WonderCon '09 - J.J. Abrams' 'Star Trek' Panel

J.J. Abrams, director of the forthcoming Paramount Star Trek prequel, headed up an all-star panel featuring the film’s cast and producers today at this year's WonderCon.

He started things off by telling the audience that he was going to show them a brand-new trailer for the film that is scheduled to debut with the release of Watchmen on March 6th. He shared with the audience the importance of not recording the trailer and posting it online. He said that he had planned to give away a Bad Robot toy, based on the mascot of his production company of the same name, to anyone that turned in a fellow audience member that was recording the film. He decided not to because he felt he could easily be scammed.

The trailer heavily featured the character of James T. Kirk and his backstory. Most of the footage shown was previously unreleased, including many scenes of space battles and hand to hand fighting. All of the main cast members were featured as well.

After the trailer, Abrams brought out executive producer Bryan Burke, Roberto Orci, the films co-writer, Chris Pine, who plays Kirk, Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock, and Zoe Saldana, who plays Uhura.

Abrams had no plan for the panel, and left it to the crowd to decide what took place. He ultimately chose to go strait to audience questions.

The first fan asked Abrams how he intended to balance the film for the pre-existing fan community and the new fans he intended to bring to the franchise. Abrams responded that he was completely dedicated to giving the older fans what they wanted, and that he had included a huge amount of call-backs to the first series in the new film. Orci stated that long-time fans will be rewarded with the references included throughout the film to the older series, and new fans would have an opportunity to learn about the original series for the first time. Abrams reiterated that this movie was made for the fans first.

Quinto was asked how he got into the character of Spock, and he revealed that he had worked closely with Leonard Nimoy, the actor that portrayed the character in the original series, and he helped him quite a bit. Saldana said that she too worked with her character’s original star, Nichelle Nichols.

Abrams was jokingly asked if he used to drugs to help him create the concepts for his shows Lost and Fringe, to which he replied “Yes,” then “No, just Ambien.”

Another fan pointed out that Kevin Smith had seen and reviewed the movie well, and asked Abrams to comment on that. Abrams said the Smith was a good friend and a great talent and he was glad to have his input.

A friend of an extra that worked on the film said that she was told the Abrams rapped on the set, and asked him to perform for the crowd. Abrams said he didn’t but obliged by using his microphone to provide a beat, while Pine offered some impromptu rhymes. Abrams then asked any extras in the audience to stand up and be recognized, which they did.

The panel was asked again asked if they were daunted by taking on roles with a lot of history, to which Pine responded hat he was aware of the importance but he wanted to bring his own take to the character. Quinto jokingly said he was completely undaunted, but clarified that he was joking.

A few hearing-impaired audience members asked Abrams if he would include hearing-impaired actors in his next film, to which he said, “Done.”

The final question was about a possible sequel to Cloverfield. Abrams said he would never do one for business reasons, only for creative ones. He said he had a few ideas that he was actively pursuing.

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