There are currently thirteen Star Trek movies in existence. From Star Trek: The Motion Picture released in 1979 to Star Trek Beyond released in 2016, the more than fifty-year-old franchise is doing everything but slowing down.
Paramount’s CEO revealed that the studio will make two new Star Trek movies in the next few years.
Quentin Tarantino has made a deal to develop one of those new movies, and according to Zachary Quinto (Spock), the studio still has plans to make at least one more film with his crew as well.
What is it that has kept audiences coming back to Star Trek for so many years? For some, it’s the fact that “Star Trek depicts a meritocracy. The characters were cool not because of looks, wealth, or social position, but because they were very good at their jobs.”
Others revere the optimistic view of the future, or the creativity of the writers with each episode finding the crew in a new world. It could also be the diversity depicted on the screen, the assortment of strong and multifaceted characters, and the outstanding actors. The list goes on and on.
Then there’s also the sense of wonder and excitement that surrounds the actual making of something so long-lasting and quite literally out of this world.
From behind-the-scenes photos, we can start to get a sense of what it was like to actually be on those legendary sets, interact with the actors, and witness how the (increasingly good) special effects were created.
We can boldly go behind the camera and behind the relationships, and examine what it is that makes this particular franchise so continuously alluring and definitively iconic.
Here’s a look at 20 Behind-The-Scenes Photos That Completely Change The Star Trek Movies.
Star Trek Beyond was released in 2016 and is the thirteenth movie in the Star Trek film franchise and the third installment in the new reboot series.
Star Trek Beyond featured many new characters and alien species, and among them was Natalia (an alien woman staying at Yorktown in 2263 of the alternate reality).
On a typical day of filming, the makeup artists spent six-and-a-half hours putting actress Ashley Edner into this full upper-body make-up.
The makeup for the character of Natalia was sculpted by Makeup Effects Sculptor Joey Orosco, and applied to Edner by Special Makeup Effects Supervisor Joel Harlow (who is actually her real-life step-father) and Makeup Effects Artist Werner Pretorius.
J.J. Abrams successfully relaunched the Star Trek Franchise in 2009, and Star Trek fans and critics alike had an overall positive reaction.
However, his sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness didn’t quite drum up the same level of excitement. It was seen as an overall disappointment and earned less money domestically than the first of the reboot films.
In an interview, Abrams opened up about some of the issues with Into Darkness: “At the end of the day... withholding the Khan thing ended up seeming like we were lying to people, I was trying to preserve the fun for the audience..."
Hr continued: "And yet, I found myself frustrated by my choices… I would never say that I don’t think that the movie ended up working. But I feel like it didn’t work as well as it could have had I made some better decisions before we started shooting.”
When Leonard Nimoy passed away in February 2015 at the age of 83, the entertainment world, and the Star Trek universe specifically, lost an icon.
Nimoy portrayed Spock, the now legendary human/vulcan hybrid, for over 45 years.
The last time Nimoy stepped into the role of Spock was in 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness.
He’s seen in the movie advising a younger Spock (played by Zachary Quinto) on how to deal with the villain Kahn.
In Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn, Kahn famously took down Spock
Nimoy had originally said no to doing a cameo in Star Trek: Generations. When asked what made him say yes to appearing briefly in Into Darkness, Nimoy said, “This cameo in Star Trek Into Darkness was about the Spock character... This story lent itself to the idea that Spock would contact me to ask for information.”
Writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung considered the need for more strong female characters in the Star Trek movies and thus Jaylah was born.
When discussing where Jaylah got her name, Pegg explained, “Doug and I and [Director] Justin [Lin], in the writing room, wanted to create this very independent female, very resourceful character on the Altamid surface. However, thinking up a name for the new Star Trek character was a struggle."
"The writing team began calling her 'Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone' but... it started to get tiring, always saying, 'Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone,'" said Pegg. "It's a long name! So then we started calling her 'J-Law.'"
“Despite the inspiration,” said Doug Jung “the connection between Jennifer Lawrence and Jaylah is so esoteric.” He added, "Phonetically, it sounded good – 'Jaylah.'"
After the movie's initial director Roberto Orcia left the project, Simon Pegg and Doug Jung came in to rewrite the entire screenplay.
Jung has said “One of the things I find most interesting about Star Trek and what we hopefully did with this, is kind of address Roddenberry's vision of this utopian world and ask those questions that he brought up in the '60s when he thought of it."
"But how do we look at those things now? Can a utopian world exist? Should it exist? Is it even good for the greater thing?" he said. "Those questions, to me, were interesting thematic things to talk about first and try to ingrain into the characters and the story.”
The movie went from writing to production in two-and-a-half months.
This was a speed that director Justin Lin claimed he "had never been done before... on a film of this size.”
It’s no secret that Nemesis was not a hit with fans, critics, or financially, and many feel that its existence actually hurt the franchise.
