Abrams Addresses Cumberbatch's Villain in 'Star Trek Into Darkness'
"Such a frightening and cool villain." Earlier this week, Paramount hosted a big press day for Star Trek Into Darkness, an event which I attended myself (my own write-up still coming) along with a number of other press. However, it was MTV's Josh Horowitz who was lucky enough to score an actual interview with J.J. Abrams on camera. Since everyone has been geeking out at the supposedly-hidden shot of the two hands in the Japanese teaser for Into Darkness, Horowitz straight up asked him about that shot - and that they're smart enough to put that in to mean something. Abrams' reply is vague, but interesting nonetheless.
At first, J.J. deflects the answer of what that shot means by explaining that Into Darkness "was not made for 'Star Trek' fans; it was made for movie fans. But if you're a 'Star Trek' fan, I think you'll be really happy, there's a lot of stuff in here for you, but we couldn't just make the movie only for fans of 'Star Trek.'" He also adds that "we tried to treat this as a movie that works on its own. Certainly it's a sequel, certainly if you saw the first movie, great. You don't have to have seen the first film. This movie is its own thing," but that's when he also confirms: "there are definitely nods to prior 'Trek' lore in the film." Of course there will be nods.
Horowitz followed up with a question about the name of Benedict Cumberbatch's villain character, John Harrison, being a "Space Seed" episode reference. His doesn't actually answer, but instead provides a few more hints about the power of the character, and essentially says stop speculating, just enjoy Cumberbatch.
"Rather than answer anything that would give away the fun of the movie, I would say that the character that Benedict plays, he brings such an incredible power to it. His voice alone, I actually as a joke should have had him read the lunch menu," Abrams said, deftly dodging the question with a laugh. "He makes anything sound great and brings such a force to it that hopefully when you see the movie, this character, all speculation aside, will be really compelling, not because of any connection to anything past, but because of who he is and what he brings to it."
Indeed. That's what I'm looking forward to seeing in Star Trek Into Darkness anyway. From the glimpses we've seen of Benedict Cumberbatch, and the hints and teases Abrams has given us (including a new photo and a brief appearance in the 9-minute IMAX prologue as well as the first teaser), it seems he might be an amalgamation of past characters, or at least covering himself up as something else, for a plot unique to this sequel. He's then asked if we know, upfront, who this Harrison guy is or if it is a mystery the whole movie:
"The whole thing, not just his backstory, but his agenda, his plan, his secret, all that is what, for me at least, makes him such a frightening and cool villain," Abrams said. "Also, the real villains — when they're not just two-dimensional, angry vengeful types — don't see themselves as the bad guy. They are the good guy and have complete rationale and motivation. So true to form, the character that Benedict plays has an absolute sense of right and wrong, and he's on the right side."
Now that is an interesting bit of character development. Especially considering the way the 9-minute IMAX prologue opens, with a scene in the hospital and the appearance of Benedict saying "I can save her." There's something going on there and I don't know if anyone will be able to figure it out before seeing the entire movie next May. For now we're going to have to hold out for any more crumbs to follow like these from Horowitz's interview, and others from the upcoming full trailer and additional interviews with J.J. Abrams this week. If you're interested in watching the full MTV interview segment, you can see the video right here:
Star Trek Into Darkness is the sequel to the J.J. Abrams-directed reboot of Gene Roddenberry's original science fiction series. The screenplay this time was co-written by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman & Damon Lindelof. Most of the crew is back, including Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin & John Cho. Paramount is bringing Into Darkness to theaters May 17th next summer.