To make the film appeal to the casual audience, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman cut down on the technical terms, increased the action, and named it simply "Star Trek" to indicate to newcomers they would not need to watch the other films. As a prequel, J.J. Abrams wanted the film tone to be optimistic in contrast to revisions like Batman Begins (2005) ("being realistic and being dark are not the same thing"), and wanted to retain the humor and sex appeal that made Star Trek (1966) a success.
Simon Pegg did not audition for the role, he simply received an email from J.J. Abrams asking if he would like to play Scotty. Pegg said he would have done this for free, or even paid Abrams to be in the movie, if he was not offered a role.
The Korean-American actor John Cho was initially uncertain about being cast as the Japanese-American officer Hikaru Sulu, but George Takei, who played Sulu on Star Trek (1966), encouraged him to take the role, as Sulu was a character who represented all of Asia.
For the space jump scene, the actors were initially filmed on harnesses, facing downward. However, they constantly passed out from the rush of blood to the head. J.J. Abrams ultimately came up with the idea of filming the actors standing on mirrors. When shot from the angle, the reflection of the sky behind the actors gave the appearance that they were actually falling out of the sky.
According to Karl Urban, film production and shooting were ULTRA-secret: "There is a level of security and secrecy that we have all been forced to adopt. It's really kind of paranoid crazy, but sort of justified. We're not allowed to walk around in public in our costumes and we had to be herded around everywhere in these golf carts that are completely concealed and covered in black canvas." No amount of precaution was enough, Simon Pegg read the script with a security guard close by, and supporting cast members like Jennifer Morrison were given scripts with only their scenes. The few people given access to the film during its highly secretive production, were Rod Roddenberry, Ronald D. Moore, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Jonathan Frakes, Ben Stiller, Tom Cruise, and Steven Spielberg.
Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and J.J. Abrams personally called upon Leonard Nimoy's home to request for his role in the film. According to Orci, the actor gave a "Who are you guys, and what are you up to?" manner before being told how important he was to them. He was silent, and Nimoy's wife Susan Bay Nimoy told the creative team that after their conversation he had remained in his chair, emotionally overwhelmed by his decision to return as Spock, after turning down many opportunities to revisit the role. He decided to act in this film, as he was turned on by the script's scope, and its detailing of the characters' histories: "We have dealt with Spock being half-human and half-Vulcan, but never with quite the overview that this script has of the character's entire history, his character growth, his beginnings, and his arrival into the Enterprise crew."
According to the DVD audio commentary, J.J. Abrams had a meeting with George Lucas. During the meeting, Abrams asked how he could make the film better, to which Lucas stated that he should add lightsabers. Abrams understandably did not, but he later directed Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015), which had plenty of appropriate lightsaber action.
In the scene where Kirk is taking the Kobayashi Maru test, he is eating an apple, which is also what he is eating while recounting his tale of taking the Kobayashi Maru test in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). (According to Director J.J. Abrams in the DVD audio commentary, this was not intended to be a reference to The Wrath of Khan. At one point, he was simply told that lead actors seem cocky eating apples.)
In a British interview with Edith Bowman on BBC Radio 1, Matt Damon mentioned that he called J.J. Abrams when he heard rumors that he was being considered for the role of Captain Kirk. The response from Abrams was a very polite "no". He explained that Damon was "too old" for the role.
There is a supposed "odd-numbered movie curse" associated with the Star Trek films in which the odd-numbered films tend to be weaker and the even-numbered ones tend to be stronger. This curse was supposedly proven false with the poor reception of film ten, Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) This Star Trek (2009) film is the eleventh film. A few years before, Simon Pegg's character on Spaced (1999) joked that every odd-numbered Star Trek film being "shit" was a fact of life. Pegg noted: "Fate put me in the movie, to show me I was talking out of my ass."
To perform Scotty's accent, Simon Pegg was assisted by his wife Maureen Pegg, who is from Glasgow. However, later Pegg said Scotty was from Linlithgow and wanted to bring a more East Coast sound to his accent, so his resulting performance is a mix of both accents that leans towards the West sound. He was also aided by Tommy Gormley, the film's Glaswegian First Assistant Director.
According to John Cho, after filming ended, J.J. Abrams gave the cast small boxes containing little telescopes, which allowed them to read the name of each constellation this was pointed at: "I think he just wanted each of us to look at the stars a little differently."
Winona Ryder, who plays Spock's mother Amanda, is only six years older than Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock, and is twenty-four years younger than Ben Cross, who plays her husband. Ryder was cast in the role (instead of an actress who was actually old enough to be Quinto's mother) because the movie originally was to start with a scene of Amanda giving birth to Spock, but that scene was cut.
To prepare for his role as Spock, Zachary Quinto grew his hair longer and dyed it, and shaved his eyebrows. He claimed that the change in appearance cemented his performance: "I just felt like a nerd. I felt like I was twelve again, you look back at those pictures, and you see the bowl cut. I was sporting that look for a good four or five years. There's no question, I was born to play Spock."
