Exclusive Interview: Karl Urban Talks Star Trek Beyond


The action-packed Star Trek Beyond, the third installment in the new franchise, finally got it right. The 2009 Star Trek rebooted the original series by introducing those iconic sci-fi characters – Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Bones (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and Sulu (John Cho) – as young upstarts joining Starfleet Command, and then cleverly skewed the timeline to create an alternate universe from the original. The 2013 follow-up, Star Trek Into Darkness, seemed to bite off more than it could chew though, with an overly convoluted plot and unnecessary throwbacks, particularly in the way they brought back Khan.

Now, with Star Trek Beyond, they’ve worked out the kinks and have delivered a solid film that is, to date, most closely attuned to the beloved 1960s series. Under the guidance of director Justin Lin (who takes over the reins from J.J. Abrams), and armed with a superb script from Simon Pegg (aka Scotty) and Doug Jung, this is an action-adventure in which the crew of the Enterprise have been on their five-year mission to keep peace in the galaxy but find themselves stranded on a remote planet where they have to stop a bad guy (with a twist to the Star Trek past) from wreaking havoc. Simple and effective.

At the recent press day for the film, we had a chance to sit down for an exclusive chat with Karl Urban, who shared his thoughts on how much he loved making Star Trek Beyond because it gave him a chance to take Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in new and exciting directions.

Urban explained his evolution of playing Bones, saying:

“Initially I felt that it was important for me to try and identify what the very essence of the character was. Which was established, and wonderfully played by DeForest Kelly. Again, I needed to identify that essence and imbue it into a younger version. It was difficult the first time around, because I did not want to do an imitation, but it had to recognizably be Bones. His irascibility and also his passion had to be there. So by the time we did the second one, I felt more comfortable, had already been established and I knew what to do.”

The actor, however, said he felt “under-utilized”in Into Darkness.

“The character wasn’t developed and that was noticed by the fans and they commented on that. Thankfully, it was rectified in Star Trek Beyond. I feel like this film represents the most dynamic version of this character that I’ve had the fortune of playing. You get to see the true value of his friendship with Kirk. Then through the sequence of events, I find myself in a fight for survival, marooned with Spock. That brings forth all these wonderful colors to the character.

You get to see his bravery, his courage, his loyalty, his humor. His irascible front that he often portrays really gets stripped away and you get to see him relate to Spock in a very human and honest way. Also, there’s all the great action stuff. He gets to fly space ships and things he’s not trained to do, so it was a very dynamic turn.”

And speaking of Kirk, Urban noted that he had a great time working with Chris Pine on the film, telling us:

“With Chris, we had a great time shooting the bar scene. It was fun trying to make each other laugh and steal the scene from each other, as you do. I’ll give you an example of that: The reaction to drinking the whiskey that I’ve stolen from Chekov, we went through about six or seven takes, both of us trying to out react each other. We’d just end up in hysterics.”

Urban also enjoyed finally working with Quinto one on one. “With Zach, I just have a huge respect for his approach to his work. It was great to get into those scenes where those characters bicker and argue,” he said.