Minor spoilers ahead…
“J.J. [Abrams] is keen on having as much stuff around you physically as is possible, and using CG as little as possible. “It makes it easier for an actor, certainly, to look up and see things, instead of green felt cloth.”
One of the cool sequences in the film involves Kirk and Scotty running down a corridor aboard the Enterprise as the artificial gravity is failing, so at one point they’re running along the wall instead of the floor. This corridor set was too big to put on a gimble, so the entire set could be tilted like what you’ve seen in Inception and similar movies. So instead, Pegg and Chris Pine are “on a wire, running along on our sides, which is very hard to do,” says Pegg. “But it enabled us to have that sensation, but do it on a much bigger scale.”
That commitment to avoiding greenscreen also includes building huge sets., “The set they had now was the biggest ever rendering of the Starship Enterprise in the history of the Star Trek story. They had a bridge that was connected to a corridor that went through to the medbay, engineering and the transporter room, so you could do long walking and talking scenes, and get a sense of the ship’s size.”
They also built a big piece of the Klingon homeworld, Kronos, at Sony. And the red forest from the opening sequence is a gigantic set, which they built in West L.A.
And meanwhile, there’s a huge sequence on another starship, which they filmed in an enormous hangar. Pegg had to run the length of that hangar three times, “and then he puked.”
Filming at NIF
And one of those huge sets is actually the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, home of the world’s biggest laser. Filming at NIF had to be extraordinary, Also, aesthetically speaking it formed a brilliant bridge between all the clean lines and that fantastically futuristic bridge, to the industrial metal of the engine room — which is what J.J. Abrams always wanted to look like, the guts of the Titanic. But in the middle of this, you’ve got the warp core which is this perfect mish-mash of the two. You’ve got all this steel, and yet it’s very modern-looking.”
The dirty-looking guts of the Enterprise are sort of borrowed from Abrams’ love of Star Wars, with its more shopworn aesthetic I say…….
Pegg has his own theory about how Abrams’ Star Trek fits into the original show’s continuity: “I had this idea. I think the we might all be the mirror [universe] crew.” Perhaps in the third movie, we’ll see that “something’s going to go to shit, we’re all going to turn bad, Spock’s going to grow a beard, and we’re going to meet ourselves. That could happen.”
Pegg and Cho said it was weird to be back with the same cast, in the same costumes on the same sets, after four years away. But on the very first day back, they shot a scene where everybody was on the bridge together — it’s a scene that didn’t actually make it into the final film, but it was nice to be shooting it all together on the first day.
In that scene, Kirk is back on the bridge after the opening sequence on the planet Nibiru. And he’s writing his Captain’s Log, completely falsifying the events of the mission and covering up his breach of the Prime Directive, as the crew watches. In the end, this scene wasn’t needed, because we find out about Kirk’s false log a different way. But it was still nice to film it, said Pegg, because it felt as though those four years between films hadn’t happened.
In the new movie, Sulu gets to sit in the command chair at one point — and we were wondering if Cho wants his character to follow the trajectory the original Sulu went on, eventually commanding his own ship. “I am certainly hoping so,” said Cho. “That would be amazing. Don’t you think? I dug it. I dug the chair, and I’d like another one.”
In the new movie, Scotty spends more time with Keenser, his alien sidekick played by genre veteran Deep Roy. Originally, in the first movie, says Pegg, Keenser is just Scotty’s companion on Delta Vega, and a couple of weeks after that sequence was finished he and Abrams were talking about how sad it was that Keenser had been left behind on “that fucking snowball,” and how they needed to see more of an arc for Keenser and “make sure he’s okay.” So Abrams called costume designer Michael Kaplan, and asked for a tiny Starfleet uniform.
Pegg enjoys the rapport that Scotty and Keenser have, including their weird little shorthand. Keenser barely speaks, but he’s “a character part for Scotty to bounce ideas off,” and it’s Keenser’s “silent judgment that forces Scotty to do the right thing.”
Pegg really likes personalizing the random aliens in the film — in one sequence, he’s beamed into a prison cell, and he’s banging on the window to be let out, trying to attract the attention of an alien female working on a console nearby. And in one take, Pegg yells, “Hey, Janet,” that being the alien woman’s name. (He’s not sure if that take made it into the film or not.)
Abrams gained strength from non-fandom
Not being a fan of Star Trek allowed Abrams to relax and take more chances with the material,: He had the benefit of not feeling like he had to be slavish to the source material, but becoming a fan as he made it — now of course, he’s a huge fan. But it’s more Damon [Lindelof] and Alex [Kurtzman] and Bob [Orci] who were the aficionados — the writers. So it’ll be interesting to see how he approaches Star Wars, because he is a fan of Star Wars. SO I SAY TO ALL THE DRIVE IN AND STAR TREK FANS, LETS TRAVEL TO WHERE MAN HAS NEVER HAS GONE BEFORE………..
[youtube width=”820″ height=”461″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hq7iRPtmjwI[/youtube]