Star Trek Into Darkness: Secondary Characters

Bones, Scotty, Chekov and Sulu:

The ship’s Old School Medical Officer, Leonard “Bones” McCoy, is also in a questioning phase — questioning the very direction that Star Fleet is taking. “He has a great degree of concern about this mission they are going on because it is more of a military mission and he believes Starfleet is at its best when its about peace and exploration,” explains Karl Urban, the action star who returns to the role after recently playing the futuristic title character of “Dredd.”

Bones’ salty sense of humor has already become a useful tool on The Enterprise for keeping Kirk and Spock from taking things, or each other, too seriously. But now, he really has his work cut out for him in that department as conflicts come to a head all over the Enterprise. For Urban, this was all part of the fun. “To me, the core of Star Trek has always been that it’s about a group of people who aren’t necessarily geared to get along perfectly with each other — but who always overcome their differences to defeat a common adversary,” he explains. “I see Bones as being at the opposite extreme of Spock. If Spock is logic, then Bones is humanism . . . and Kirk has to find the middle ground between the two to be a great captain. In “Star Trek Into Darkness” you get to see a critical juncture in that relationship as they each try to hash out how to respond to this mission.”

The ship’s boisterous engineer, Scotty, is also at a juncture in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” which thrilled English actor and comedian Simon Pegg as he returned to the role. “It was exciting to play Scotty again, because The Enterprise is becoming a real crew now. In the first film, we were just meeting up and finding our way together. Now, Scotty knows everyone better – although they’re still working out their relationships. He still calls Chekov ‘wee man,’ for example,” Pegg laughs.

But the man on The Enterprise Scotty knows best is his friend, Kirk, and the fact that he’s now a powerful ship’s captain doesn’t keep the outspoken engineer from giving him a piece of his mind – at the risk of his job. “Scotty might be chaotic and unruly, but he’s disciplined when it comes to his job. He always calls Jim ‘Captain,’ but he’s also pretty honest with him – and in this installment, they come to blows. Scotty tests him at the wrong time and suffers the result,” Pegg explains. “At the same time, there’s a real bond there. Scotty respects Kirk; he sees him as a brave, talented, intuitive captain and he likes the fact that he is his own person. When they have their big tiff, Scotty’s indignant about it . . . but he’s also ready to do whatever his captain asks of him.”

As it turns out, Scotty’s initial worries about the dangers of The Enterprise’s new mission prove to be well founded. “Scotty’s a bit of a drinker, a bit of a brawler and a bit silly some times, but he’s a damn good engineer,” remarks Pegg.

Pegg was also happy to reunite with JJ Abrams. “He’s the engine that drives this Enterprise with enthusiasm, positivity and an inventiveness that keeps everyone on their toes,” he says.

Anton Yelchin, who comes back to Enterprise as the Russian prodigy Pavel Chekov, felt similarly. “What I enjoy about J.J. is that he really cares about this world and about each character’s personal journey,” he says. “It’s fun not just to be directed by J.J. but to watch him direct.”

It is Chekov who momentarily replaces Scotty when things go awry with Kirk. “In a heated moment, Kirk and Scotty have a disagreement, and Kirk tells Chekov, ‘throw on a red shirt,’” Yelchin explains. “That was exciting. It was exciting even on a purely aesthetic level because I’ve spent one film wearing one color and now I’m in another color! But more than that it was great to play a moment where Chekov has to prove he’s ready and able to stand up and switch jobs.”

Yelchin prepared to reprise Chekov by returning to the character’s roots. “I watched and rewatched several episodes from the original series that I enjoyed Chekov in,” he explains. “I really love this character and I was so excited to be back on The Enterprise. And I love how this movie plugs in this great theme of winning versus doing what’s right – a theme that been repeated throughout literature and film history — into the humor and intelligence of the Star Trek universe.”

