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STAR TREK

Inside Trek: The Screenplay
The characters of "Star Trek,” especially Captain James T. Kirk and his loyal but contentious First Officer Spock, are among the most instantly recognizable fictional characters created in the 20th century. But J.J. Abrams needed writers who could take these well-established personalities and reverse engineer them to get back what forged their hopes, dreams and motivations in the first place.

To do so, Abrams went straight to a team he knew could attack the story with a high-intensity, suspenseful action style and an authentic allegiance to its legacy, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, whose partnership has produced memorable screenplays for such films as "Transformers,” "Mission: Impossible III” and the current FOX show "Fringe.” Orci, in particular, has had a lifelong passion for all things Trek. "When I met Bob in high school, one of the first things I remember about him is that he had an Enterprise phone and the Bridge would actually ring!” laughs Kurtzman.

And yet, when they were approached about "Star Trek,” the duo admits they did not instantly jump at it. "We paused because we knew it would be such a huge responsibility,” explains Kurtzman. "The whole Trek universe has kind of hit a crossroads at this point and we knew that it would take a lot of thought to really engage the next generation. The challenges were a bit terrifying. But when you're scared to do something, I think you also get the feeling that there's a personal challenge there you need to meet. After our initial trepidation, we began talking to J.J. about it and then decided to just sit down and dive in.”

They did so with a die-hard commitment to following in the spirit of Gene Roddenberry's vision of an enlightened future. The pair began with a list of what they believed to be the "Star Trek” universe's greatest and most universally relatable attributes. Orci explains: "That list included the idea of a family of friends coming together; the way each character seems warm and human and real; the use of genuine humor, not parody or irony, that comes out of real situations; and then a thought-provoking story that is true science fiction, not impossible fantasy, but a vision of a future we hope humans can achieve.”

Continues Kurtzman: "There was also something we wanted to capture that's always been very specific to ‘Star Trek': men and women rising to the challenge of who they are as people by confronting what appear to be insoluble problems. Part of the irresistible fun of the original series was watching these incredibly intelligent and intriguing personalities work together and become the best of who they are. We felt that if we could take that spirit and put a fresh spin on it, you could advance the legacy of ‘Star Trek' in this movie.”

Starting from that base, Orci and Kurtzman were exhilarated by the chance to do two new things: imagine the never-before-seen youth of Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) and their development into friends and leaders; and devise the Enterprise's very first mission.

Exploring who Kirk and Spock were as adolescents helped the writers to get to the root of what has made them so consistently compelling: the idea of two wholly opposite men coming together like two lost halves and embarking on a perilous mission in a way neither one could have alone. Says Kurtzman: "It was really fascinating to think about young Spock, who is literally torn between the Vulcan and human world and, like any child, is trying to figure out where he fits in. That makes him extremely relatable. It was equally fascinating to think about young Kirk, who grows up a rebel, a kind of James Dean, while searching for his identity. When they meet at Starfleet Academy, they couldn't be more different in how they approach life, but they also each react to the similarities they see in one another. A b

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