Producer Rick Berman revealed in an interview in 2014 that one decision could have given Nemesis an even worse reputation than it already holds: Nemesis was almost made without The Next Generation Cast.
Berman fought the studio to keep the TNG crew in the movie, saying “The head of the studio had really tried to convince me to do a movie without the TNG cast. The feeling was 'These guys have all gotten kind of older. It's time to introduce some new, fresh blood.' ... I felt strongly against that.
He continued: "After a four-year absence from the screen, the fans really wanted to see Patrick, Brent, Jonathan [Frakes] and company again. I could have been wrong... but I felt strongly.”
A huge issue that was often labeled as a reason for the failure of Star Trek: Nemesis was the choice of director.
Stuart Baird, who had directed such movies as Executive Decision and US Marshalls was chosen to direct.
Much to the dismay of fans and critics alike, it came out that Baird had no prior knowledge of Star Trek before becoming director of Star Trek: Nemesis.
It’s even rumored that Baird refused to watch any of The Next Generation to prepare (and reportedly went so far to say he hated the franchise.)
LeVar Burton has also stated that Baird kept calling him "Laverne," and that Baird thought Commander LaForge was an alien.
Suffice it to say the cast was less than thrilled with their director, and this did not help the movie as a whole.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture overcame many challenges during production.
Fist off, Leonard Nimoy didn’t like the script and did not want to do the movie.
However, after thinking about how fans would react if he did not join the cast, he made a deal: he would return as Spock only on the condition that he had final approval over the script.
Budget was another issue. A column by David Gerrold stated that up to $6 million had been spent on unusable special effects and that with a final budget of “...$42,000,000, Star Trek may have grown too big for its audience.”
Some estimate the final cost was actually closer to $46 million.
However, interest surrounding the movie eventually led to a $139 million take at the box office, enough to call Star Trek: The Motion Picture a financial success.
From Lost to Alias to Fringe, J.J. Abrams is no stranger to sci-fi and action-packed storytelling.
For this reason, he seemed a smart choice when it came time to decide who would direct the first movie for the Star Trek relaunch in 2009.
However, there was one notable brand of sci-fi that Abrams had never really been part of: Star Trek.
“Star Trek," he said "always felt like a silly, campy thing. I remember appreciating it, but feeling like I didn't get it. Maybe I wasn't smart enough, maybe I wasn't old enough."
While some worried this would be a disadvantage for Abrams, he felt that his unfamiliarity with the series was an asset.
“I felt that was actually one of the few advantages I had. I was trying to make a movie, not trying to make a Trek movie," he stated.
In 2010, Star Trek won the Oscar for Best Makeup. The award is shared by Mindy Hall, Joel Harlow, and Barney Burman, who are pictured here.
Barney Burman is actually part of a family of legendary Hollywood makeup effects artists. His father is an Oscar nominee and multiple Emmy winner, and his grandfather Ellis Burman Sr. made prosthetics and props for the original Wolf Man (1941) and The Twilight Zone.
The makeup team’s work on the 2009 Star Trek movie brought Star Trek it’s first, and so far only, Oscar for the franchise.
The Makeup category was presented by huge Trek fan Ben Stiller at the 2010 Oscars.
Stiller even joked that he wished he had worn his Spock ears to present the award (admitting that he does indeed have two pairs of them at home, signed by Leonard Nimoy).
Jonathan Frakes holds a special place in the hearts’ of Star Trek fans and cast members alike. In addition to being one of the stars of TNG, he was also the first member of the cast to become a director, something that would become a trend.
Frakes directed several episodes of Next Generation, as well as episodes of Deep Space Nine and Voyager.
He also directed the movies Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection.
“In the beginning.. I voiced an interest to Rick (Berman) about directing, and I could feel his eyes roll," he said, "'Well you know what? You're gonna have to eventually train up'... Rick specifically changed my life by allowing me, and encouraging me, and supporting me as a director."
Actor Ricardo Montalban originated the role of Khan in the original Star Trek series and reprised the character for the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Montalban was already a well-known actor in Mexico when he was discovered by an American producer in 1942.
He became a popular contract actor for MGM, and in the late '70s, he became a television icon, playing "Mr. Roarke" on Fantasy Island for seven years.
Montalban also founded an organization called Nosotros to improve the image of Latinos and Hispanics in the entertainment industry, and to expand their employment opportunities in the industry.
This rare behind the scenes photo shows Ricardo Montalbán laughing at a small blow-up doll that has the face of his Fantasy Island co-star Hervé Villechaize.
The Oscar-winning makeup team from 2009’s Star Trek was back at it for Star Trek Beyond in 2016.
Pictured above is the character Manas getting a touch up before a big scene. Manas is played by actor Joe Taslim.
