‘Star Trek Into Darkness’: Simon Pegg & John Cho on Spoilers, 'Star Trek 3,' & 'Star Wars'

Star Trek Into Darkness International Trailer Enterprise

Simon Pegg and John Cho

The first question I wanted to ask you about, was something I saw on the Graham Norton show the other day about a prank that you played on Benedict Cumberbatch on set.

Simon Pegg: Oh we played it on everybody, even on John.

I want to hear your side of it then...

Simon Pegg: John's reaction was one of the funniest. Do you remember that? [laughs]

John Cho: What did I do?

Simon Pegg: Basically I put it in a bag...we were working in a nuclear facility--this fishing facility--and I put in a bag that everyone had to wear a special kind of cream...

John Cho: Right...[laughs]

Simon Pegg: in order to ward off an ambient radiation which was similar to UV. I made it sound very convincing. [I said that] you would get a rash and also we had to keep physically moving all the time because otherwise ions would settle in our blood stream. So I had Chris [Pine] going for a little bit and then Anton [Yelchin] and then Zoe [Saldana] and Zack [Quinto] and then it became something more of a production job because everybody was in on it even the crew. The crew was doing the exercises and stuff and we were walking around with dots all over our faces with the cream. Benedict we had him [fooled] for an entire day with this spectacular conclusion. By the time John [Cho] and Kyle [Valle] joined us we had them read out PSAs to camera about the myth of visiting the facility and not worry about wearing the neutron cream. At the very end of the thing the dialogue that was on the cue cards and the second to last one of them said, 'and we realize that we have been...' and the last one just said, 'had.'

John Cho: God it was terrible!

Simon Pegg: so then half an hour later [John] went, 'so is the neutron cream not real either?'

John Cho: ...because they have been setting me up for days we were spending all this time together and it was all false it was all setting me up. It was crazy.

Simon Pegg: We would say things like, it's fun down here we're having a great time but this neutron cream is a pain though--we gotta wear that--any way listen...

John Cho: Yea [laughs]

What was it like for you guys this time stepping back into these iconic roles again after now having had people react to them in the previous film? I know that was probably one experience and this is a little bit different this time.

John Cho: It was like a family reunion I'd say.

Simon Pegg: It was like putting on a pair of comfortable shoes. It felt nice and very easy, surprisingly easy. But in that sense it kind of pervaded the first film, the ease of it the way in which we collaborated and I think that's down to JJ [Abrams]'s unearthly ability to assemble groups of people that work well together.

That was one thing I had mentioned to Alice, that was something that I thought about coming out of the screening, how well the ensemble actually works in this film. You each get your own character arcs and moment to shine.

John Cho: There's two different things. 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.

Is there any direction that you guys want your characters to go in Star Trek 3? I know Damon Lindelof has been talking already about a third film, is there something that you personally want to see your character get to do? Something you as an actor want to do or something you think would be fun for your character? 

Simon Pegg: I was very jealous in the first film of that amazing fight you guys did on the platform so it's nice to get in a few headbutt and a few punches in this one.

John Cho: I think I'd like to be beamed. I realized I haven't been beamed--oh wait I have been beamed...

You want to be in the teleportation room.

John Cho: I want to be in the teleportation room.

Simon Pegg: You want to be voluntarily beamed.

John Cho: voluntarily beamed. Pre-loved and voluntarily beamed. Start printing the t-shirts now!

Voluntarily beamed you should trademark that. I imagine it's frustrating dealing with all the prerelease speculation. This time people were dissecting Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto's hands trying to figure out who was on which side of the glass. On our site we try to be sensitive to spoilers and things like that because we want people to go out to the movie and get to experience the twists and turns. What's it like for you guys now having to deal with that when you're promoting a movie? You're promoting The World's End and people are asking about Kahn or something like that before the movie comes out.

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, is 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.

Simon Pegg: Yea, mostly the press have been great. The official press, the bloggers less so but they are kind of people who enjoy getting in and trying to reveal everything.

John Cho: 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.

Simon Pegg: But the people who have seen it and have gone online to places where other people might see things and just talked about it, they're the enemy. They're the people to which whom we owe absolutely nothing, not the truth, nothing. They're just there and they need to be squashed.

Do you ever get tempted to mess with the press and other people that you're talking to? I know that Karl Urban for instance at Comic Con did the thing where he promised 'exclusive footage of Star Trek' and then it was 20 minutes of him surfing. But then he also was name dropping Gary Mitchell kind of in connection to Cumberbatch's character to spread misinformation.

