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January 13, 2012

‘Star Trek’ sequel: A cosmic cast reunion on the Sony lot

Posted in: Movies

jj abrams Star Trek sequel: A cosmic cast reunion on the Sony lot

J.J. Abrams in Pasadena on Sunday. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

The “Star Trek” sequel is still way off in deep space – it won’t reach theaters until May 2013 — but  there was a cosmic cast reunion Monday on the stretch of sidewalk in front of the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf over at the Sony lot in Culver City.

Throughout the morning, the crew members of the Starship Enterprise were scheduled for fittings with the wardrobe department and the atmosphere was a bit like the first day of school with big grins, backslaps, hugs and handshakes. There was Simon Pegg (Scotty) and John Cho (Mr. Sulu) ducking into the coffee shop just before lunchtime and, on the patio out front, Bruce Greenwood (Capt. Christopher Pike) and cast newcomer Peter Weller discussing their golf swings and the enduring allure of John Le Carre novels. Pegg, with a toothy grin, stopped by Greenwood’s table to pay his respects: “Nice to see you!” Greenwood responded with a “My man!”

Sipping Red Bull and waiting for a lunchtime session with the cast and director J.J. Abrams, Greenwood said the “Trek” experience has been a true highlight in his career and he quickly added that  he wasn’t referring to the box office receipts or strong reviews. He pointed instead to the friendships he has now with people such as Chris Pine (Capt. James T. Kirk) and Anton Yelchin (Mr. Chekov).

quinto2 Star Trek sequel: A cosmic cast reunion on the Sony lot

Zachary Quinto as Spock, left, and Chris Pine as James T. Kirk in "Star Trek." (Paramount Pictures)

“The family deal that happened was just amazing,” Greenwood said. “I loved the first one and I loved making it too. Usually when you work on a job and you love the experience, it’s rare that the film matches the experience. You get one or the other but this was one of the few where it was all there. It was just great. I was talking to Anton the other day and he was saying that they all got together on the bridge a few weeks ago and it was just like no time had passed at all. None. I had dinner with Chris a few months ago and he said he couldn’t wait to get back with the gang of people that makes this work. The same with me. They’re wonderful people and the show is like the icing. What’s great is the family. I know it’s an overused term and people roll their eyes but it really feels that way to me.”

The “Trek” sequel was aimed for a 2012 release at one point but Abrams became caught up in “Super 8,” a passion project that was relatively small in its budget and shooting schedule but loomed large in the writer-director’s personal history. Screenwriters Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof were in a sort of holding pattern waiting for Abrams to return to Federation space.

Greenwood said it’s clear already that the project has been worth the wait: “Everybody’s got their script – all printed on red paper with every actor’s name stamped across every page — and their brown bag and we’ve all signed these releases that are as long as your leg. The script is good, as you would expect.  You won’t be given anything by anybody when it comes to the movie. It’s easier to push the building than get anything out of anyone. We have a huge stage here, I haven’t seen it. It’s exciting.”

jj abrams and michael g Star Trek sequel: A cosmic cast reunion on the Sony lot

J.J. Abrams and composer Michael Giacchino at a recent Bad Robot party. (Michael Underwood/AB Images)

About half an hour later, it was as if the entire coffee shop had been transported to Federation space; there was Pine,  Zoë Saldana (Lt. Uhura), Karl Urban (Dr. “Bones” McCoy), Yelchin and Cho all parading by out front. “Hey man, you’re back!” Pine said to Greenwood, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. Saldana chimed in with a “Welcome back!”

A moment later Greenwood came back to the seat on the patio with a big smile. “Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?”

A few days earlier, on Saturday night, J.J. Abrams hosted a party on the rooftop of Bad Robot, his production offices on Olympic Boulevard in Santa Monica, and at one end of the chilly patio there was an orchestra in scarves and winter coats sitting shoulder-to-shoulder. The reason? The event was a salute to composer Michael Giacchino with a special emphasis on his work on “Super 8.”

greenwood trek Star Trek sequel: A cosmic cast reunion on the Sony lot

Bruce Greenwood in "Star Trek" (Paramount Pictures)

The starry sky party was attended by some of the top filmmakers in the Comic-Con sector of Hollywood (Jon Favreau, Brad Bird, Joss Whedon, Frank Darabont and Kevin Smith) and actors with Abrams connections (Urban, Jennifer Garner and Elle Fanning among them) and when the orchestra played the themes of “Lost” and “Super 8″ there were plenty of smiles. When Giacchino conducted the musicians during the soaring theme from “Star Trek,” though, there were even more grins and Abrams bobbed his chin with a faraway expression. Another cosmic moment…

Principal photography started on the “Trek” sequel on Thursday. That day, by email, Lindelof answered a question I had asked him about the pressure and possibilities of this next voyage. His response was funny and revealing: “I have had the good fortune to once again step upon the Enterprise bridge, surrounded by the primary colors worn by, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest casts ever assembled. Every single person involved with this movie has the same ambition — to do everything they can to justify the long wait … to live up to the lofty expectations of 40-year ‘Trek’ fans and those who are coming to the party for the first time. The energy is crackling. The warp core is primed. And we are, at long last, ready to boldly go once again. I hope to God we don’t screw it up.”

— Geoff Boucher

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