'Star Trek': New Movie, New Vision

Chris Pine, Karl Urban, ...
Image credit: Industrial Light and Magic

History may be mutable in the new Star Trek, but the old characterizations remain the same: Spock is still logical and Scotty is still bitterly complaining about the ship's overworked engines. But Abrams did feel Trek's design aesthetic — which for him is largely defined by the lo-fi original series — needed a dramatic upgrade if the drama was going to be taken seriously. Case in point: The Enterprise still has a saucer front section and pronged rear engines, but now comes tricked out with credibility-enhancing details. During turbulence, the crew can now grab handrails to keep from falling. And Abrams has given the blah cardboard bridge a makeover. It still has the oval shape, the captain's chair, the giant view screen — but it's now blazingly white and glistening with light and glass. Apple Store, anyone? ''People would joke, 'Where's the Genius Bar?''' says Abrams, somewhat defensively. ''To me, the bridge is so cool, it makes the Apple Store look uncool.''

One other essential element in Team Abrams' conception of the new Trek: getting the old Spock. Abrams felt Nimoy's Obi-Wan-ish presence was so crucial, he told the studio he wouldn't move forward without him. ''I thought Spock was behind me. I had no unfulfilled wishes,'' Nimoy says. But Abrams was persuasive. ''I felt J.J. and his writers had a very strong sense of who the characters were and how they should work. To find a team that was interested in putting it all back together was very exciting.'' Trekkers will be excited too. Nimoy's first scene in the film, screened for EW, is goose-bumpingly cool. (Negotiations with Shatner did not go as well.)

The new Spock came next, though Zachary Quinto had been all but knocking on the door for months. During the first season of Heroes, Quinto, 31, campaigned for the part by repeatedly expressing interest in it while doing press for his show. ''I saw it as a career opportunity, but I also saw it as a creative opportunity, too,'' he says. ''I have a real interest in where this character lives. I really relate to the duality of a logical mind and an emotional sensibility.'' Quinto prepped intensely for his tryout, even binding his fingers with rubber bands to train his hand for the live-long-and-prosper salute. He secured the role soon after Nimoy viewed his audition tape. ''I could see Zach had an internal life as an actor, which is important to the Spock character, because there's so little to show physically,'' Nimoy says. ''I called J.J. and immediately told him he was going to work.''

NEXT PAGE: ''I'm six-foot, I weigh about a buck sixty-five, went to private school, and grew up in the [San Fernando] Valley,'' Pine says. ''I wouldn't follow me into battle.''

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