moment, so everything forward is essentially an alternative timeline. That is not to say that everything that happened in The Original Series doesn’t exist. I think, as a fan of movies and shows, if someone told me the beloved thing for me was gone, I would be upset. But we didn’t do that. We’re not saying that what happened in that original series wasn’t good, true, valid, righteous and real. Let people embrace that. We’re not rejecting that. That, to me, would have been the big mistake. We’re simply saying that, "At this moment, the very first scene in the first movie, everything that people knew of Star Trek splits off into now another timeline."
To hear the entire interview, click HERE.