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, fuck you. To the person who's trying to sell more advertising on their website by getting spoilers - they don't deserve the truth. So yea absolutely it's fun playing that dance. It means that no one will ever trust anything you say ever again.

John Cho: I just want to confirm, this was the surfing video of the camera pointing towards Karl, not the water right?

Simon Pegg: Correct!

Is there anything that you guys couldn't talk about that now you can? Now that we know that Khan is the person, is there anything that you are excited to talk about now?

Simon Pegg: The fact is that a lot of people don't know that. We had a bit of radio interviews this morning and the DJ said the K word out loud and we just went, 'aw man!' The same thing with this, for anyone that's reading this that hasn't seen the movie, maybe they haven't seen it on DVD yet. We still owe every single person who has not seen the film the privilege of not knowing what's going to happen. So we will never talk about that aspect in the press. We will never talk about anything which might spoil the film for other people because most people want to have a good time.

That's fair.  I can understand that I mean I think this movie more than probably any other this summer, that moment, the moment where he says "I'm Khan," that moment everyone has been waiting for and trying to figure out ahead of time.

John Cho: And it lands

Simon Pegg: There was a gasp.

John Cho: There was a gasp in the crowd and it was really cool.

I think it's handled really well in the film because we've had some idea that might be who he was but we didn't know for sure - and when you hear it, it didn't come off as pandering.

John Cho: But 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.

Did you guys have any advice for the newcomers this time in terms of dealing with the pressure of these iconic roles?

Simon Pegg: Don't fuck with John Cho

John Cho: [laughs] They don't need advice. Benedict Cumberbatch needs no advice.

Simon Pegg: The assurance and professionalism of all of our new [cast mates] I love Peter Weller  in this movie.

Simon Pegg: Some of his deliveries are so cool, he's so casual. His authority is just brilliant.

It was cool to see him, did you guys ever see the episode of Fringe he was in?

Simon Pegg: Yea.

John Cho: No.

It was a great episode, it was really cool. It works as a stand alone thing too if you haven't seen it John.

Simon Pegg: Yea, he's brilliant.

I know you guys also voiced characters in the video game tie-in, what was it like taking a live-action character that you run around with on set - and then going into a booth and trying to communicate that same energy?

John Cho: It's kinda like ADR really. For me my primary thing was, 'this is what video games are like these days?' because I'm more of a Tetris guy than anything else. To see that, that was happening with video games was shocking.

Simon Pegg: It was nice to just do the voice again and be able to be Scotty again. I love playing the character. It's a different vibe but it's still kind of fun.

Did you guys play it?  

Simon Pegg: I haven't played it yet.

John Cho: What system is it on?

Simon Pegg: I think it's on multi platform.

Simon Pegg: I love that it's the Gorn for our universe which is far more live than the terrifying prospect to the one of the original series but no less I love the fact that it's such a beloved character. Everyone loves that episode, "Arena" that famous episode. The Gorn  is such a known quantity in the Star Trek universe, it was the perfect choice. 

I'm sure people have been asking you a lot of Star Wars questions but I'm curious what advice do you have for JJ going into the Star Wars property now? What do you love about what he did with Star Trek that you want to see him be able to harness with Star Wars. Obviously, they are different franchises.

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 [space ship].

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.

I think most people were happy with the news, there was obviously people in the blogosphere that were detractors but most people were genuinely happy with him being selected as director. Alice said she doesn't even look at the internet she tries to not pay attention at all. 

Simon Pegg: The worst and the best that the internet ever did was give everybody a voice.

Is there anything that you want to say about The World's End? Or that you want to say about Sleepy Hollow?

John Cho: I probably shouldn't [say anything about Sleepy Hollow] but it's been picked up. Alex and Bob, thumbs up. I'm excited.

The first trailer for your film [Simon] just dropped.

Simon Pegg: And it was massive I think it had a 1.5 million hits in 24 hours which is extraordinary. We're so excited. It's out on August 23rd here in the US. I just can't wait for it [to come out] I can't wait to show it to everybody because it represents the culmination of 10 years of work really. Edgar and me set out to make 3 films. After we made the first one we said let's make this a kind of a series of films and this is the last chapter of that series. We'll do more but this is the last chapter of that fable on the screen deal.

One last question for you [Simon] before I go we have a lot of Doctor Who fans on our site, is there any chance that you would ever return? I know your character is gone but it's timey-wimey Doctor Who.

Simon Pegg: It's funny you should say that because... no. I was so happy to be in Doctor Who because it was a show I've watched all my life. I played my part and that's that, I won't be back but it's forever in my curriculum vita. 


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.

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