‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Interview: Karl Urban on Secrecy, ‘Dredd 2′ & ‘Star Trek 3′

Published 2 years ago by , Updated February 16th, 2014 at 9:24 am,

Star Trek Into Darkness Interview Karl Urban McCoy Star Trek Into Darkness Interview: Karl Urban on Secrecy, Dredd 2 & Star Trek 3

Much like Iron Man 3, one of our other most anticipated films of the year in Star Trek Into Darkness opened a full week earlier overseas, but the buried-in-secrecy J.J. Abrams sequel finally opens in North America tomorrow and fans won’t have to dodge spoilers for much longer.

While long-time fans may debate some of the changes made for the 2009 series reset and its followup, one element that remains consistent and shockingly close to the original series is that of Dr. “Bones” McCoy, played by Karl Urban.

Our own Amy Nicholson had a chance to chat with Karl Urban over the phone while he and the cast were promoting Star Trek Into Darkness in London. He first talks about talks about being a fan of the original series and aiming to honor its story, its canon, and performance of the first Dr. McCoy, DeForest Kelley.

karl urban star trek 2 interview Star Trek Into Darkness Interview: Karl Urban on Secrecy, Dredd 2 & Star Trek 3

I heard that while shooting the first Star Trek, you were the only actor who complained that the way you were wearing your boots was inaccurate. Is that true?

There was a discussion. From my memory, tucking the pants into the boots was the way the cast wore them in the original series. So yes, a discussion was had about that. But Michael Kaplan, the costume designer, had a new take on it and we all pretty quickly realized we should listen to what he had to say, and he was totally right. So we went in a different direction with the boots, and I think that was kind of emblematic of what we were all collectively there to do: bring a new energy to Star Trek.

That story implies that you’re not a casual Star Trek fan—you’re pretty serious. Are you the guy on set keeping an eye out for what the hardcore fans want?

Myself and Simon Pegg are probably the ones who are most familiar with the series. Now, I wouldn’t define myself as a Trekker or Trekkie, but I do have a long-standing deep appreciation and affection for the original series and the original actors who portrayed these characters. Certainly, by virtue of the fact that that is the case, I definitely am aware of where we are in line with canon. And then we depart and do our own thing.

Were you aware as a kid how much you looked like DeForest Kelley? It’s pretty uncanny.

 The thought never really crossed my mind. But I just loved watching the show when I was a kid, and I enjoyed those characters, I enjoyed the conflict between Spock and Bones, and the the charisma and action of Kirk, and it was a sexy show—I liked the fact that it was a sexy show.

The next question reveals a minor spoiler for Star Trek Into Darkness that only Star Trek fans will fully understand. If you’ve yet to see Into Darkness, a little something will be revealed. Skip ahead past the spoiler tags if you wish to avoid. You’ve been warned.








So how excited were you to touch a Tribble?

 That was a lot of fun, actually! Without giving anything away, in that scene with a live Tribble, J.J. is actually the one operating the mechanism. Not only was he directing the scene, he was animating the Tribble at the same time.

What if Tribbles were contagious and J.J. started multiplying?

 That’d be scary. I don’t think the world is big enough for more than one.









2016 is the 50th anniversary of Star Trek

 That’s right! That’s right!

Next, Urban reiterates that J.J. Abrams will certainly be involved in Star Trek 3 (and beyond), even if he’s not directing due to his other duties on Star Wars. One thing fans can expect from this is that there will always be a sense of secrecy and mystery around future Trek movies with Abrams’ involvement, something that will differentiate it from Disney’s much more open and less-secret plans for Star Wars Episode VII.

star trek into darkness jj abrams official 570x378 Star Trek Into Darkness Interview: Karl Urban on Secrecy, Dredd 2 & Star Trek 3

And it seems fitting to release another movie that year. But J.J. is probably going to be busy with Star Wars, so who else do you think would be a good director for the franchise?

I really haven’t even thought about the next film. But I do know that Star Trek on a forward-going basis will always have J.J.’s involvement, whether he’s directing it or producing it. I feel supremely confident that he’s not going to leave it. I think you only have to look at the success of the last Mission: Impossible—you can definitely feel J.J.’s influence throughout the film, even though he didn’t direct it.

Seriously, why so much secrecy about Into Darkness‘ villain?

Well, here’s the thing about the secrecy—and I totally respect not giving away information. In this day and age, it is so easy for an audience to know so much about a film before it’s in the theater, and I think J.J. is very aware of that and he wants to preserve the cinema-going experience for when you’re actually in the cinema. I totally respect that. And when I sit in the theater and there’s a bunch of reveals that if you’re a long-term fan of Trek that you will get, it’s just wonderful to hear the audience’s reaction when it plays out.

This next bit refers to last summer when Karl Urban threw us for a spin at Comic-Con with some intentional misdirection. Whether or not this was Abrams’ idea or his own – as a diehead fan sharing Abrams’ ideals – we don’t know.

