The Star Trek franchise is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a new, action-packed entry: "Star Trek Beyond."
The franchise, originally created by Gene Rodenberry, made its debut in 1966 as a TV series about the adventures of James T. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise. Although the original series only ran for three seasons, many new iterations have appeared on television and in theaters in the 50 years since. "Star Trek Beyond" is the latest in the franchise, putting director Justin Lin at the head of the ship. J.J. Abrams remains part of the franchise, this time in an executive producer role, while co-star Simon Pegg takes on co-writing the script along with Doug Jung.
At the "Star Trek Beyond" press day, cast members Chris Pine, Karl Urban, John Cho, Zoe Saldana, and Simon Pegg shared their thoughts on the evolution of Star Trek, the loss of Leonard Nimoy and co-star Anton Yelchin, and what the new message of the franchise is. Here are 19 things the cast shared.
1. Simon Pegg wanted to pay homage to the 50th anniversary of Star Trek by creating "a hybrid of an episode of the original series with a spectacular cinematic event" for "Star Trek Beyond."
2. Pegg also wanted to make sure that everyone who had been there, character- or story-wise, got what they wanted, while also making it welcoming for those who had never seen any Star Trek films or TV series before.
3. "Beyond" takes place at a time the Enterprise has been out for 966 days -- a nod to the original "Star Trek" series' premiere (September 8, 1966).4. "Star Trek Beyond" pairs Spock (Zachary Quinto) and McCoy (Karl Urban) together through most of the film. Urban said that he felt it was great to have "two characters that are so diametrically opposed to each other, be forced into a situation where they have to depend on each other to survive" and that it was the most fun he's had making a Star Trek film.
5. Quinto agreed with Urban and felt that they got to "know each other and appreciate each other more than we already did, which was already a significant amount." He also added that he felt fans of the series would enjoy seeing the dynamic between the two characters.6. The reveal of Sulu being gay was not as important to John Cho as how it was handled. Cho said that he thought it "a beautiful idea and was just concerned with how it would be received. It was the handling of it that was most important to me. Its nonchalant posture towards it is the best thing about it. The fact that it is normalized, but if you re-watch it, in 10 years, you won't think anything of it. That's the best thing about it. There's no music queue, no close-up."
7.George Takei and Cho are actually on great terms and email all the time, despite what the media may have interpreted Takei's conflicting opinion on Sulu's sexuality. Cho says they've had, "big, long, lovely discussions about it[...] We were never shouting at each other, or anything like that. And it's a great discussion to have. I'm really happy with the way that it's been talked about and responded to, and I'm still a huge fan of G.T., for sure."
8. Zoe Saldana (Uhura) was puzzled that people were more concerned over revealing Sulu was gay, rather than the fact that it is revealed that Sulu is a father. "I also feel quite puzzled that we were having a bit of a fit over who he fathered a baby with," she says.9. The film has a tribute to Leonard Nimoy, and the cast felt it was important to honor his legacy. Quinto felt that Nimoy was still very much a part of making "Beyond," and that he will be a part of anything they do moving forward.
10. Director Justin Lin wanted to be a part of "Beyond" so he could achieve his childhood dream of blowing up the Enterprise ... but then put it back together. Pegg, on the other hand, hated the idea, and it took some convincing to get him on board. He finally warmed to the idea because it allows the characters to figure out how to come back together as a family.11. The decision behind using "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys in the film's climax was easy, "it's just a kick-ass song. If anything's going to blow up a swarm of spaceships, it's going to be the Beastie Boys." said Pegg.
12. Saldana appreciated that, in "Beyond," Pegg and Doug Jung (co-writer) made the characters more human. She added that "Being overly worked, being away from home and all the things that keep you grounded, can put a strain, not just on the intimate relationships that you may have, but also the professional ones. I thought I would never see the day where I would walk into the Enterprise, and we're not that excited to see each other. I thought, Okay, this is a great place to start because I can only imagine where we're going to end up. We literally end up in the opposite direction. We're dying to be close to each other. We're dying to save each other to get back together. I thought, Okay, that's brilliant."13. Saldana also talked about the parallels between her character, Uhura, and women of today. She stated, "Women are becoming very, very independent; not just in the workforce, but also in their personal lives. There's something about realizing that you should want to be a part of something, but you don't necessarily have to be a part of something, in order to be validated or respected or appreciated or considered strong enough ... There is a parallel universe situation that's going on with Uhura and women these days, where there's no longer this animosity or this resentment to prove who you are. You just want to be left alone to find out who you are because you're interesting and you're curious."
14. The costume designer, Sanja Milkovic Hays, added ranks to all the women's Starfleet costumes so that it felt like a throwback, yet modernized.
15. When asked which timeline they would choose to be in, Cho said that he preferred theirs because he feels that this version is able to give more to women and people of color, adding, "Roddenberry did set up a world that was incredibly progressive, but it was tempered by the social mores of the era. I feel like we can go further in 2016 than he was able to do at the time."16. Jaylah's original name was "Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone" which was what they wanted the character to be -- an independent, resourceful female. But, after saying the name a few times, it got tiring and shortened to J-Law, which became Jaylah.
17. Each member of the cast remembered Anton Yelchin (Chekov) as an intelligent, sweet guy who was fearless creatively. For most of the cast, they recall him working on various pet projects, like working to translate a Russian novel into English.18. Quinto believes that "Star Trek remains, in a landscape of popular culture entertainment, something that is a beacon of inclusivity and progressive thinking. I think it just takes on different forms now than it did 50 years ago."
"Star Trek Beyond" is in theaters now.