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Alice Eve, Benedict Cumberbatch And Bryan Burk Star Trek Into Darkness Q&A
The veteran producer and two new stars talk Trek

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Cinemagoers who have been to certain IMAX screenings of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will have been treated to the first nine minutes of Star Trek Into Darkness. Paramount put on a special screening of these nine minutes to journalists in the BFI IMAX in London last Friday, and brought along Alice Eve and Benedict Cumberbatch, as well as the film's producer Bryan Burk. Below is a transcript of both video intros from J.J. Abrams and Simon Pegg (neither of whom could make it) and the Q&A with Alice, Benedict and Bryan that followed.

Alice Eve, Benedict Cumberbatch And Bryan Burk Star Trek Into Darkness Q&A

Bryan Burk: Good morning, good morning, thank you all for coming, particularly this early in the morning, to see nine minutes. JJ would be here but he’s actually back in LA still working on the rest of the film, but thank you for welcoming me. The last time I was here was actually for the premiere of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, which we also shot in IMAX. And we shot even more of Star Trek Into Darkness in IMAX and we went so far as to actually do 3D, which is nothing we’ve ever done before. So we figure, if we’re going to do it let’s figure out a way to make it special and unlike anything you’ve seen. So, that’s our goal and journey for this new film. What we’re going to show you is the first nine minutes of the film and then I’ll come up afterwards. There’s a little introduction – a few introductions – beforehand, and let’s just start there.

J. J. Abrams (in a pre-recorded intro): Hi I’m J. J. Abrams, director of Star Trek Into Darkness. I wish I could be there with you in London – glorious London, England – to present the first nine minutes of this movie to you but unfortunately I have to be in Los Angeles working on the other 111. So, I’m here trying to finish the film, but I understand that Alice Eve is there and the lovely Benedict Cumberbatch is there and Simon Pegg is there – oh, Simon’s not there? I thought he was in London? He is in London? He’s British, he said. He’s not in London? Huh. All right, well look, let’s hear what Simon Pegg’s real priorities are. Ladies and gentlemen, Simon Pegg.

Simon Pegg (in a pre-recorded intro): : Hello. I’m Simon Pegg. I play the lead character in the new film, Star Wars… (confers with someone off camera) I play a character in the new film Star Trek Into Darkness, that character, of course, being Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott. I can’t be there today to enjoy this presentation with you, sadly. Unlike Benedict Cumberbatch and Alice Eve, I have a job: my new film, The World’s End, at Ealing Studios – not too far away from you, but a little too far to come in, a galaxy far, far away. Hmm, wrong franchise...

I’m very excited about Star Trek Into Darkness. It was an absolute joy to film and to spend time with not just the original cast but the very, very busy Benedict Cumberbatch and Alice Eve, and to have a little corner where we would drink tea and watch ITV2 on the sling-box while the Americans called us quaint. This film is gonna be extraordinary. I’ve got a really good feeling about it because not only was it amazing to shoot, it just had a vibe of extreme excitement and we were very giddy during the making of it, because we were very pleased with ourselves. So sit back and enjoy these clips and, yeah, feel the force. Dammit, wrong again. Have fun, guys. Sorry I can’t be there.

Burk: Some of our UK contingent is here, some of our actors. We have the ridiculously talented Alice Eve. Somewhere we have the ridiculously beautiful and recent Golden Globe nominee Benedict Cumberbatch.

Alice Eve: Hello. Thank you all for coming. It’s really lovely for me to be able to be part of this in London and bring it home. So thank you for coming and I hope you enjoy the full-length version when it comes out.

Benedict Cumberbatch: Hear hear!

Burk: Jesus, that’s it?

Cumberbatch: I just had a long run down the stairs, I’m just getting my breath back. I hope you enjoyed it. I’ve never seen anything in IMAX or 3D until I saw this in Tokyo, but I’ve never been more excited than to see it in my home town. I just want to see more of it, I’m sure you do, probably. I hope. If we’ve done our job right. Thank you very much for coming out early to see it.

Burk: I’m told we’re gonna do a Q&A. We all work for the most secretive guy in the world, so there’ll probably be a lot more Qs than As.

When did the idea of bringing back the character Khan first surface with this movie?
'I keep reading online that we’re bringing back Khan, which is awesome.'
Bryan Burk
I keep reading online that we’re bringing back Khan, which is awesome. However, our villain is John Harrison and he’s standing beside me.