Okay, but last summer you accidentally-on-purpose revealed the name of the villain, who turns out not to be the villain after all. Tell me the truth: was that a deliberate fake-out?

 [Laughs] Well, I think my quote was taken very literally when I was actually speaking in archetypes. I was using that name as an example.


 Oh, I’ll be honest—I was messing with you.

The last we heard on Dredd – a film we loved but that didn’t perform well at the box office – it was selling well on home video but its producer, Adi Shankar, was promising a short film followup instead of a feature sequel.

Judge Dredd Sequels Darker Politics Star Trek Into Darkness Interview: Karl Urban on Secrecy, Dredd 2 & Star Trek 3

Thank you. I’ve been wanting to hear that. On a related note, if you get to make a sequel to Dredd, would you like to see Judge Death?

Yeah, absolutely! There’s so many stories that would be wonderful to explore. I think Alex and I are certainly interested in continuing exploring, and judging by the fan reaction and the amount of times even during this publicity tour that I’m talking about Dredd is a good indication that it definitely found an audience. We’ll see.

Would you be game to Kickstart a sequel?

I think we’d need a hell of a lot more than what Zach Braff is shooting for! But it’s certainly an idea. I think if there was a fan campaign mounted to call for another installment, it wouldn’t fall on deaf ears that’s for sure.

Last question: What’s one thing that will get people excited for the return of Riddick?

I’ve seen a little bit of footage from it, and it blew me away. If you’re a fan of Riddick, you’re in for a treat.

Would you like to see Urban return as Dredd 2 before Star Trek 3?

The Star Trek sequel stars Alice Eve, Anton Yelchin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bruce Greenwood, Chris Pine, John Cho, Karl Urban, Peter Weller, Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto, and Zoe Saldana and is directed by J.J. Abrams off a script by Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof and Roberto Orci.

Star Trek Into Darkness opens in theaters (regular and IMAX 3D) on May 17th, 2013. Select IMAX 3D theaters will open May 15th.


Follow Amy on Twitter @TheAmyNicholson and Rob @rob_keyes.

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  1. Dredd was awesome if it hadn’t been in 3d would have paid to see it in the theatre but loved it anyway.

    • The 3D aspect was not the reason this movie did not do well in the theaters. The reason it did poorly was because it was not marketed correctly.
      The marketing for this movie made the movie seem like a “B” movie. I only rented it on a whim and was pleasantly surprised.

      The 3D was actually pretty good IMO with some pretty good visuals. I would defintiely like to see Urban return to don the helmet.

      • I would say the whole 3-D thing definitely contributed to ‘Dredd’ not doing what it should nearly have done on it’s theatrical release! I can’t speak for anywhere else but in the U.K. it could have done so much better had virtually ALL prints not been steroscopic ones, thereby limiting hoow many screens in how many cinemas to how many people it could be shown on/in/to! Plus the whole 3-D imaging process took valuable money away from what was already a relatively low budget (for a theatrically-released CBM) affair, meaning the filmmakers were never able to show the full visual panorama they had hoped to show onscreen.

        In my humble opinion, the filmmakers behind ‘Dredd’ should have refused to make it in 3-D and declined all offers of financing where 3-D was a prerequisite of getting the money, and if they were going to do it in 3-D, they should have insisted on the 3-D cost IN ADDITION to the budget already needed to make the film properly. And having a much better director than Pete Travis would have helped immeasurably, someone like Antoine Fuqua should have directed ‘Dredd’ but the producers only looked at British directors which was a little myopic in my opinion.

        Despite it’s relative failure (to put it politely) at the box-office, it appears that ‘Dredd’ is selling like gangbusters on DVD and Blu ray, it’s STILL in the U.K. Top Ten a whole four months after release, so someone’s liking it mightily, let’s hope it gets a sequel after all…

    • In New York Dredd played on only one screen on the entire West Side.
      No 2D option. Only 3D. All of which is atypical of a “major” release.

      Despite the online promotion, tradition marketing was essentially
      non-existent and the limited distribution further evidence
      the studio actually had very little faith in the movie.

      Plenty of mediocre films have gotten wide distribution
      and full promotion and Dredd was actually a good
      movie and deserved better to say the least.

      • @Robert

        I agree, they really screwed Dredd from the beginning. Slapping 3D onto the title was also stupid. They should have just made it “Dredd” and had a 3D option, like most movies. Not make it seem like a joke like Piranha 3D… But honestly, I thought the 3D in the movie was actually pretty good. Especially since they had a lot of the action in slow motion it really let the effect bite in…

        I loved every aspect of the movie. I really wish the production companies take notice and also learn from their mistakes with the first one. They need to keep in mind that the first Terminator movie didn’t do too well in theaters either… They only finally decided to do a sequel because they realized the movie did really well on video and that there was a demand for a sequel… Hopefully it doesn’t take them 10 years though, lol.

      • yeah same here. this is one of those movies that slips through and people end up seeing it on DVD or tv and say “WHOA, how come i never heard of this before?”

        that’s why word of mouth is so important. make sure you tell people how good it was.

