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JJ Abrams Talks Star Trek, Alternate Timeline, Connection with Nick Meyer & More

Star Trek director J.J. Abrams was a guest on yesterday’s Nerdist podcast. During the interview, hosted by Chris Hardwick, Abrams discussed his love of sci-fi films, making LOST, plus plenty of Star Trek talk. Abrams discussed the prime vs. alternate timeline, making the 2009 Star Trek film and his childhood connection with “Wrath of Khan” director, Nick Meyer.

“I was never really a fan. I never really got it. Most of my friends who loved it were, without question, smarter than I was. I couldn’t get it. It felt stilted. It is ironic because a lot tone and techniques and some of the writers were from the Twilight Zone. When you watch it there is that same kind of melodramatic vibe.” said Abrams.

“I enjoyed the movies and the early films, but I never really 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, I had never thought of it, but what occurred to me was that there was a version of it that I could see getting interested in. I couldn’t tell you what it was, but I knew that if Star Trek were done in a certain way, with an approach that let me in more. I was being given the opportunity to attempt what I wished had existed as a kid trying to get into it, which is an emotional way in. It wasn’t about the Enterprise or Starfleet or the Prime Directive or any of that stuff, but was completely emotional. If that had existed, I would have probably found a way in. Maybe I had seen the wrong episodes, maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind as a kid. I have since watched them and actually have come to really appreciate the show.”

JJ Abrams Directing Star Trek (2009)
JJ Abrams directing Star Trek (2009)

Abrams went on to talk about why he wanted to direct Star Trek.

“The reason I wanted to direct [Star Trek], 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 loved the script that Alex [Kurtzman] and Bob [Orci] wrote. I thought ‘there is a version of this movie that is surprising intimate and emotional and about these two men who are displaced and kind of orphans in a way and they find a family.’ And I thought that is kind of a cool story. It happens to be called “Star Trek” and it happens to be Kirk and Spock, but it’s cool.” said Abrams.

“The whole experience was kind of bizarre – working on something that I never thought in a million years I would be working on and doing it with people I would love to work with in any capacity. Getting to things that as a kid filmmaker cliché you want to do – spaceships and planets exploding. Stuff you could only dream of doing. It became a dream project.” he added.

He discussed his connection with another Star Trek director, Nick Meyer.

“The weirdest thing was that as a kid my parents knew Nick Meyer, who directed the best one – “Wrath of Khan.” And at my bar mitzvah, Nick Meyer came and I remember he came over for dinner. I used to make radio shows as a kid and Nick came to my room and did the show with me and he was the sweetest guy and I still have the annotated Sherlock Holmes book he gave me as a kid. Years later he directed a Star Trek movie and so did I. It is strange to see that movie and have this kind of sense “oh god, that was that guy.” The connection to me for Star Trek was always through appreciating that my friends loved it and knowing someone who had been involved in it, but never thinking of being involved in it.”

JJ Abrams & the cast of Star Trek (2009)
JJ Abrams & the cast of Star Trek (2009)

Abrams went on to talk about the alternate timeline.

“The notion that when this one character arrived – Nero – 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 the movies and shows, if someone told me that as a beloved thing for me was gone, I would be upset. But we didn’t do that. We are not saying that what happened in that original series wasn’t good, true, valid, righteous and real. We are not rejecting that. That to me would have been a big mistake. We are simply saying that from this moment in the opening scene of the movie, that everything people knew of Star Trek splits off into another timeline.”

Listen to the entire interview on the Nerdist Podcast.

[Quote Source: TrekMovie]

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. John

    December 24, 2011 at 12:38 am

    I don’t understand other Trek fans who don’t like JJ’s movie its a brilliant action packed funny and for a summer popcorn film a great character driven movie. Quinto and Pine were great at portraying Spock and Kirk rather than just how Shatner & Nimoy played them. I wonder how many actors who audition for the parts Kirk in particular did that and just played on Shatner’s style of delivering lines as Kirk. Rather than play the character, either way Pine & Quinto nailed the heart of the roles. Then there’s the story which basically puts the whole thing existing in an alternate timeline so it doesn’t take away from the original or from what Nimoy and Shatner made great about these two legendary characters. Leaving the avid continuity obsessed fanboy with nothing to moan about in my opinion.

    For me it sits alongside Wrath of Khan as a fantastic Trek movie.

    That said I hope that JJ and the writers Do Not Do Khan for the next Star Trek, he’s been done very well in the original series episode and of course the Khan movie. in other words leave him alone and move on.

  2. ZipperS

    December 27, 2011 at 6:47 am

    LOVE Nerdist! Great podcast.

  3. Let Them Eat Plomeek Soup

    December 30, 2011 at 7:15 am

    I enjoyed Abrams’ movie because I am young and appreciate planets exploding and shooting aliens with lasers, and I also hadn’t even watched ten episodes of TOS when I saw the movie.  I suppose lots of fans who’ve been into the series for years and years find it a little disturbing when all of a sudden there’s this big, loud, shoot-em-up film which is supposed to be Star Trek (i.e. ST: Nemesis–which I liked, as well).  But I guess in the end it’s each to their own.

  4. kargandarr

    February 14, 2012 at 3:34 am

    I much prefer the original timeline and I have a solution. Build a copy of the ship that the elder Spock had with the red liquid included, go back in time to a point before Nero arrived, collapse the star to save Romulus and partially restore the original timeline. No the original timeline would not be restored to exactly what it had been in the beginning, but it would not be the alternate timeline either.

  5. kargandarr

    February 14, 2012 at 3:35 am

    Don’t get me wrong here, the new movie is a good movie in all rights.

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