The crew on the U.S.S. Kelvin use communicators that were of the same style used on the original series. You can see this, when the engineer comes into frame, and when Kirk's wife is contacting him during the evacuation of the ship. After Nero changes the timeline, and starts the alternate universe, the communicators change drastically.
Chris Pine described his first audition as being awful, mainly because he could not take himself seriously as a leader. He was fortunate, in that J.J. Abrams did not see his first audition, and readily agreed to another one after Pine's agent bumped into Abrams' wife and pushed for his client.
On the original Star Trek (1966) series, props used on the set (notably McCoy's medical scanner) were actually salt shakers doubling as futuristic equipment. In the 2009 movie, after picking (and losing) a bar-fight on Earth, Kirk (Chris Pine) sits at a bar table. Licking his wounds, he lifts a small metal model of a starship off the table. As he fidgets with it, you can see it's in fact a salt shaker - there's an "S" on the dish portion of the ship's hull, and when Kirk turns it over, salt streams out.
While most Trekkies will have known this detail for decades, this is the first time that Uhura has been given a first name on-screen: Nyota. Gene Roddenberry never came up with a first name for her while Star Trek (1966) was in production. A few years later, someone pointed out to him that Nyota is the Swahili word for star, and the name Nyota Uhura is often used in printed Star Trek literature, including the DC Comics publication "Who's Who in Star Trek".
Just before he died in 1991, Gene Roddenberry was asked in an interview what was to become of Star Trek in the future. He replied that he hoped "some bright young thing would come along and do it again, bigger and better". The critical and commercial consensus about this film, would seem to indicate that Roddenberry's wish came true, in the shape of J.J. Abrams.
Scotty makes some reference to finally understanding how, during "warp speed" travel, it is in fact space which is traveling around the ship, and not the ship moving through space. This coincides with present day theories on how faster than light travel, if possible, may actually work. The same idea is shown on Futurama (1999) when Cubert Farnsworth, young clone of Professor Hubert Farnsworth, explains how functions the starship Planet Express.
SERIES TRADEMARK: (Sherlock Holmes) For the second time in a Star Trek movie, Spock (Zachary Quinto) quotes Sherlock Holmes's famous mantra, "If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." Spock (Leonard Nimoy) uses the same line in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), where he refers to Holmes, without naming him, as "an ancestor of mine". Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner) also made several references to Holmes, including this line on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987).
Simon Pegg described Scotty as a Scot stereotype, but a positive one ("Scots are the first people to laugh at the fact that they drink and fight a bit"), and that Scotty comes from a long line of Scotsmen with technical expertise, like John Logie Baird and Alexander Graham Bell.
Leonard McCoy mentions joining Starfleet after his divorce. This refers to D.C. Fontana's (one of the Star Trek (1966) writers) backstory for McCoy written for the third season, but never filmed. That unused subplot established this failed marriage, and also McCoy's daughter Joanna.
During the scene where the cadets are assigned to their starships, Uhura complains to Spock that she has been assigned to the Farragut. In Star Trek lore, the Farragut is the ship, to which Kirk was assigned, after graduating from the Academy, and before his promotion to Captain of the Enterprise. It's named after Admiral David G. Farragut, who coined the famous phrase "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"
According to Simon Pegg, J.J. Abrams wanted to emphasize the size of the ship, and gave the Engine Room a highly industrial appearance. He explained to Pegg that he was inspired by Titanic (1997), which depicted "a sleek ship with an incredible gut".
This movie marks the film debut of Zachary Quinto, who was best known as Sylar on the television series Heroes (2006), which has included several references to Star Trek, and featured George Takei (Hikaru Sulu) in the recurring role of Kaito Nakamura (whose limousine's license plates read "NCC-1701").
Zoe Saldana never saw Star Trek (1966), but agreed to play the role of Uhura after J.J. Abrams had complimented her previous performances ("For an actor, that's all you need, that's all you want: to get the acknowledgment and respect from your peers."). However, Saldana's mother was a huge Star Trek fan, and sent her voice mails during filming, giving advice on the role.
At the Spike TV 2009 Scream Awards, Star Trek won for best movie. William Shatner accepted the award, despite having absolutely nothing to do with the movie. In the acceptance speech, he jokingly accepted this as director of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) (widely regarded as the worst Star Trek movie).
Some scenes of Leonard Nimoy and Eric Bana required that part of their bodies be animated. Nero received extensive damage to his teeth, which was significant enough to completely replace Bana's mouth in some shots. For Spock Prime's first scene with Kirk, Nimoy's mouth also had to be completely reanimated. The filmmakers had filmed Nimoy when he re-recorded his lines so they could rotoscope his mouth into the film, even recreating the lighting conditions, but they realized they had to digitally recreate his lips, because of the bouncing light created by the campfire.
McCoy refers to his divorce, saying all his wife left him was "his bones", suggesting this is where his nickname comes from. In fact, in the nineteenth century, doctors were often called "sawbones", due to their unpleasant duty of amputating injured limbs.