  2. Karl has just committed to playing a futuristic cop in the new Almost Human TV series.
    I should think Judge Dredd on television would certainly work and maybe could have
    been pursued particularly on light of sequel uncertainties and their unlikelihood.

    • HBO does Dredd. Yes please!!!!

  3. Dredd (imo) was great. People I know liked it but because it felt like a set up to a sequel kept them from loving it. Ill be honest in my opinion it did feel like it was setting up for a wicked sequel, which is fine…if we get one lol. I loved it as stand alone or as beginner, but I understand why my friends?brother feel that way as well.

  4. Karl Urban was great as Dredd! Will definitely want a sequel. @Oracle…yes, i do believe poor marketing was what killed the film at the box office, not a lot of people knew it even came out.

    • @Dazz

      It did kind of at the end. Not really setting up for a sequel, but it did set up for a continuation of that psychic chick character. Wouldn’t mind another movie with her either…

  5. A “DREDD” sequel would be so awesome, but I just don’t see how they would be able to get it going. If they did the budget would be even smaller. However, I almost think I’d rather see a Dredd tv series. Only a few episodes per season like “Sherlock” , so they can spend more time and money on each one.

    • Even better, alternate the episodes with one off animated episodes in varying styles like “Aeon Flux” or “The Animatrix” etc… showcasing standalone stories. It’d really bring the comicbook to life.

      • Animatrix is the only example of this I can think of, and while it was decidedly hit and miss, it had some great moments and the experiment was fun.

        • The “Gotham Knight” Batman animation was done by the same people that did “The Animatrix”. It too was several short stories all done in different styles.

    • They actually didn’t do that bad. they made somewhere around mid thirties at the U.S. and split in foreign territories.

      This movie should have at the very least made between 60-80 million which would have been a sweet haul.

      thy need to do well on blueray or dvd and keep up great sales and hopefully (cross your fingers and toes) we’ll see them kickstart a sequel ala chronicles and RIDDICK and film it between 2-6 years from now. …hopefully with a new producer but keep the actor.

      • The problem was instead of letting it build an audience over a few weeks in the cinema, when it didn’t perform after the opening weekend they pulled it from cinemas by the end of the first week. This film was only going to succeed through word of mouth because the advertizing just wasn’t there. It also had a limited audience due to it’s 18/R certificate. That’s okay for horror films because they always do well because they are seen as being “Date movies”.

  6. I would like to see him cast as Batman in the Justice League.

  7. Yes to all, especially Dredd 2

  8. Would love to see another one. Saw it at the theater in 3D with the wife and purchased the blu ray on release. I think that the success on DVD would mean that a second one would be better received by a wider audience (by that I mean the US)

  9. The biggest crime here is the box office for Dredd.

    • Dredd 2 needs/NEEDS to happen, let’s start the campaign right here

      • bring on Dredd 2

  10. well all i no is before karl + alex got together we never had a real DREDD movie now we do and what a beauty it was

  11. Dredd will forever in my mind be one of those movies that was worth the admission that unfortunately didn’t perform as it should’ve to guarentee an interest in a sequel. Perhaps if they han’t tried to force 3D down peoples throats or have such terrible marketing it might’ve performed better. Thankfully I was able to catch it in 2D(Could care less for 3D and I have the TV)and purchased the Bluray once it was available..

  12. The first Dredd film was brilliant and I’d sell my soul for a sequel!

    Please make it happen people!

  13. A top notch film that got stuffed by its own lack of marketing. It deserved MUCH better and hopefully the studio will do the right thing by the next one.

  14. He should be Batman.

  15. Dredd 2 with Judge Death would be like The Road Warrior. It would be hugely successful and many who did not see the original would see the sequel and then discover the first one because of it.

  16. Just goes to show you… The topic was Star Trek, and a little Dredd talk got everyone fired up. If only writers/directors would see this information…It would probably shed new light on the subject.

    Dredd was bad ass. Blood and Gore were a high factor I couldn’t of been happier with plot… Trapped in, have to shoot way out. A perfect combination IMO.


  17. I’m very happy that JJ is so secretive about his films. These days you can find out about all the secrets of a film before even seeing it. I like not knowing much about a film before seeing it; that way it’ll be even more entertaining for me when the secrets are revealed.

    And I also definitely put my vote in for Dredd 2. I saw it in the cinema even though I wasn’t that interested (due to the first film) because I heard it was actually pretty good. I’m very glad I did, and it’s a crime that it didn’t make its budget back when garbage like A Haunted House makes a huge profit and gets a sequel.

  18. Does anyone out there have any information about when the TV show Almost Human is set to begin? It stars Karl Urban and Michael Ealy.

  19. I was pleasantly surprised by Dredd it is an excellent movie, great 3D and great take on the character. Karl Urban was great as Dredd and I would love to see a sequel.

  20. Urban was GREAT as DREDD can we have some more please

  21. DREDD SEQUEL. YES! Please! Urban is Dredd…what a fantastic yet underrated movie!