As crewmembers aboard the USS Enterprise, Captain Kirk and his fleet were charged with boldly going where no man had gone before. But the greatest advantage for the actors who are reinventing the characters in J.J. Abrams' upcoming "Star Trek" reboot is that others have already been there, insisted Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock.
"What we create is something that will be among us — it won't be something that pits one person against another, [but] the actors from the original are available if you want to engage them," he said of the bridge between the original and new casts. "I have the advantage of having Leonard [Nimoy] being a part of the movie and not just supportive of it, but all of the other actors [will] make themselves available if this generation wants that."
That includes George Takei, who played Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu in the original television series and had nothing but words of support to share with John Cho and the rest of the new cast.
"John's a very good actor. He's always excellent, so Sulu is in good hands with John," Takei said. "Zachary Quinto's work is the only [other] actor's work I'm familiar with, and I think he would be wonderful as Spock. First of all, there's that uncanny resemblance. I told Zach, all you have to do is look at Leonard Nimoy and you'll know what you'll look like in 40 years. It looks like a very promising new cast of characters."
Because he's known mostly for his comedy work in the "Harold & Kumar" and "American Pie" films, Cho's participation initially raised some eyebrows among hard-core fans. The casting of funnyman Simon Pegg, which was announced the same day, as chief engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott was met with the same reaction. For his part, Quinto thinks both casting decisions were "genius."
"Simon Pegg in the movie — that's unreal!" the 30-year-old actor enthused. "Scotty is a lighter character anyway, in terms of his perspective on things. Come on, [Pegg's] a comic genius. I feel like I couldn't be in better company."
Pegg's casting is a reinvention that pays homage to the old while introducing the new, said Quinto. That balance is of primary importance, added Takei. "When we came on the air in the 1960s, we had this astounding new device that we wore on our hip, flipped open and started talking into. At that time, there was that 'oh wow' quality," Takei recalled. "Now it's a very real nuisance in our society. So how do we capture that 'oh wow' quality in the new 'Star Trek' movie, take that cell phone and give it that same kind of excitement? It's a daunting challenge."
How will they do it? Beyond the fact that the story will take place when the characters are young, little is known about the plot of the new film. But that alone is quite enough to go on, Quinto said with a mixture of excitement and nervousness in his voice.
"I was talking to Leonard about this. I think there's a distinction you need to make as an actor that you're clear when and where you drop into that character," he said. "[Spock] evolved over a long period of time, so to pick that up and establish it at a time before you knew those characters is exciting. It allows me to discover some of the origins of these things."
But while Quinto wouldn't give up the goose on Spock's origins, he did let slip a potential ending — for the first film anyway. Asked what he thought about recently cast villain Eric Bana, Quinto teased us with an ultimate geek showdown.
"[Bana is] more of an accomplished actor than us. He's been around longer, he's done a lot of big movies. He's the Hulk!" Quinto said. "So, you know, maybe you'll see a little Spock/Hulk showdown!"
But that's nothing, Quinto grinned, compared to the elation he felt the first time he got into wardrobe.
"[Putting on the ears] was the moment when it all sort of concretized for me. It became no longer theoretical but something that I was really connected to in a different way," he said, smiling broadly.
But for all the talk about the bridge between casts, we had to know about the actual bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Has it been built?
"I've seen drawings of [the rebuilt bridge], and the drawings alone gave me chills," Quinto said. "I think it's going to be a pretty remarkable experience."
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