Roberto Orci drew on his personal relationship with Alex Kurtzman as a basis for the relationship between James T. Kirk and Spock: "We're from different worlds. I was born and lived in Mexico City until I was nine, and Alex was born in the U.S. Kirk and Spock are opposites from two worlds. That's us in a nutshell. We're drawn to each by what each of us lacks. This film is about two guys who are such opposites that they might end up strangling each other, but instead they bond and thrive together." Inspiration also came from the friendship of The Beatles members John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Karl Urban is a longtime self-described "religious" Star Trek (1966) fan. He used to watch the series on Saturday mornings in New Zealand with his father. Shortly before word came down about the development of this film, he bought the complete series on DVD and watched them with his son.
When Spock Prime meets Kirk in the cave on Delta Vega, he introduces himself by saying "I am Spock". "I Am Spock" was the title of Leonard Nimoy's second autobiography, the first being "I Am Not Spock".
The film's teaser trailer (welders working on the half-built starship Enterprise, amidst narration from U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock) was personally directed by J.J. Abrams. Real welders were brought in to film the trailer. The words of Spock and Kennedy were taken from the 1960s (the decade where Star Trek (1966) began) and thus linked past and present, enhancing the film (as well as hinting at the time-travel). According to Roberto Orci, Kennedy's words were also chosen as he was the one who started the "space race", and so would be appropriate for a space film: "If we're going to have a Federation, it makes sense for Kennedy and his words to be in there."
J.J. Abrams' "good luck charm" Greg Grunberg had to turn down a role in this film due to other commitments. However, Grunberg was worked into the movie during post-production, voicing James T. Kirk's stepfather.
During filming, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman asked Leonard Nimoy to voice the title character in their next scripted film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), directed by Nimoy's relative-by-marriage Michael Bay. According to them, Bay was nervous about approaching a high-profile relative to carry out a minor voicing role. However, Nimoy had voiced the robot Galvatron in The Transformers: The Movie (1986), and was enthusiastic about doing another Transformers film. Unfortunately, Nimoy had other commitments. However he is credited in this film as "Spock Prime", as a tribute to the Transformers (whose figurehead is the heroic Autobot Optimus Prime). Nimoy would later go on to voice Sentinel Prime in Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011).
The transporter beams are normally seen to speckle and sparkle in Star Trek (1966), but in this film, the beams swirl and flow. J.J. Abrams conceived this redesign, to emphasize the transporters as beams that can pick up and move people around, rather than a signal of people's scrambled atoms that can go anywhere.
On the DVD behind the scenes feature, it was revealed that in some scenes, J.J. Abrams would physically shake the camera to give the feeling that the scene was shot with a hand-held camera. The visual effects crew also set up a motion capture rig, so that an operator could physically shake the camera for CGI shots. Both techniques can be seen most noticeably in the space jump scene, where the camera shakes to give the appearance of turbulence from being in free fall with the away team.
Zachary Quinto was attracted to the role of Spock as he wanted to explore the character's dual heritages, and his position of being caught between both Earth and Vulcan cultures: "He is constantly exploring that notion of how to evolve in a responsible way, and how to evolve in a respectful way. I think those are all things that we as a society, and certainly the world, could implement."
The actors playing the Romulans spent two to four hours applying make-up. Three prosthetics were applied to the ears and foreheads, and Eric Bana had a fourth prosthetic applied for the bite mark on his head. The actors also shaved their heads, in order to differentiate them from Vulcans. Previous series designed the Romulans with ridged brows.
Costume Designer Michael Kaplan wanted aged, worn, and rugged clothes for the Romulans, because of their mining backgrounds, and found some greasy looking fabrics at a flea market. Kaplan tracked down the makers of those clothes, who turned out to be based in Bali, and commissioned them to create his designs.
The audio effects were designed by Sound Effects Technician Ben Burtt, who is noted for his work on Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). To recreate the sounds of photon torpedoes and warp drive, Ben Burtt capped a long spring against a contact microphone, and mixed in the sound of cannon fire. To give a musical hum to the sounds of warping and transporting, Burtt used a 1960s oscillator.
Like his predecessor in the role of Russian Starfleet officer Pavel Chekov, Walter Koenig, Anton Yelchin is also the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants (Koenig's parents were from Lithuania; Yelchin's from Leningrad/Saint Petersburg).
Despite being huge Star Trek (1966) fans, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci were initially very nervous about accepting the assignment to pen this film. They both felt that expectations were too high amongst the fanbase.
In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Zachary Quinto mentioned that he had heard of the reboot of Star Trek, and was extremely keen to play the role of Spock. The article was widely circulated, and came to the attention of J.J. Abrams, who was very interested in talking to the actor. For his audition, Quinto wore a blue shirt, and flattened down his hair.
DIRECTOR_TRADEMARK(J.J. Abrams): [Kelvin]: The U.S.S. Kelvin, the ship, on which Kirk's father serves, is named after Abrams' grandfather, and her hull number of NCC-0514 is derived from the man's birthday. This was also a scientific reference towards the temperature scale Kelvin, which itself was named after physicist and engineer Lord Kelvin. Abrams commonly uses this name in his work, such as "Kelvin Inman" from Lost (2004), and "Kelvin Gasoline" from Super 8 (2011).