Cumberbatch: Hello.

Are you able to tell us any more about Alice’s character or anything more about Benedict’s character, particularly if he is a Starfleet officer.
Eve: I’ll speak for myself, for fear of getting shot. I play Carol Marcus who, as you know, was in the original series and also in the second movie, The Wrath of Khan. And I think you can see from that that I wear a blue costume, so... we have that. I’m a doctor, as you know, a PhD. Smarter than John Harrison.

Cumberbatch: Much, much prettier, though. I play John Harrison and I’m sure I’ll get into much more detailed conversations about him later. But, in brief, he is a terrorist, he’s a home-grown terrorist. He’s someone who does despicable things but for a noble cause and at some point in the film, hopefully, entices your sympathies as an audience. Unlike that bug which I’ve just killed, heartlessly. Hey, it’s a bug-free environment, it said so on the ticket. What else can I tell you about him? He’s a phenomenal one-man weapon of mass destruction, both at close-hand combat and with weaponry and also psychological warfare, he can get you to do his bidding. Even when he’s not seemingly in a position to have any kind of power or control… it’s a great ride, his character’s journey in this film.

How was it joining an already established cast?
Eve: We were very lucky actually, in all honesty, that we had such a welcoming group of people because, as you say, it was a sort of already established class. But they were all very kind and generous and it was a very happy experience which, if it’s not, you sort of say less. So, it really was happy and I could spend a lot more time talking about it but it might sound annoying so I’ll pass you over to Benedict.

Cumberbatch: You’ve given an industry secret away, there. Next time we’re quiet in an interview people will assume we absolutely loathed the experience we had… No, it was amazing, it was fantastic. I mean, I was playing the antagonist so, to a certain degree, it was quite hard to have to resist joining in the fun all the time. Nerve-wracking, yes, because they obviously gelled so spectacularly well from the first film and are the Enterprise crew.

Eve: You definitely joined in the fun.

Cumberbatch: No, I did, I did, I had a great time. But, you know, there were obvious moments and reasons why I shouldn’t have done, probably. But, no, they were a really enticing bunch, we’re all kindred spirits. There’s not really a movie star involved – even though they have become stars from the first film – they’re all actors and very grown-up on set but also very game and giggly and in possession of a great sense of humour. Great, great senses of humour.

I… I’m trying to think of something in particular I can tell you about, but I can’t… J.J. is extraordinary. The whole thing about him is that it is to do with family, from him as a person to him as an artist, and what he creates with the crew and the sense of jeopardy within that first nine minutes, you’ve kind of got that surmised and, whatever the spectacle, whatever the thrills of 3D and IMAX – of which there are aplenty in this film – you actually care about what happens because of the characters involved. And I think that goes for the atmosphere on set, as well. He demands a lot of you, but God you go there willingly because it’s enormous fun and he’s such a wonderful person to work for. Brian, nah, not so much…

Alice Eve, Benedict Cumberbatch And Bryan Burk Star Trek Into Darkness Q&A

Can we look forward to a third installment?
Burk: God willing, we’ll get into it soon after we finish this film. When we started working on Star Trek Into Darkness we started having conversations about what we’d be doing for the next film, so... we’ll try not to get too far ahead of ourselves.

Question to Benedict. What was the audition process like?
Cumberbatch: I did it on an iPhone. It was about this time last year – it was a little further on into that little Judeo-Christian cult that we’re getting excited about, last year. And most people here were involved in that, including the families and casting directors I was asking to help me. I had to do it with my best friend Adam, in his kitchen, with his wife videoing it on top of two chairs, crouched down, a table lamp for a little bit of ‘direct light’, as we call it in the trade. And I literally was like that for the whole of the three scenes, I think we did. Two versions of each and, I dunno, we were doing it at about 10.30pm and we stopped at midnight.

And this was because the camera I had – another person’s camera – and a couple of people I knew and was trying to get to help me all failed, so I had it on an iPhone, which was very weird. And they record to a large file, so it took me a day to figure out how to compress it and send it… Anyway, I got the answer: “J.J.’s on holiday.” Great. But thank God he came back from holiday and was happy with what I’d done and I got the news either on the second or the first of January and that’s a hell of a way to begin 2012. I was over the moon for about a nanosecond and then terrified. Because it’s a big role in a big film.