John Cho who once again plays helmsman Hikaru Sulu echoes that sentiment, saying: “This second movie feels really true to Star Trek’s spiritual origins in the way it approaches big ideas and questions through these familiar characters.”

For Cho, being back on the Bridge with his compatriots felt organic. “It was as if no time had passed,” he muses. “You don’t get many times in life where you have a great experience and then you get to do it all over again in an even more exciting way so it felt like a privilege.”

Carol Marcus, Christopher Pike and The Admiral

The Bridge of The Enterprise welcomes a new member on this voyage: auxiliary Science Officer Carol Marcus, who brings unwitting complications of her own. Taking on the role of the alluring physicist, based on a character introduced in prior Star Trek canon, is Alice Eve, the Oxford-educated English actress seen in “She’s Out of My League” and “Sex and the City 2.”

“We needed someone who would feel like a different flavor from the rest of the cast yet could fit in with the team in a wonderful way. She needed to be smart and fun. She needed to be sexy but really driven and determined – and Alice brought all that,” says Abrams.

Eve was ecstatic to join the crew, especially in such an intrigue-filled way. “Carol comes on to The Enterprise shrouded in secrecy,” Eve notes. “She’s a weapons specialist with a doctorate in advanced physics, so she is kind of treading on Spock’s toes a little bit. Also, Carol and Kirk immediately have a spark and Spock is there to see that, so that maybe threatens him a little.”

That troublesome romantic spark was especially fun to explore with Chris Pine as Kirk. “Carol and Kirk have a kind of Hepburn and Tracy vibe,” she muses, “with this great back-and-forth rapport. Working with Chris was phenomenal. He’s an incredibly generous guy, but I think he also carries the film beautifully.”

The Enterprise’s mentor and original captain, Christopher Pike, also plays a pivotal role in “Into Darkness,” with Bruce Greenwood returning for a moment that changes everything, especially for his young protégé, Captain Kirk. As the film begins, Pike is furious that Kirk has violated the Prime Directive – the inviolable Star Fleet rule that space travelers must not interfere in or do anything that might alter the course of another civilization – and could take away his command. “It’s only the fact that Pike loves Kirk like a son,” says Greenwood, “that allows him to make a judgment call on behalf of Kirk and Spock, even though what they did is a major transgression.”

Pike not only fires Kirk, he lights a fire under him to become a better leader. “Pike tells Kirk when you let your emotions drive your decisions you put people at risk, and you might even change the very evolution of the universe, which is unacceptable,” says Greenwood. “He tells him this because Pike knows one day he just might use his skills to save the galaxy.”

Another Starfleet commander also enters the fray in “Into Darkness” – but he may not be exactly what he seems. Taking on the dark and mysterious character is actor, filmmaker and art historian Peter Weller, known for intense roles ranging from “Robocop” to the sly serial killer drama “Dexter,” and he was intrigued by the chance to take Star Trek into a dangerous new realm of Black Ops, pre-emptive strikes and Starfleet secrets.

Weller wound up being cast for the film by providence. He just happened to be at the Bad Robot production office for a meeting about directing an unrelated television project, when Abrams was struck with inspiration. “As I was talking to him, I kept thinking hmmm, he’d be perfect for the Admiral,” recalls the director. “Later, I called him back, pitched him and he said I’m in. It was the weirdest casting accident that I can remember.”

Abrams adds: “We were lucky to get him. On the one hand, Peter is methodical and cares about every nuance and detail. On the other hand, he’s very intellectual and incredibly smart about why he’s saying what he’s saying. But he also has great instincts and once he gets comfortable with the mechanics of what he’s doing, he forgets about those mechanics and he is incredible to watch.”

Weller jumped in with both feet. “The script was fantastic,” he says. “Orci, Kurtzman and Lindelof gave me a lot of meat and with J.J.’s further honing, I think we were able to create a magnificent character. He is someone with a righteous sense of patriotism who does what he believes is correct for Starfleet. He might seem like he’s an antagonist but it’s more complex than that.”