According to J.J. Abrams, the difficulty of depicting the future in the film was that much of modern technology was inspired by Star Trek (1966) and made it seem outdated. Therefore, the production design had to be consistent with the original series, but also feel more advanced than the real world technology developed after it: "We all have the iPhone that does more than the communicator. I feel there's a certain thing that you can't really hold onto, which is kind of the kitschy quality. That must go, if it's going to be something that you believe is real."
According to scientist Hugh Everett, creator of the theory about parallel universes, the original Star Trek (1966) timeline would not disappear with Spock's and Nero's time travel (which creates a new continuity). This would continue existing in a parallel dimension, unaffected by the current timeline.
Karl Urban was cast at his first audition, which was two months after his initial meeting with J.J. Abrams. He said he was happy to play a role with lots of comedy, something he had not done since The Price of Milk (2000), because he was fed-up of action-oriented roles.
Spock Prime and Nero both travel back in time from the future year of 2387 - eight years after the events depicted in Star Trek: Nemesis (2002). Using the Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) based Stardate format would put this time period between Stardates 64000 and 65000.
The outdoor scene on Vulcan viewed by Spock's mother, Amanda (Winona Ryder), is based on multiple repetitions of the iconic profile of the Vasquez Rocks Natural Park Area just north of Los Angeles along California Highway 14. The rocks have a highly recognizable weathered peak that rises at a 45 degree angle to the horizon. Nine episodes of the original series, including Star Trek: Shore Leave (1966), Star Trek: Arena (1967), Star Trek: The Alternative Factor (1967), and Star Trek: Friday's Child (1967), had scenes filmed in this area.
This is the first time in Star Trek that the Stardate corresponds to the year in which the story takes place: Nero travels back in time from 2387 to 2233 and most of the proceedings take place in the year 2258.
While arguing with Kirk, Spock says "I'm aware of my responsibilities, Mister." His protégé Lieutenant Saavik says the same thing in the simulator (to Mr. Sulu) at the beginning of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982).
The concept of different-colored uniforms to indicate crew members' functions was inspired, in part, by the working uniforms of aircraft carrier flight deck personnel. Different-colored jerseys provide instant visual indication of each crew member's area of responsibility. This is essential because of the extreme noise and constant danger of flight operations. Also, the original Star Trek (1966) series aired when color television was still fairly new, so the brightly colored uniforms added a futuristic look to the series.
Prior to this film, the highest-grossing Star Trek film ever made was Star Trek: First Contact (1996) with a worldwide gross of one hundred forty-six million dollars. This film exceeded that gross by its second weekend of U.S. release alone.
Carol Marcus, Kirk's old love interest and mother of his son from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), featured in an early draft of the script as a childhood friend of Kirk's in Iowa, but the role was cut by the final draft. She would eventually appear in the next movie, Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013). Nurse Chapel from the original series also is referenced in the film, and has a line of dialogue: Dr. McCoy calls orders her to prepare a medication after Kirk's hands begin to swell, and she responds, "Yes, sir!" However, she does not appear on-screen.
The Beastie Boys, whose song "Sabotage" is featured in the film, had referenced Star Trek (1966) in their songs "Intergalactic", "Ch-Check It Out", and "Brouhaha". "Sabotage" itself was often a word William Shatner said with his with accented cadence on the series.
SERIES TRADEMARK: (47) Continuing the tradition of including the number 47 in some way into a Star Trek feature, the transport shuttle for new recruits leaves from Shipyard 2-1A (SFC Division: Sector 47). Further, Uhura picked up a transmission that forty-seven Klingon ships had been destroyed by the Narada.
Due to the confidentiality and secrecy of the movie's production, various fake working titles were used. The official one chosen by Bad Robot Productions was "Corporate Headquarters", but, also, each of the Key Assistant Location Managers chose additional fake titles for paperwork, permits, and signage. Kathy McCurdy named the movie "Untitled Walter Lace Project" after her grandfather, Steve Woroniecki named this "Untitled Blake Allen Project" after his son, Golden Swenson used "Christa & Christan's Big Adventure" after his twin step-daughters, and Scott Trimble used "The Ernest Castelhun Chronicles" after his great-granduncle who had drowned in beer at the Anheuser-Busch factory in 1937.
Nero is an amalgamation of the same-named emperor from ancient history and Jules Verne's Captain Nemo from "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and "The Mysterious Island". He is thus a self-absorbed commander of the Narada (Nautilus) with second-in-command Ayel (Aronnax) from a lost Romulan (Roman) Empire, seeking revenge against the Federation (England) for the destruction of his home and family with the use of extremely advanced technology. As well, before the Federation is aware of the origin of the distress signals, a fleet is sent, with starship U.S.S. Farragut among them. In Verne's novel, Captain Farragut is in command of the expedition to track the "sea monster" which ends up being Nemo's submarine. Captain Nemo had also been previously taken captive on the prison colony Rura Pentha. Nero had been a prisoner in a Klingon prison, from which Uhura boasts that she has intercepted a transmission. This prison was also identified in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) as Rura Penthe.
