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February 27, 2009

J.J. Abrams was at the CGV multiplex in Apgujeong-dong in southern Seoul yesterday with stars Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana to present exclusive footage from his upcoming summer release “Star Trek: The Beginning.”

The acclaimed writer, director and producer of TV shows “Lost” and “Alias” the movie “Mission Impossible 3” said the new version of the film – set for its world premier on May 7 – was a re-imagining of the original television series.

“We made this film not for Trekkies but for future fans of Star Trek,” Abrams said.

“The studio wanted to give the film a fresh start and I was originally brought in as a producer, but upon reading the script, I saw so much potential and possibility that the original had failed to realize due to technological constraints so I got very greedy and I decided to direct it myself.”

The new version of the film, as the title indicates, is a prelude to rest of the Star Trek series. The four five minute clips gave a glimpse into the origin of Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise – icons of the television series that spawned legions of fans known as “Trekkies.”

Chris Pine plays the younger version of Kirk – an aimless drunkard who is inadvertently thrust into the world of galactic warfare as a new recruit on the USS Enterprise.

For Chris Pine, reinventing the character that William Shatner had made so famous, posed a great challenge.

“I began watching the original series pretty feverishly cause I knew I only had a limited amount of time to prepare for the role and after getting half way through the first and second season I wasn’t doing myself any favors by trying to pick up on the mannerisms of William Shatner and the minutiae of the Star Trek world,” said Pine.

“I would have created a character that was more impersonation than an original incarnation. JJ’s prescription for realizing the role and this goes for all of us- was to create our own and not worry too much about obeying the laws of the original Star Trek world.”

Asked whether he had consulted with Shatner about his role in the new film, the actor said, “I wrote Bill when I first got the role and introduced myself and told him who I was and by way of apology told him I wasn’t trying to usurp his status because he is the ‘O.G.’ Captain James Kirk. I was just simply taking over the mantle of the character and was doing my part to expand on the original.”

Pleasing those who grew up being loyal fans of the original television series will be a whole new challenge for the filmmakers.

“I was at the movie theater a few months, waiting in line to get popcorn and this guy behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked, ‘you’re playing the new Kirk aren’t you? And I said ‘yes, yes I am.’ We shook hands and he looked at me up and down and said, ‘yeah I think you’ll be all right’ which gives you some idea of the sense of ownership that these fans have over the series.” said Pine.

Zoe Saldana, hot property in Hollywood after a string of lauded performances, fell in love with the character of Uhura, the only female crew-member of the USS Enterprise.

“I do have a gravitational pull towards characters that are strong. I think there are similarities between Uhura and myself,” said Saldana.

“It is conceivable to believe that some of you leaks into the roles actors play and I certainly hope that the things that did manage to leak in … complimented my interpretation of my character in the film – the way she’s able to command herself with so much discipline and strength in a setting that’s mainly masculine and still hold court and fulfill her job in an androgynous manner – I love women that are like that.”

As with most remakes of material from the past, the question of whether to stay true to the original costumes and visual aesthetics was something that particularly concerned the new Captain Kirk.

“My first question to J.J. was: Are we going to be wearing spandex?” Pine joked.

“That’s what I cared about most – trying to not look stupid, but in the end it turned out all right.”

“Star Trek: The Beginning” is set for Korea release on May 7.


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