Recently at MTV News, we’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time talking about J.J. Abrams’ revamped “Star Trek”: the stellar performances from the new cast, the tweaking of “Trek” mythology , where the reinvigorated franchise will go from here. Inevitably, during these intensely nerdy, often argumentative conversations, the name “Khan” arises with a guttural moan in someone’s feeble attempt to replicate the epic howl of William Shatner’s James T. Kirk.
Earlier this week, we took to the Movies Blog to offer our thoughts on who might one day be able to take over the role of the superhuman villain from Ricardo Montalbán, whose portrayal in 1982’s “The Wrath of Khan” is treated with religious veneration in the Trekker community. Among our picks were Tom Cruise, Javier Bardem, Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie. Still not satisfied and unable to quit our fanboy speculation, we asked filmmaker Kevin Smith what he thought about recasting Khan in a “Trek” sequel.
“It would have to be someone who can chew the scenery and [who] did a car commercial at one point in their career,” he said, referring to the ’70s era Chrysler Cordoba ad in which Montalbán appeared.
We suggested Joe Isuzu, otherwise known as David Leisure from the late ’80s sitcom “Empty Nest.”
That proposal got Smith thinking about the way other franchises have handled the task of reintroducing iconic characters with different actors. “Maybe they have to go another way with it,” he said. “With [Jack] Nicholson’s Joker, you had the scenery-chewing, over-the-top, wonderful Joker performance. And then Heath Ledger gives this 180-degree, creepy but wonderful Joker performance, so maybe they need to go that route. Like, if Ricardo Montalbán’s Khan is always beloved because it’s so over-the-top and operatic, maybe you get somebody who’s a little more coiled-spring.”
Just as important as who could play the new Khan, Smith told us, will be the power of the new Kirk, Chris Pine, to pull off Shatner’s memorable line about his enemy.
“It’s really going to come down to if Pine can sell, ’Khaaaaan!’ ” said Smith. “And I’m sure he will be able to.”
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Check out everything we’ve got on “Star Trek.”
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