During the Starfleet shuttlecraft hangar scene, a forklift with very unusual wheels is visible. This is a production forklift, not a movie prop. The conical rollers around the wheels allow this to move in any direction at any rate of rotation.
In the trial against Kirk for cheating on the Kobayashi Maru test, when he demands to face his accuser and Spock stands up, Spock performs what is informally known as "the Picard maneuver", pulling down the hem of his shirt. In the manner of Sir Patrick Stewart in his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987).
The visual effects team developed a program that would realistically portray what an explosion in space would look like (short blasts sucking inward, leaving debris floating). For shots of an imploding planet, the same program was used on a greater level, but the animators had to manually composite multiple layers of rocks and wind sucking into the planet.
The canonical tie-in comic "Star Trek: Countdown" establishes several tie-ins with the prime Star Trek (1966) timeline years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), including details that Geordi LaForge helped design the Jellyfish, the ship Spock pilots, and that the Narada's immense size and formidable weapons technology is the result of the Romulans using stolen Borg technology to weaponize the Narada after Romulus' destruction. This small plot point was also intended to explain how the Narada was able to remain spaceworthy after the Kelvin's impact and destruction - Borg technology has the ability to regenerate, albeit very very slowly in the absence of a collective of drones.
Kirk, Sulu, and Olson "space-jump" from Pike's shuttle to the Romulan energy drill. Kirk's first scene in Star Trek: Generations (1994) was supposed to show him performing a similar orbital skydive; the scene was filmed, but cut from the final film.
On the television series, Romulans are usually presented with V-shaped ridges on their foreheads, but in this film, they do not have such features. This was because Neville Page wanted to have Nero's crew ritually scar themselves, forming keloids resembling V-ridges; but the idea was unfortunately not pursued enough, and was abandoned.
On the ice planet Delta Vega, Scotty says he tested the transporter on Admiral Archer's prized beagle. This refers to Captain Jonathan Archer on the prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise (2001), who had his beagle named Porthos aboard the Enterprise NX-01.
Production Designer Scott Chambliss used the layout of the Enterprise bridge from Star Trek (1966), but gave it brighter colors to reflect the optimism of Star Trek. (J.J. Abrams quipped that the redesigned bridge "made the Apple Store look uncool"). The iconic viewscreen was altered to a window that could have images projected on it, to make the space more tangible. At Abrams' behest, more railings were added to the bridge, to make it look safer, and the set was built on gimbals, so its rocking motions when the ship accelerates and is attacked was more realistic.
The film has its roots in the 1968 World Science Fiction Convention, where Gene Roddenberry declared he would make a film prequel to Star Trek (1966). The concept would not be heard until the late 1980s, between Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). David Loughery wrote a script titled "Star Trek: The Academy Years", which was shelved, due to objections from the original cast and the fanbase. Finally, in 2005, after the failure of Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), and the cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise (2001), development got underway. Another novel treatment of the beginnings of Kirk's command of the Enterprise, was described in the novel "Enterprise: The First Adventure" by Vonda N. McIntyre, which was based upon a Star Trek movie script that was to be used, once a contract could not be reached with the original cast after the first set of movies were made.
In designing the Romulan ship Narada, Scott Chambliss was heavily influenced by Art Nouveau Architect Antoni Gaudí, who created buildings that appeared to be inside out. By making the ship's exposed wires appear like bones or ligaments, this would create a foreboding atmosphere.
James Kyson was interested in the role of Hikaru Sulu, but the producers of Heroes (2006) were not keen on having two of their leading cast members away for three months (Zachary Quinto being the other).
Of the now thirteen films, this was the most expensive Star Trek film as of 2009, at an estimated one hundred fifty million dollars. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) had a budget of forty-six million dollars, and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) had a budget of sixty million dollars.
There is a scene in which cadets are boarding shuttle craft inside a huge, cavernous hangar. This hangar is real, one of two giant blimp hangars located at Marine Corps Air Station Tustin, in Tustin, California. The base is now operated by the Orange County Sheriff's Academy, and consists mostly of cadet housing.
The film was shot in 2.35:1 anamorphic Panavision, which is Director of Photography Dan Mindel's preferred format (he shot J.J. Abrams' previous film, Mission: Impossible III (2006), in Panavision as well). To take full advantage of the format, Mindel caught as many lens flares (a photographic effect where light sparkles everywhere) in the film as possible, to create a sense of wonder that enhanced the film: "There's something about these flares, especially in a movie that potentially could be incredibly sterile, and overly controlled by CGI, that's just incredibly unpredictable and gorgeous." He would create flares by shining a flashlight or pointing a mirror at the camera lens, or using two cameras (and therefore two lighting set-ups) simultaneously.
