As a friend and frequent colleague of J.J. Abrams — not to mention a featured player in the new Star Trek films, as well as in a memorable cameo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens — you’d think that Simon Pegg would have the inside track on the latest news involving both film franchises. And while he’s been privy to a few details over the years, for example, what Rey’s lineage might have been before The Last Jedi introduced her humble origins into the canon, Pegg tells Yahoo Entertainment that he is kept out of the loop more often than not. And that’s specifically so he can’t accidentally let details slip in interviews like this one. “They protect themselves against our big mouths,” the actor and geek icon says, laughing.
That said, when Abrams does have a really cool piece of Trek-related news to share, he generally comes to Pegg — whose latest film, Terminal, opens in theaters and VOD on May 11 — and his fellow Enterprise crew members first. That’s the case with the recent announcement that S.J. Clarkson will helm the as-yet untitled Star Trek 4, making her the first female director in the franchise’s nearly four decades of feature film history. “J.J. emailed us with the possibility before it was announced, and everyone was so excited,” remembers Pegg, who inherited James Doohan’s position as eternally put-upon engineer Montgomery Scott in Abrams’s 2009 reboot. “It’s so overdue. Star Trek should have a woman in the captain’s chair; it’s the perfect franchise to embrace that. It should have happened a long, long time ago.”
Of course, Pegg had a lot more access to behind-the-scenes details on the third Trek film, Star Trek: Beyond, since he co-wrote that 2016 adventure in addition to acting in it. This time around, he says that he’s merely a passenger on an adventure that is reportedly going to reunite Chris Pine’s Jim Kirk with his onscreen father, Chris Hemsworth’s George Kirk. “I’m working on something with [Abrams’s production company] Bad Robot, but it’s not the next Star Trek film,” Pegg says. “That’s being done by Patrick McKay and John Payne, and I’m not sure what the status is at the moment. S.J. just came onboard, so it feels like we’ve turned a corner toward production, but I have no solid information.”
Pegg is also waiting for a status update on Quentin Tarantino’s much-buzzed about R-rated Trek script, which is being developed separately from McKay and Payne’s screenplay. “It’s an exciting prospect,” Pegg says of the story written by Tarantino, which seems certain to push the series in a darker direction than Star Trek‘s creator, Gene Roddenberry, might have been comfortable with. But the franchise has been trending in that direction anyway; the recently concluded freshman season of Star Trek: Discovery, the first Trek TV series in over 10 years, put its Starfleet officers in strikingly complex emotional and political situations, to the chagrin of some Trekkies who expressed a vocal preference for Seth McFarlane’s more classical Roddenberry homage, The Orville.
Pegg says he hasn’t had a chance to catch up with Discovery, but he does have some thoughts about the sometimes divisive state of fandom from the perspective of someone who is both a fan of and creator for these legacy franchises. “People love their stuff and have their specific opinions, and now they can rally those opinions with people who feel the same way. It’s the almost inevitable consequence of social media, really. It’s always been like that — they just haven’t had the ability to find each other and moan collectively. Well, it’s not moaning; one of the things I find to be reductive is when there’s a complaint about something, and it’s dismissed as moaning or butt-hurt fanboys. In fact, people’s opinions are valid. If someone doesn’t like something, it doesn’t mean they’re being spoilers or ruining the fun. That’s their opinion.”
Funnily enough, in the past, Pegg has used his platform as a creator to indulge in some butt-hurt fanboy moaning. Fans of his late, great British TV series Spaced — which introduced him to his Cornetto Trilogy partners Edgar Wright and Nick Frost — will no doubt recall the time his alter ego, Tim Bisley, went on an epic rant about The Phantom Menace, reducing a Jar Jar Binks-loving little fan to tears. “I’m definitely guilty of engendering that in some respects,” he confesses. “I look back on that now, and it was a big joke at the time and very real feelings that I was having about Star Wars, so I channeled that into Tim. Nowadays, I would probably be less vocal about stuff — I find that kind of negative discourse a little tiring. But it was fun to sublimate my own disappointment!”
Terminal opens in theaters, On Demand, and Digital HD on May 11.
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