But that’s always the way, I think, when you get a job: there’s a moment of extreme elation and then, you know, you start worrying about what you’re gonna do with it. But, yeah, of course I was over the moon. Absolutely over the moon. I loved the first film, so I knew I was gonna have fun, but I didn’t quite know how much or what form it was going to take.

Can I just say to Bryan, I think Khan for the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. I think it warrants, the 50th, doing Khan.
Burk: I will pass that on to my writers.

I think every fan on this planet would want you to do Khan for the 50th. I mean, as a fanboy myself…
Burk: We’ve definitely had conversations about this. We have a couple more questions here...

How would you compare the scale and scope of this film compared to the first one?
Burk: Paramount had never spent this much on a Star Trek film before the last one, the one that came out in 2009. It was a different experience making that film because we didn’t know how people would react to it, we didn’t know how Star Trek fans would react to it, because, obviously, you know, we blew up Vulcan. And we were doing crazy things. And simultaneously we didn’t know how new fans would react to it.

But this film, we had fortunately a lot of goodwill coming out of that last film, so we decided that, if we were going to do it again, we would really step up our game and not take it lightly that we had so many people who came to the last film, and it might be the last film. So what we decided to do was really make it much bigger than the last one and unfortunately we don’t always have the financial abilities to make it bigger, so this was where J.J. really rolled up his sleeves and we all kind of got on and found new ways to do things without compromising the scope and I think the film is significantly bigger than the last film.

It’s also much easier to enter, so if people happen to have not seen the last film they can jump right in and not have a problem following it. It’s a much cleaner story, our villain, I think, is a much stronger villain – particularly going up against Kirk and the crew. And as a whole – and, you know, what you just watched was just the first nine minutes – and there’s tremendous more scope in this film and let alone character development and it really kind of takes us to another level. And we genuinely felt this throughout the whole process: if we pull this off, it’ll be significantly better than the last one.

Cumberbatch: We filmed a lot in IMAX as well, and what J.J.’s done in converting it to 3D is quite revolutionary, it’s stuff that hasn’t been used before. Even for the relatively new purists who say you have to shoot in 3D in order for the full effect to be the best it can be, I think he’s going to answer those critics with what he’s done and… I can’t talk about the previous experience, but it is a huge film. I mean, that’s the first nine minutes and already you’ve got one of the primary characters in jeopardy in the most spectacular way and it doesn’t really let up from then on in.

Burk: It’s definitely the biggest film that any of us have worked with, that J.J. and I have worked on. And I think you’ll see it as it comes along and, as Benedict was saying, with the 3D level and the IMAX and everything... They’re all new toys, particularly for J.J. and he didn’t want to do it unless we could find new ways to play with them and try new things. So we’re driving our 3D converter crazy – he’s saying “You can’t go any further!” and we keep saying “Come on, let’s go further!” and he goes “But no-one goes further than this!” and we’re like “Come on, let’s just push it a little further…” So we’re breaking a lot of rules. And having fun doing it.

Alice Eve, Benedict Cumberbatch And Bryan Burk Star Trek Into Darkness Q&A

Are you both incredibly relieved the details are going to be out in the open soon and you’re not going have to evade pesky journalists anymore?
Eve: I’m very relieved that it’s going to be all out in the open. I was told we only decided to reveal Carol Marcus last week when we had some press to do in Los Angeles. And, I think probably because, in that trailer, you see I’m in blue it would probably have been pointless to continue to deny it. And so, yeah, it’s very nice to be able to talk about the name of the character I play but we’re still sworn to secrecy regarding the story and the complications therein. So, it’s quite hard work.

'Everything’s overly waited for, with exposure and spoilers in trailers and I actually think it’s nice to have a little bit of mystique.'
Benedict Cumberbatch
Yes, is the short answer. But the thing about it is this: we live in a pretty pluralistic society, everything’s overly waited for, with exposure and spoilers in trailers and I actually think it’s nice to have a little bit of mystique. I enjoyed going to Super 8 and not knowing anything about it and I kind of, without patronizing an audience, would say it’s equivalent to giving a kid a whole box of chocolates as opposed to just a few. And they’ll enjoy the few, hopefully; if they eat the whole box they’ll throw up and forget about it. We’re not going make you throw up and forget about it with this film. Okay… What a horrible analogy.