During the sequence where Chekov attempts to input his authorization code for the shipwide broadcast, the computer rejects his pronunciation of the ICAO phonetic letter "V", which is "Victor", as he pronounces this "Wiktor" due to his thick Russian accent. This is a tribute to both Walter Koenig's original performance as Chekov, as well as Anton Yelchin's father, Viktor Yelchin.
In reference to Scotty's mention of the transporter experiment with Admiral Archer's beagle, Alan Dean Foster wrote a scene in the novelization, in which the dog materializes on the transporter pad and walks down the corridor.
A character from Kirk Prime's past who does not appear in the film is Gary Mitchell, who was prominently featured in Star Trek: Where No Man Has Gone Before (1966), the first filmed (but not first aired) adventure of Kirk. Mitchell was described as Kirk's best friend at Starfleet Academy, and studied in a class that Kirk taught, while he was a Lieutenant. Since Kirk lept from Cadet to Commander in this version, and never taught a class, he will probably never meet Mitchell, either.
The San Francisco skyline, as seen from the Starfleet Academy grounds, contains the distinctive Transamerica Pyramid building. Although it is now San Francisco's tallest skyscraper, it is nearly lost among taller "future" buildings.
In a deleted scene, Nero is interrogated by a Klingon on the prison planet Rura Penthe, and escapes. This is the planet that played a huge role in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). In that movie, Chekov called Rura Penthe "the alien's graveyard", as aliens from across the galaxy, that had been convicted by the Klingons, were sent there to work in the dillithium mines, and life expectancy for a prisoner there was at most, one year.
In early drafts of the script, Delta Vega was originally written as a desert planet, rather than a snow planet, which was more in line with the planet of the same name seen in the original series second pilot, Star Trek: Where No Man Has Gone Before (1966).
Make-up Artist Barney Burman supervised the make-up for the aliens in the film. His team had to rush the creation of many of the aliens, because originally, the majority of them were to feature in one major scene (to express the variety of life in the universe). However, towards the end of filming, J.J. Abrams deemed the scene too similar to the Star Wars: Episode IV cantina sequence, and decided to dot the designs around the film.
With four Academy Award nominations each, this film and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) have the most nods for any Star Trek film. This is the first Star Trek film to receive a nomination for Best Visual Effects since Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and the first in the entire series to win an Oscar (Best Make-up).
Russell Bobbitt tracked down a model of the original tricorder from Star Trek (1966) and brought this to the set, but the actors found this too large to carry for filming action scenes, so Technical Advisor Doug Brady redesigned this to be smaller.
FRANCHISE TRADEMARK: (Vasquez) A reference was made to the inclusion of Vasquez Rock to the Vulcan landscape. However, this was not mentioned that in the cave when Kirk is first carrying on a conversation with the original Spock, a scene pans past a miniature model of Vasquez Rock inside the cave to Spock's left in the scene frame.
One of the drinks that Uhura orders in the bar scene is a Cardassian sunrise. In the original timeline, the Cardassians were a humanoid species from the Alpha Quardant, natives of the planet Cardassia Prime, who eventually became enemies of the United Federation of Planets, and the Klingon Empire, in the twenty-fourth century. Although the species itself did not feature on Star Trek (1966), nor any of the subsequent original series-related movies, it is assumed that first contact with the Cardassians had already been made during the original series era, explaining the availability of one of their beverages on Earth.
McCoy says "I may throw up on you" which is repeated later in the film by Kirk. This is also a subtle throwback to the pilot episode of "Lost" (2004) in which Kate says the same thing as she sews up Jack's wound. That episode was directed by JJ Abrams.
The U.S.S. Enterprise was originally redesigned by Ryan Church using features of the original, making this 1200 feet (370 meters) long. However, this was later scaled up by a factor of 1.94 to 2,357 feet (718 meters) to make it seem grander.
Early in the film, when McCoy is getting Kirk to the Enterprise, they board a shuttlecraft named "Gilliam". This may be a reference to Dawn Gilliam, a Script Supervisor for the film. She was responsible for maintaining the film's internal continuity, and for tracking the production unit's daily progress in shooting the film's screenplay.
At first, many fans expected this movie would be a prequel to the original Star Trek (1966) series, set several years before the events of Star Trek: The Cage (1986) and Star Trek: Where No Man Has Gone Before (1966). However, due to the time travel plot device, the film and its sequels, are now set in an alternate timeline that is separate from the original timeline (which is depicted in the previous five out of six television series, and ten movies. Star Trek: Enterprise's timeline remains uneffected). This current timeline and cinematic universe was initially nicknamed "Alternate Timeline", "Abramsverse" (after J.J. Abrams), and "Alternate Original Series", but it was officially named "Kelvin Timeline" in 2016 by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda, long-time collaborators on the series. "Kelvin" is a clear reference to the destruction of the U.S.S. Kelvin in the beginning of the movie, which is the point in time where the two universes diverged.
In many of the bridge scenes, there is a blonde woman wearing black slacks in the background. Many fans speculate that this is Elizabeth Dehner, who appeared in Star Trek: Where No Man Has Gone Before (1966).
