Leaping Through Glass...
Benedict Cumberbatch: He does look a lot like me, but that’s definitely not me. This is my stunt double, bursting through a glass door. I did do this, but I did it through previously shattered glass, some of it sugar glass…
These are the other entrance doors to the CAA [The Creative Artists Agency] – sometimes called 'the Death Star' – this big building in Hollywood that houses one of the most powerful agencies in the business.
It’s a fantastic shot, and a wonderful day. I actually ran up these stairs so many times though that at one point – and it might still be in the film – my legs gave away and I just went down on my knees and slid. Before I’d even got up, I’d sort of started running, scrambling a bit like an insect. So J.J. was like, ‘Did you plan that?’ ‘No, no, no, it’s just that my legs gave up on me and I thought I better keep on fucking motoring to get up…’ So he goes, ‘That’s great, we’re going to keep it in the film!’
On Chris Pine....
Cumberbatch: Ah, Chris. He’s got something on his face, the dirty boy. Seriously though, Kirk really goes through it by the end of the film…
Alice Eve: Actually, when you spilt food on your costume on set, that was called ‘doing a Chris Pine’ because he did it that much.
Cumberbatch: He did keep doing a Pine… He’d just take a drink in his hand and forget to put his mouth to it. The boy – sorry, the man – was so tired carrying that film, I’ve got to say. He’s brilliant in it, I’m really excited to see his performance.
Eve: A lot of us in the film, especially Spock and Bones, serve as Kirk’s alter egos of logic and morality, but I do think in this film, after winning the captaincy in the previous movie, we see him earn it… spiritually, really, and sort of philosophically. Other ways than the practical earning of it.
Cumberbatch: It’s like he’s the son in the first and the father in the second, almost, don’t you think? Not as an actual father, though, that’s not a storyline at all, but I mean that he’s become a father to his crew.
With your character locked up in this way, do you feel that people will naturally draw comparisons to The Avengers, or The Dark Knight, or Skyfall?
Cumberbatch: Yep, all three of those films, and I’m quite worried about it – though they are great films, with great villains – but so what if they do? Not all of those bad guys had Enterprise costumes on, and that’s what matters. But it’s very exciting, that scene, that was a great sequence to film.
Do you feel a lot of pressure, joining this world of Star Trek, with all its legions of fans already on board?
Eve: I see fan bases as a gift, really. A wonderful thing to be able to engage with, because as actors you want to show your work… Hopefully they like it, of course, but you definitely can’t please everyone all of the time.
Cumberbatch: That way madness lies… I think that’s the thing, isn’t it? If you have an over preoccupation with perception and trying to please people’s expectations, then you can go mad. We’ve got J.J. Abrams, and he’s already beautifully cracked that nut in the first film, and I think it pleased a lot of the varying camps: people who were coming to the franchise for the first time, the J.J. Abrams fans and the Star Trek fans, so that was a big comfort to me.
It’s always a compact between me and the writers and the directors – the people who are hiring me to do the job – and if I’m making them happy, I can trust that it’ll make fans happy as well... You know, 'Sherlockies' – as they’re probably known now, after Trekkies – have a long history. Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone are huge icons, playing a character that’s been taken on by different people over 70 times – you know, it’s the most played fictional character of all time – so having done two series of that and being reasonably confident we’re doing all right with it, and I’m doing all right with him, I’m not… overly confident about this, but I’m just saying it’s something you don’t let preoccupy yourself.
Basically, what she said, but in a 1000 words.
On Simon Pegg's Scotty...
Eve: This Scottish guy!
Cumberbatch: Scotty! Where the fuck did he come from? I love him. He is brilliant.
