After months of build-up and downright divisive pre-release speculation, Star Trek Into Darkness has arrived in US theaters. The film has received an overwhelmingly favorable response from critics, (read our Star Trek Into Darkness review) and is poised to make big bucks at the summer box office – in spite of high-powered hold-overs like Iron Man 3 along with a surprisingly strong performance from The Great Gatsby.
Last week, we had a chance to chat with two of the film’s stars, Simon Pegg (Lieutenant Commander Montgomery “Scotty” Scott) and John Cho (Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu) to discuss the latest Star Trek film, their upcoming projects and any advice they have for director J.J. Abrams as he makes the jump from Star Trek to Star Wars. We’ve already posted our interview with Karl Urban, who returns as “Bones” McCoy, and make sure to check back in the coming days as we post further interviews – including Alice Eve as the much-talked about Dr. Carol Marcus.
NOTE: The following is an abridged (and more concise) version of the interview with Simon Pegg and John Cho. You can read the entire transcript from our conversations with the actors by clicking the link below:
- Simon Pegg and John Cho (FYI: The unabridged version contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the film)
Even though Star Trek Into Darkness has officially hit theaters in both the US and the UK, among other territories, Pegg and Cho are still reluctant to go into too much detail about the film’s various twists and turns – opening up about the struggles of preserving the audience experience in the modern movie scene:
Simon Pegg: JJ’s always instilled in us the importance of protecting the audience’s experience that’s what’s important to us. People can lose sight of that in the marketing. They want to blow every secret… I enjoy it because it’s something that I totally believe in – looking after the audience. I think spoilers are cowardly. They’re just people who want to anesthetize themselves against the tension and the experience that the director and the artist have set up. If you go in there knowing what’s going to happen, it’s like reading the last page of the book. It’s just cowardly. Some people can’t help themselves, they need to be protected.
John Cho: I found that most people are remarkably cooperative […] I think that’s a sign of a good movie too cause if you have a bad movie I think they’d be a little less careful with the spoilers. I feel it’s a testament to our movie that maybe they like it, they enjoy the experience of having the plot roll out in front of them and they don’t want to spoil it for other people.
WARNING: The following segment of the interview contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Star Trek Into Darkness. If you haven’t seen the film, take Simon Pegg’s advice, avoid spoiling yourself, and scroll down past the warning for the rest of the interview which is spoiler free.
Fellow-Star Trek star Karl Urban has been known to mess with reporters and fans – dropping tongue-in-cheek exclusive video of Star Trek at Comic-Con (which turned out to be several minutes of the actor surfing followed by 10 seconds of nondescript behind-the-scenes footage). In fact, Karl Urban outright lied about Benedict Cumberbatch’s mysterious character – setting off an entire bout of pre-release speculation that he was actually a version of classic Star Trek character, Gary Mitchell. So, did Pegg and Cho ever spread misinformation about the film?
Simon Pegg: I lied, I’ve barefaced lied to people when they’ve asked me [about the film] because it isn’t a guessing game. It’s not like if you get it right I gotta go ‘Yes, confirmed.’ No, F*** you […] So yea absolutely it’s fun playing that dance. It means that no one will ever trust anything you say ever again.
While the actors are careful not to discuss too many Star Trek Into Darkness specifics, they did touch on the film’s most-anticipated moment – the reveal of John Harrison’s true identity as Khan Noonien Singh. After months of speculation and debate about the character, fans finally have their answer – and get to hear Cumberbatch say the name that many were anticipating:
John Cho: It lands.
Simon Pegg: There was a gasp.
John Cho: There was a gasp in the crowd and it was really cool […] Even if you suspect it, it’s like “Ah!” there’s that ah moment.