According to an article in Cinefex magazine, one idea regarding the look of the Narada, stemmed from the idea that being pulled through the black hole time warp caused a "mutation", causing the once simple mining ship to grow the long and jagged prongs one sees when she first emerges.
Although the first Star Trek film to pass the one hundred million dollar mark outside the U.S., the film continued the franchise's tradition of only earning a third of its worldwide total gross outside the U.S. By contrast, the average blockbuster makes around two thirds of its total gross outside the U.S. Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) and Star Trek Beyond (2016) broke with this tradition, earning most of their incomes outside the U.S.
IDW published a comic prequel series titled "Star Trek: Countdown" that fleshed out Nero's backstory and the reasons for Spock Prime's involvement. This also features characters from the last films and television series, serving as a tie-in between the two periods.
The set used for the long dark corridor on the Delta Vega Federation outpost, appears to be the same one (or very similar to the one) used for the Dharma station The Staff on Lost (2004), first seen in the season two episode Lost: Maternity Leave (2006). J.J. Abrams, of course, was deeply involved in both.
Actor Bruce Greenwood (Captain Christopher Pike) played the lead role in Thirteen Days (2000) as John F. Kennedy, who is widely regarded as the President who challenged the United States to venture into space in the 1960s (which resulted in man's landing on the moon in 1969).
When Kirk, Sulu, and Olsen dive into the Vulcan atmosphere, Kirk is wearing a blue spacesuit. A nod to a deleted scene from Star Trek: Generations (1994), where Kirk is wearing a blue spacesuit, and dives into Earth's atmosphere.
When Kirk and Bones are departing for Starfleet Academy on the shuttle, the starship that is being built in the site they depart from is the Enterprise. You can see the ships NCC-1701 symbol on the thrusters as they fly away.
The design of the U.S.S. Enterprise was influenced by the sleek modernist work of 1960's artist Pierre Cardin, and the realistic sets from the landmark science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
The first shot of Uhura and Spock in the Starfleet Academy shuttlecraft hangar shows them standing in front of a computer display. The silver metal knob on its bezel is a Griffin PowerMate, a USB device for controlling software functions on Macs and PCs.
The first original series film to be rated PG-13 in the U.S., and 12 in the UK. All of the other films starring the original series cast were rated PG in the U.S., and 12 in the UK, respectively, except for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), which was rated G in the U.S., and a U in the UK, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), which originally received a 15 certificate (it has since been reclassified by the BBFC as a 12).
Leonard Nimoy's participation as Spock Prime in this film, was to connect it with the original series and the feature films, establishing that the original timeline that Spock came from, was the same timeline as the original series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and the previous films from 1979 - 2002, and the scene which both incarnations of Spock meet was written, for Leonard Nimoy to pass the torch to Zachary Quinto.
Fans of this film were confused about it, and believed this was a prequel to the original series. In the original timeline, Captain Kirk's father did not die when Kirk was born, and Vulcan was not destroyed. This film, and all following films, are set in an alternate timeline.
The first teaser trailer and posters for this film showed its original release date, December 25, 2008. On February 13, 2008, Paramount Pictures pushed this film to May 8, 2009, so this would have less competition, and be a summer blockbuster contender. The teaser trailer was then amended to show Summer 2009.
In Star Trek history, the atmosphere on Vulcan is meant to be thinner than the atmosphere on Earth, yet they perform a parachute jump which involves opening the parachute at high altitude, where the atmosphere would even thinner. This would not cause enough drag to safely slow down and land without injury. However, the equipment that they were using, had been adjusted for the difference in planetary atmospheres.
Eighteen Council Members, and one Stenographer are convened, for the Honor court scene. Only five Council Members are given clear name plates. Admiral Richard Barnett, Admiral James Komack, Admiral Gretchen Lui, and Lieutenant Alice Pearl Ives, played by Patricia Milano. The fifth is Admiral Neville Chandra, a character that refers to a generational link to the episode Star Trek: Court Martial (1967), that is an inspiration for the scene.
First big screen reboot for Rachel Nichols in the small role of Uhura's Orion roommate Gaila. Rachel Nichols would later star in the remake, Conan the Barbarian (2011) in the lead female role of Tamara. In both films, Nichols' characters are seduced by the lead male characters James T. Kirk and Conan, whose mother or father are killed by the film's main antagonists when they are born.
Star Trek projects have a habit of including the number forty-seven in random figures, stardates, and registry numbers. This tradition continues here, when Nero destroys forty-seven Klingon ships, before the Kobyashi Maru scenario.
Pike challenging Kirk to join Starfleet and explore his potential. There was an arc in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) (TV Series) which a mysterious extra terrestrial called The Traveler played a part in Wesley Crusher's destiny and saw his potential in Starfleet and inspired Captain Picard to grant permission from Starfleet Command to make Wesley an acting ensign aboard the USS Enterprise which he later was promoted to a full ensign and was accepted in Starfleet Academy.