Taslim originally had a professional Judo career and was a member of the Indonesia Judo national team between 1997 and 2009. After an injury forced him to stop his career as a professional athlete, Taslim started to work as an actor.
His character Manas was once a crew member on the USS Franklin— but he morphed into Manas and became Krall's go-to henchman.
Make-up prosthetics for Manas were designed by Joel Harlow, who recalls: "Manas clocked in at around nine pieces... he was similar to Krall, because this entire crew has been feeding off the same alien DNA."
Stephen Collins and Persis Khambatta starred as Will Decker and Lieutenant Ilia respectively in 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
Collins is best known today for his role as Reverend Eric Camden on the television series 7th Heaven, which ended after eleven seasons in May 2007.
At just 17, Perisis Khambatta was named Miss India and participated in that year's Miss Universe pageant. After her successful role in Star Trek, she became the first Indian actress to present an Academy Award.
The two co-stars had birthdays just one day apart.
Leonard Nimoy directed both Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) and its sequel Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), launching his directing career and becoming perhaps the most successful Star Trek actor-turned-director.
What was most impressive about Nimoy’s directing style was that it was coupled with business savvy.
Nimoy was a self-taught businessman who had a great respect for work ethic and the value of a dollar, which he formed growing up as the son of Depression-era Russian immigrants.
"This was a guy who came from Boston with nothing at 18 years old. He was a workaholic," said his son Adam Nimoy.
Because Nimoy had practiced a lifetime of saving and budgeting, he was able to do something practically unheard of: deliver a blockbuster under budget.
Star Trek Beyond had a 77-day filming schedule, with the majority of filming taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia, and a few weeks in Dubai.
“When it came to finding a practical location to represent the Starbase of Yorktown, on the edge of Federation space, generous rebates took the production to the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai – an incentive which also took Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Fast And Furious 7 to the UAE.”
Apart from the CGI, green screen backgrounds, a lot of Yorktown is actually the real Dubai, around the Jumeirah Lakes Towers waterfront.
The Yorktown bar interior is also real. It was filmed at the Grandstand of the Meydan Racecourse, a huge, mile-long structure that can hold over 60,000 spectators.
For the red forest scene in Star Trek Into Darkness, the filmmakers originally wanted to film in the jungles of Hawaii.
However, the post process to convert green to red just wasn’t working. "In a funny way," admitted Roger Guyett, Overall VFX Supervisor and Second Unit Director.
"I wanted to make it work... The problem is of course, the jungle has many, many shades of green," he said. "We did a whole bunch of tests and... it didn't just look weird, it also looked very kind of false.... not natural."
Ultimately, the chase scene ended up being filmed on a set (pictured above).
The set used minimal foliage and utilized visual effects to create a digital jungle.
In addition, around 20-30 Nibirian actors were on set and digi-doubles were also required to show more of the population.
Big movies are often subject to intense security measures to prevent script details from leaking to the public.
This was definitely true on the set of Star Trek (2009), making behind-the-scenes photos like this one hard to come by until after the movie was released.
It’s been said that no one on the Star Trek set was allowed to walk in public with their costumes on, and that the actors were driven around the sets in golf carts that were covered in black canvas.
When asked if he took any souvenirs home, Chris Pine said: “I was too scared to steal anything because the security around the set was so tight and I’d signed so many NDA’s that I was worried that Brad Grey was going to show up to my house with a crew of Paramount police and arrest me.”
Before director Nicholas Meyer started shooting Undiscovered Country, he found that Gene Roddenberry was unhappy with the script.
“Roddenberry really believed in the perfectability... of humans” said Meyer. “‘VI’ is a film in which the crew of the Enterprise has all kinds of prejudice... And some of their remarks, including how they [Klingons] all look alike and... and all the xenophobic things which we grappled with — that was all deeply offensive to him because he thought there isn’t going to be that."
He continued: "In fact, in his original Star Trek concept, there wasn’t any conflict... he was very distressed with the world of the Enterprise... I was writing.”
Meyer also said that after Star Trek VI, he convinced Paramount to make the Starfleet blankets seen in this photo, which were sold to fans at conventions. Apparently he still owns several of them.
Star Trek Beyond has more aliens in it than the previous two movies combined. Since it was the franchise’s 50th anniversary, the filmmakers decided they wanted to create fifty new aliens.
Sofia Boutella’s character (Jaylah) is one of these new aliens. It took makeup artists three and a half hours to do her makeup each day.
It also took between thirty to forty-five minutes to take it all off at the end of the day.
Of the three Star Trek reboot movies, Beyond is actually the one that performed the worst commercially.
Simon Pegg has commented that he was disappointed with the marketing surrounding the movie.
It also seems that Beyond's marketing didn't play into the fact that the movie was being released the same year as the 50th anniversary, which might have helped improve its box office performance.
What do you think of these photos behind the scenes of Star Trek movies? Have your say in the comment section!