Simon Pegg: That’s why we’ve been so careful, even in the face of such huge amount of speculation is to never, ever just never give up protecting the film. Those moments are so precious. When you go into a movie and you’re surprised by it – these days with brand recognition being such an important thing and essentially trailers, the way trailers have evolved encouraging people not to see the film unless they’ve already seen the film which is kind of the paradox of marketing these days anytime that you enjoy genuine sense of wonder and surprise in the movies it’s priceless.
Since Sulu and Scotty are left alive at the end of Star Trek Into Darkness, fans can expect both Pegg and Cho to return for the inevitable sequel. Each of the characters had their own unique story arcs in the current film – as Sulu tests his mettle in the Captain’s chair and Scotty engages in a solo-infiltration mission. In our interview, the actors opened up about what they enjoyed most about returning to their characters – and what they’d like to do in the next film:
John Cho: The script is really well written and I find it amazing that they give everyone something in each of the movies and maybe it’s the job of a movie to do that versus a television series where they can go from one character to another but I find it amazing that they can pull it off with such panache. The second thing in terms of us seeming like an ensemble I think that’s credit to JJ. He obviously chose each one of us I think we had that in common so maybe that’s what connects us. We’re just lucky that he was the one choosing, we all happen to love one another.
Simon Pegg: It’s a big ensemble, it’s a lot of people. Every one of them is a character that’s pre-loved. The audience wants to see them.
John Cho: Cool phrase, pre-loved.
Simon Pegg: Pre-loved, I come pre-loved.
Simon Pegg: I was very jealous in the first film of that amazing fight you guys [Cho and Chris Pine] did on the [drilling] platform so it’s nice to get in a headbutt and a few punches in this one.
John Cho: I think I’d like to be beamed [In Star Trek 3]. I realized I haven’t been beamed — oh wait I have been beamed – I want to be in the teleportation room then.
Simon Pegg: You want to be voluntarily beamed!
John Cho: Voluntarily beamed. Pre-loved and voluntarily beamed. Start printing the t-shirts now!
Despite a vocal group of diehard Trekkies that consider J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot problematic, the films have enjoyed a largely positive critical reception and box office sales – reigniting interest in the classic series brand. As a result, Paramount Pictures has started discussing Star Trek 3 and writer Damon Lindelof even hinted at what direction the filmmakers might take with the sequel. That said, it’s unclear whether Abrams will return as director for the next film – since he’ll be very busy the next two years working on Star Wars: Episode 7. While Pegg and Cho hope that Abrams will return for Star Trek 3, they also offered advice to the filmmaker as he steps into that “other” fan-favorite sci-fi universe – stressing the importance of physicality (as opposed to overblown CGI):
Simon Pegg: Just do your thing. That’s what he’s going to do. One of the things he does with us on Star Trek is make sure that we are constantly within physical environments that are there, the absolute vast majority of what you see is set. Then that’s augmented beautifully by CG here and there to give it scale sometimes or increase its scale. Some of those sets were just giant, the space hanger was just giant and it was all there. It was like being in a fully realized spaceship.
John Cho: Particularly the Star Wars world that needs it.
Simon Pegg: Cause the last few were sort of airless cause it was all CG.
John Cho: And whatever he’s done to us, whatever magic he’s used to make us feel comfortable and feel fraternal I would hope that he does with the cast of Star Wars.
Simon Pegg: I have such unending faith in JJ there is nothing resembling advice that I can give him. I just know he’s going to get it right.
For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors, check back soon for our Star Trek Into Darkness episode of the SR Underground podcast. As mentioned, we’ve got more interviews with the cast and filmmakers that will go live in the coming days. However, if you’re eager for more Star Trek Into Darkness info right now, make sure to check out our Star Trek Into Darkness news archive – which includes the following featured articles along with much more:
- ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Review
- ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Spoilers Discussion
- ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Interview: Karl Urban on Secrecy, ‘Dredd 2′ & ‘Star Trek 3′
Star Trek Into Darkness is now playing 2D, 3D, and 3D IMAX theaters.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more on Star Trek Into Darkness as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.