JJ & company made a surprise appearance today at Wondercon to prove to the fans once and for all that he was the right person for this job & we won't be disappointed.
In almost an eerie fashion, Abrams & cast members Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto & Zoe Saldana consistently spouted out praise for the original Trek. They were eloquent, well spoken & seemed to have a real love & respect for the Trek that came before. That or Abrams had them memorize some brilliantly scripted answers to convince us of that fact. In multiple instances, Abrams referred to the team behind this new Trek as a mix between those who "live and breathe Trek" and those who are "idiots." The result, says Abrams, will work for fans & non-fans alike. Fans with a knowledge of Trek will be rewarded & non fans will see what inspired Abrams to make it in the first place, what made him realize he would be "jealous" if anyone other than him got the directing gig.
Here's JJ, explaining where he stands once and for all,
...if we were just to make the movie for fans of Star Trek we would be limiting the audience enormously. And the truth is, because we love this, because we are beholden to you, because the fans of Star Trek are what allow us to make a version of Star Trek at all, I can assure you that we making this movie for you. It goes without saying, although it is important that we say it. I have taken some flack for saying in the press "we are making this for future fans of Star Trek" as if we don’t care about the existing fans. That could not be farther from the truth. We love and are beholden to the existing fans of Star Trek and one of the ways we made sure this movie is going to make you happy is we had this great range of points of view with the producers, one of whom is Bryan, who had never seen an episode of Star Trek at all…then we have got Bob Orci who is an absolute avowed Trekker, so we have this great balance. So the answer to your question is that there are a million references and the story adheres to canon pretty much as well as The Original Series adheres to canon, the movie really does. I mean that. You all know, even with The Original Series, there are some contradictions. But the truth is: we love it. And as someone who was not a fan to begin with, I’ve come to appreciate and understand and actually feel jealous I didn’t get hooked earlier so I can understand how amazing the show was.
But it goes much beyond Abrams. When the actors were asked about what was most rewarding for them working on this project, Quinto responded "getting to know Leonard" and Saldana similarly replied "meeting the original cast members...to know how excited they were and how much they blessed this entire project." Chris Pine (who called Trekkies/Trekkers the "best fans in all of fandom") even showed a pretty good familiarity with TOS & a great respect for Shatner when answering a question about his favorite episodes. After doing an evil Kirk impression from The Enemy Within, Pine elaborated,
"That would be up there - the evil captain Kirk, the split Captain Kirk one. [Also the episode] where he fights Finnegan, [Shore Leave]. When [Kirk] wrestles the young boy, [in Charlie X], I think, I don't know if I would do that. I think what I found about watching the old series is, Mr. Shatner's incredibly funny. I think it's the same humor he brings to Boston Legal, in a whole different way. It's that twinkle in his eye, that you think anything can happen. It is that something I couldn't recreate for the life of me."
To avoid straight up doing a Nimoy impression, and to give himself room to bring his own interpretation to the role, Quinto didn't start watching TOS until after he was on set when he would keep episodes playing in his trailer. To prepare for the role, he mostly read about "the world and about character" and talked & worked with Nimoy.
The only things these guys seemed to love more than the original Trek were each other. Watching the panel, one definitely got the impression that this set was amazing to work on. Quinto described Abrams as a "magician" and "wizard" & Pine explained that their director was never a "dictator" on set, that they all became a family and hopefully that will translate to the fans & we'll accept the new version. Additionally, Quinto said he saw the movie Friday night and was blown away,
"I couldn't speak for like 20 minutes after and I'm not like that. It is such a ride. It is so exciting...it succeeds on a lot of levels."
For Pine, the best thing about the Trek experience was getting the "opportunity to meet people he now calls his friends." Awe.
Abrams even gave some love to the "greatest group of extras" who were "spectacular" and "tireless" and partook in an impromptu rap session, Abrams beatboxing, Pine MCing. Hilarity.
Some other tidbits - Abrams asked Kevin Smith to watch the film so early in the process because Smith is "painfully honest" and has a "wonderful point of view." As for the Cloverfield sequel? Abrams' got a "pretty sweet" idea, but wouldn't move forward unless they had the proper creative impetus,
It better not be a business decision. You better be inspired to do something. That way, you did it because you cared, not because you think you can make a buck.
Oh yeah, and we got to see the world premiere of the new Star Trek trailer, which, in all honesty...was pretty effing awesome. I stand by what I thought when I saw those four scenes a couple of months ago - this movie is going to rock.
Good work appearing at Wondercon, JJ. You've redeemed yourself in my eyes and hopefully in the eyes of uneasy fans everywhere.
For more photos from the panel, click here.