Eve: A legend, I’d say. I did a film with him called Big Nothing before Star Trek Into Darkness, at a time when he wasn’t on such a healthy regime, and he used to do this joke before a take. What he’d do is wait for the camera guys to get ready, then stuff a whole Mars bar into this mouth, eat the whole Mars bar, swallow it, and then hear ‘Action!’ and be ready to go. And you can never get through a scene with a man who’s just inhaled a Mars bar three seconds before the camera’s started rolling, it’s just… amazing. He’s so much fun.
Cumberbatch: The thing is, he is really professional, but he’s utterly brilliant fun to work with at the same time. Marvelous to watch and work with. And Scotty coming back here for the second movie… he’s got a great role in this film.
Never jealous that he gets a lot of the comic moments?
Eve: Not when someone does it that well… You’ve got to be glad you’ve got them on board, really.
Cumberbatch: It works the other way, you know, he could be like, ‘Great, I’m just the funny guy…’ but he’s so good at it and so generous that I don’t think it matters. Speaking for myself, I had more than enough to have fun with and concentrate on, and John Harrison does have some moments of humour... There’s a scene that we showed in LA where you can see a little sprinkling of that.
Does Zachary Quinto keep any Spock tendencies off camera?
Eve: He does a little bit. I mean, poor Zach has to go in at 3am to get his ears and stuff put on, so it’s pretty heavy for him, but the thing about Quinto as a person is that he’s got a real wisdom to him that is just inherent in who he is, and so that totally lends itself to playing Spock. I think it definitely becomes a little bit more of a character trait when he’s actually in character, and also the fact that he has to walk around the set with that haircut, those eyebrows... that just pushes you in a direction where you’re retreating away from the way you’d normally behave.
Alice, what was your audition process like, compared to Benedict’s?
Eve: Mine was actually completely different to Benedict’s – mine happened over a longer period of time, much earlier on in the process. (Turning to Benedict) You were finding out at the end of December 2011, for me it was at the end of September, October I think it was...
All very civilised, really. I met J.J. a couple of times, read for him, met with him, spoke with him, and then he called me up! I was driving when he called and I got shaky, I thought I was going to crash, so had to pull over into this little car park. He kept saying all these things to me in his rather charming way and I didn’t really know what he was getting at, and this went on for, like, 10 minutes before I said, "J.J. I’m so sorry, I just have to clarify, are you offering me the job? Because before I say that I’d lay my life on the line, I will eat real live frogs for you, Sir J.J. Of Abrams, I need to know if I’d be doing it for the benefit of the job..." He goes, "Yep, I’m giving you the job. I think that’s what happening, yes." So I said, "That’s wonderful, thank you, I’d love to do it!"
On Zoe Saldana...
Cumberbatch: Zoe’s so fucking kick arse. She’s got so much confidence, so much life and soul – I don’t think it’s too much of a secret to say that Spock and I exchange blows at one point, and she appears in that scene briefly. That was the first time I’d done anything with her in person, actually. She’s just delightful, she puts everyone at ease, jokes around, gave us all new energy... she’s a force of nature, a beautiful person, really lovely.
Was there any opportunity for you to work with everyone else in the cast at one point or another?
Cumberbatch: I had nothing with Anton [Yelchin], I think, but we all crossed over in some way… there was a great family atmosphere on set.
What did you make of the memes that sprang up from the photos Simon Pegg and Zachary Quinto posted from your night in a bar in San Francisco?
Cumberbatch: Ha, that was a brilliant night. One of the best things that came out of that was a fan recasting all the guys as characters from Zoolander, one of my favourite films, bobbing our heads in the jeep, having their juice just before they spray each other with petrol and set each other alight…
Simon and Zach and Chris are pulling faces, then I’m in the background, popping up from behind Zach, this interloper having a fantastic time with these three guys from the first film, but in a good way. It was joyous, honestly. That really reminds me of what a good time we had around the film, despite how much work we had to do and the occasionally absurd hours, but never ever has anyone been happier to do all of that because we know the results are going to be fun for everyone…
For more on Star Trek Into Darkness interviews pick up the new issue of Empire magazine.