Bryan, you mentioned shooting with IMAX cameras – can you reveal how much of the film’s shot with IMAX cameras and also what they bring to the movie?
Burk: On this we shot upwards of 40 minutes. It changes, because we’re still cutting it. It’s funny because we’ve been cutting so long on Avid and it’s very small, or we’ll screen it in very small screening rooms and then when we start watching things in IMAX it’s such a crystal clear image – let alone with 3D – that it’s done right and we’re feeling as we go along with that that we made the right choice. It starts making the image crystal clear in a way that you would not see in a normal 35 millimetre screen.

Eve: It also is so interesting to look at the IMAX camera, just ‘cause it only has 90 seconds of film on it and it runs really loudly so it’s like working, I suppose, with a child or an animal – it’s a really demanding camera to work with. So you have a sort of slightly odd relationship with it on set. And then when you see it, something that perhaps is the size of this cinema, it can make it sort of seem infinite, which was, for me, the most amazing thing about seeing IMAX come to life – the amount of scale it adds.

Burk: There are some IMAX people here so I’ll speak frankly: we hate the IMAX cameras. They’re horrible, enormous and bulky and, as Alice was saying, they’re loud and… It’s funny ‘cause we do a TV show with Jonah Nolan whose brother – Chris – did Batman and they shoot their films in IMAX as well, and during their production Jonah would excitedly phone me and tell me that Chris had destroyed one of the cameras. So, as long as we keep destroying the cameras, it’ll force IMAX to come up with new cameras that are quieter. But, I say all this because even though it’s a total pain to use the camera – and it is, I mean, they’re loud and they’re bulky and they tend to break a lot ‘cause they’re so big and machinery so old – and yet, there’s nothing that captures an image like IMAX, and it’s really worth it and it was one of those things where you’d see, like, J.J.’s frustration and waiting, whatever, then that night or the next day when we see dailies it made it all worth it.

Seeing as we are in London, could you give us some idea why J.J. wanted to start the movie there, the depiction of it and, if he did shoot here, what it was like?
Burk: We didn’t shoot here, although we would’ve liked to have shot here, and to be honest I can’t really remember whether it was originally when we were all throwing out the idea, talking about where to begin the film, I can’t remember there ever being another city other than London. And that was always kind of the jumping-off point, to start opening up the show… Obviously, the academy was in San Francisco, but we wanted to open up the film and not have it just be San Francisco.

I’ve just got a question about the IMAX again. What was the logic behind the decision to do this film in IMAX 3D?
Burk: They’re separate, IMAX and 3D. And IMAX was actually a late decision, it was something that, again, when you make these films, regardless of making a small film or a big film, whenever you’re dealing with a studio financier they say, “Here’s how much money we can afford”, and then we have to figure out how to squeeze everything we want into that box. And it was a very difficult film to figure out how to make the enormous film we wanted to make with the amount of money we had. And IMAX was off the table. We just said it was too expensive and it was something that, in order to get everything else…

And within a month before shooting, maybe six weeks at the most, once everything was feeling like it was all going to start to work, we started talking about IMAX and we brought it up again and Brad Bird had such a wonderful experience shooting Mission Impossible 4 on IMAX that we re-opened the discussion and it was something that we started doing tests on. Basically, J.J. fell in love with it and it was one of those things where we managed to get everything inside the box and we popped back out because of IMAX. But it was undeniable that we had to do it. So we figured it out. And then 3D was a different thing, because 3D was something that we did always embrace and when Jim Cameron did Avatar it was something that was like, “Oh, I can understand why everyone got excited about 3D and the way he shot it was new and different.”

But then everyone did 3D and it just became not that interesting to us, and then we started having conversations about it and we started realising that, well, we’re doing this film where a lot of it takes place in space and we could do things that other people haven’t done before, really push the limits. But then we started having conversations on how we could do it, because there were limitations to shooting film on 3D because of the way J.J. shoots. And we didn’t want to compromise. And then what you start finding out is that even though you shoot often in 3D, they all go through a conversion process anyway.

So, what we started doing was having numerous conversations with everybody and I think J.J. did meet with Jim and have conversations and we started talking about the idea of going shot by shot and frame by frame and finding out what you could do and how you could push it and why those limitations were in place and we figured, well, maybe we can break them and here’s how we can do it differently. So, they went hand-in-hand and we said, “Okay, let’s try and make the whole experience something new and different…”

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