HUGE SPOILERS LIE AHEAD FOR STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS.
Back when we did interviews for Star Trek Into Darkness a few weeks’ back, we got to have a chat with Damon Lindelof. He kindly agreed to answer a very spoiler-ific question, on the proviso that we held it back until after the film had been released wisely around the world. Which it now has. Hence, this article.
That said, here comes the big spoiler warning anyway. If you haven’t seen Star Trek Into Darkness, then we’re going to talk about one of the big spoilers of the film. Thus, we’d highly recommend not reading on.
If you have, though, then you’ll know just what we’re about to talk about. The question we put to Damon Lindelof was thus this: why choose Khan in the first place, and how important was it that his identity was protected so much in the build up to the release of the film?
And here’s his answer:
“To Khan or not to Khan was the big question we were asking ourselves coming out of the first film. Ultimately, we had to step outside ourselves as the storytellers and say if we had just gone and seen the first movie as audience members representing a range of Trek fandom from Bryan [Burk, producer], who’s kind of a newbie, but who’s familiar with the films, all the way to Bob Orci [co-writer] who has seen every episode of Star Trek ever, and written novelisations, what would we want? Would we want to see Khan in the next film? And the answer to that was we did want to see it, but it needed to be attacked from an entirely different angle that it had been attacked from before.
Most importantly, we did not want the audience going into the movie to be ahead of the crew. So if they just came across the Botany Bay, for example, Trek fans would go ‘I know who’s on that ship, and if they wake them up, it’s going to be a bad thing’. So we were like, we can’t do the story that way. So we had to introduce Khan to those characters in the same way we’re introducing them to the audience, which is ‘who is this guy, and why is he behaving the way he’s behaving?’
And that mandated that the story itself hid his identity. We were like, why would he be called something other than Khan? And that was the impulse by which our other story decision came”.
We also, incidentally, asked Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman whether the need to protect secrets meant they were inclined in any way to pen a movie that could be shot mainly on sets, away from prying location shoots. That wasn’t the case, they confirmed. But then, to be fair, a sci-fi adventure in space rarely lends itself to a Times Square shoot…!
Our original, non-spoilery interview with Damon Lindelof is here.
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