New Stars Rise, Old Feuds Rest in 'Star Trek'

New stars usurp William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy in big screen "Star Trek."

April 30, 2009, 4:55 PM

May 4, 2009 -- "This isn't your father's 'Star Trek,'" the ubiquitous taglines say. And if you ask one of the new film's stars, he'll agree. "It will change the face of 'Star Trek,'" said Zachary Quinto, who plays the young Spock.

"Star Trek," opening in theaters May 8, reboots the iconic series by giving original stories to the main characters: Capt. James T. Kirk (played in this movie by Chris Pine); Spock (Quinto); Uhura (Zoe Saldana); Chekhov (Anton Yelchin); Bones (Karl Urban); Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Sulu (John Cho).

In an interview for ABC News Now's "Popcorn With Peter Travers," Quinto, 31, denied that Trekkies will reject the movie. If anything, he claimed, die-hard fans will embrace Jeffrey "J.J." Abrams as the director of their iconic series as long as he doesn't radically alter it.

The movie has been making headlines throughout its production. In 2007, William Shatner, the original Capt. James T. Kirk, caused a stir when he complained that Abrams didn't ask him to be in the film.

"How could you not put one of the founding figures into a movie that was being resurrected? That doesn't make good business sense to me!" Shatner told "Extra!" at a signing for his book, "Star Trek Academy: Collision Course" in November 2007.

In September 2008, Abrams talked about wanting Shatner in his iteration of "Star Trek," telling AMC that his team "tried desperately to put him in the movie." Shatner responded with a video blog posted on YouTube in which he said no one had ever reached out to him or anyone from his camp.

Now, on the eve of the movie's premiere, it appears the so-called feud was all in good fun.

"There was never a fight. It was always a good natured thing," Abrams told ABC News Radio's Dave Alpert at "Star Trek's" Los Angeles press junket.

Late last month, Shatner told "Extra!," "I wish them all the best. I certainly hope it's a great success," and offered a bit of advice to the actor taking on his role: "Chris, good luck, and hold your breath. It's going to be a whirlwind."

New and Old Trekkies Collide

At the LA press junket, Pine acknowledged that he has huge shoes to fill.

"What Mr. Shatner did will never be copied, ever. It's that specific and that unique and, clearly, that culturally iconic," he said. "I won't lie, I am definitely jealous of Zachary's relationship with Mr. Nimoy. Mr. Nimoy is just a fantastic, complicated, interesting, kind of sage-like man and I hope to in some way foster a similar relationship with Mr. Shatner."

Indeed, Quinto and Nimoy shared a close relationship through the production of the movie. It also helped that "Star Trek" isn't the first foray into sci-fi for Quinto. He's the murderous Sylar on NBC's "Heroes," a show he auditioned for the same day the first episode aired.

While promoting "Heroes," Quinto's hometown paper in Pittsburgh asked what role he would like to play. He immediately said Spock. The interview was syndicated and word got back to director Abrams. The night before his audition, Quinto and the cast of "Heroes" were at a ceremony and were presented their award by none other than Leonard Nimoy, the original Spock.

"You have no idea what you're in for, kid," Nimoy told him.

Being the first person cast in Abram's "Star Trek" was elating and stressful, he said. Once informed he got the role, he was prohibited from talking about it for a month. He had to read the script sequestered at Paramount.

After playing Spock for six months, Quinto, like his character, felt isolated, alienated and withdrawn, he said. The physical transformation he endured (the pointed Vulcan ears, his shaved eyebrows and the famous bowl cut) all apparently conspired in his alienation.

He recalled how he went to a screening with the musically talented cast, who spontaneously started to jam while he sat on the other side of the room, silently watching them. It mirrored Spock's relationship with the USS Enterprise crew; "Spock is alienated all the time and is trying to understand," Quinto said. "I like that about him."

Quinto also likes Spock's taste in music and imagines his iPod would be "pretty groovy, classic rock, maybe with a little Simon & Garfunkel and definitely Dylan."

"Star Trek" has exceeded Quinto's expectations so far. The scene with Winona Ryder was "very humbling," he said of the actress who plays his mother in the film. "That moment was incredible and to know it was the culmination of years and years of work and believing in myself when others didn't believe in me."

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