Exclusive Interview: Justin Lin Talks Star Trek Beyond

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As if Justin Lin, the director of Star Trek Beyond, didn’t have enough pressure on his shoulders already – as a newcomer to the Star Trek film franchise. Beyond, the third entry in the reboot series, arrives as the Star Trek franchise celebrates its fiftieth anniversary.

“We knew we had to create something special with this third film, to commemorate the anniversary,” says Lin. “We started by asking ourselves, ‘What is it that has made Star Trek so great for so long?’”

Lin had a nice, lucrative career directing Fast and the Furious sequels, but being a lifelong Star Trek fan, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to steer the series in an entirely new direction, which was given to him by producer J.J. Abrams, who allowed Lin the freedom to make his dream Star Trek film, within reason of course.

Last September, while Star Trek Beyond was being filmed in Vancouver, Canada, I had to chance to talk to Lin about his relationship with Star Trek and the fall of the Enterprise. Check out what he had to say in the interview below and enjoy!

What made you want to join this franchise?

Justin Lin: I’ve been watching Star Trek since I was eight, when I would watch the old television series with my Dad, and I’ve always been intrigued by the lives of the characters, both when they’re together and then away from each other, and away from the ship. I would ask myself, what happens during that time? I wanted to explore that, and I wanted to be on this five-year mission, and see what these people are like after more than two years in space together and show how being in space that long has affected them and how they react to each other.

What’s the significance of the title?

Justin Lin: It’s a word that captures the approach I wanted to take with this film, which was to explore and push, and introduce new species. When you make a film that’s based on a franchise that’s been around for fifty years, where can you take these characters that have been around so long? That was the great challenge and the discovery. Beyond is the perfect word for what we’re trying to create with this film, in terms of the characters and the themes of the story. It’s a word that seems very fitting for the Gene Roddenberry universe – it’s a word that suggests adventure, and it’s a word that can be aspiration-al, mysterious, and ominous.

What happened during your meetings with J.J. Abrams?

Justin Lin: When I met with J.J., I thought that he was going to show me a script that he already had, but he instead told me to go and be bold and make the Star Trek film I’ve always wanted to see. It was during one of my conversations with the writers, with Doug Jung and Simon [Pegg], that Simon suggested the title should be Star Trek Beyond, which we all thought was the perfect title, because it represents exactly where we wanted to go with this story, in terms of reaffirming and re-establishing, all of the elements that have made this series so great for fifty years.

What’s happened since Star Trek Into Darkness, and how does the film open?

Justin Lin: The Enterprise is halfway through their five-year mission, so they’ve been out in space for about two and a half years. When we meet the crew, they’re dealing with the effects of being on the Enterprise for this long. We wanted to show how it might not be so great being crammed into a ship for that long with the same group of people, no matter how close they are. They’re at a place where they have to reaffirm their sense of self and purpose.

How would you describe the threat the crew faces from Krall, the new villain you’re introducing in this film, played by Idris Elba?

Justin Lin: The crew faces an enemy whose goal isn’t just about personal gain, but who also harbors an almost fanatical counterpoint to what they stand for. They have to do so while they are stripped of everything they’re used to relying on, not only in a technological sense but also in how they view and interact with one another. Familiar character dynamics are upended physically, emotionally and psychologically.

What was it like to bring down the Enterprise?

Justin Lin: I wanted to put these characters in situations they’ve never been in before, forcing them to react in new ways, without being able to rely on the familiar tools that they, and the audience, have gotten used to. They lose the ship, and then they’re stranded on this wild planet, and they don’t have normal contact with each other. I wanted to take the characters out of their comfort zone.

That concludes our interview with Justin, but we’d like to thank him very much for his time. Be sure to check out Star Trek Beyond when it hits theatres this Friday!