Besides the Star Trek reboot series, J.J. Abrams has also directed several entries in the Mission: Impossible movie franchise. Star Trek and Mission: Impossible both originated as TV series produced by Desilu Studios (later Paramount Television) which debuted in the fall of 1966. Leonard Nimoy, in addition to his Star Trek role as Spock, starred on the Mission: Impossible TV series for two seasons, 1969-71.
Not the first time that bright spotlights have pointed straight into camera on the bridge of the Enterprise. The first shots on the Enterprise bridge in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) show bright white spotlights, though with far less lens flare.
To add a sense of realism to the film, J.J Abrahms would often follow the camera operator and shake/tap it rapidly. To replicate that in the CG shots, ILM used motion capture on a camera point and tap the desk it was sitting on.
Rachel Nichols previously starred in Dumb and Dumber: When Harry Met Lloyd (2004) which is a prequel to Dumb and Dumber (1994) which in that film Rachel Nichols's character flirts with teenage Harry Dunne and Lloyd Christmas (Derek Richarson and Eric Christian Olsen). Jim Carrey whom played Lloyd Christmas in Dumb and Dumber (1994) impersonated Captain Kirk, Spock and Scotty in In Living Color (1990) (TV Series). Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994) and The Cable Guy (1996).
Keenser was not a character in Star Trek (1966) (TV Series) was not a Starfleet engineering division crewmember aboard the USS Enterprise in the original timeline and was created for the film by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.
Before becoming a successful actor, Leonard Nimoy did several odd jobs, including being a cab driver. One of his passengers was then-future President John F. Kennedy. Bruce Greenwood played Kennedy in Thirteen Days.
Randy Pausch: A Star Trek-loving Carnegie-Mellon Computer Science professor, who gained widespread fame as the author of a "Last Lecture", in which he discussed living the life of his dreams in the face of terminal pancreatic cancer, appears as the Kelvin officer in the beginning. Pausch wrote in his blog about the experience, "I got a custom-made Star Trek uniform, and my own station on the bridge, where I had lots of buttons and controls. I even got a LINE!!!!" Pausch died on July 25, 2008. His paycheck of $217.06, from working on the film, was donated to charity.
Joe Quinto: Zachary Quinto's brother, who is credited as a stuntman, is clearly visible as a Romulan during a late scene on the Romulan ship. The people who recorded the DVD audio commentary, including J.J. Abrams, remark at how much Joe looks like Zachary in the scene.
Victor Garber: There is a deleted scene of Nero, imprisoned in the prison colony on Rura Penthe, being interrogated by a Klingon guard wearing a metal mask. In the DVD audio commentary, J.J. Abrams identified the Klingon interrogator as being Garber from Abrams' series Alias (2001).
Greg Grunberg: Performed the voice-over of James T. Kirk's stepfather. Grunberg was considered for the role of pimping con man Harry Mudd, who was in an early draft of the script, but was eventually written out. Then Grunberg was considered to play Olson, but due to a scheduling conflict, had to drop out of the film.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Spock Prime's last line "thrusters on full" was an improvisation. The scene was originally filmed showing Spock thoughtfully and quietly walking away. Afterwards, Leonard Nimoy approached J.J. Abrams and said "If you give me one more take, I have a thought I would like to inject here, and see if you like it." They did and he said "thrusters on full". Abrams later called Nimoy to tell him how well he thought it led into the final scene, as it begins with Sulu talking about the thrusters. Nimoy said the inspiration for the line was a way of saying to the younger cast "Go ahead. Take the torch and go!"
After the scene in the bar, Captain Pike says to Kirk "You know your father was captain of a starship for twelve minutes. He saved eight hundred lives. Including your mother's and yours. I dare you to do better." From the moment that Kirk first takes his seat as acting Captain of the Enterprise, it is twelve minutes until the point where Spock destroys the Narada's space drill, saving the lives of everyone on Earth.
An ongoing joke in the Star Trek universe is the redshirt character, a slang term for a stock character whose primary purpose in the plot of a story is to die soon after being introduced, thus demonstrating the dangerous circumstances faced by the main characters. When Kirk and Sulu jump on to the space drill, they are joined by Olsen, who is wearing a red uniform, and meets his death soon after.
William Shatner had wanted a major role in the film like Leonard Nimoy, and wanted James T. Kirk to accompany Spock Prime back in time, even though Kirk had officially died in Star Trek: Generations (1994). He suggested the film draw on the novels, where Kirk is resurrected, but J.J. Abrams felt that if Kirk accompanied Spock, this would then be a film about the resurrection of Kirk, and not about reintroducing the Star Trek saga anew. Nimoy disliked Kirk's death in Generations, but also concurred that resurrecting Kirk would be detrimental to this film.
This film features several similarities or references to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982): Nero uses a parasite to extract information from Captain Pike, which Khan does to Chekov. The Kobayashi Maru test is seen, which Kirk took three times, reprogramming it the third time. Spock serves as a Starfleet instructor supervising the test. Some lines from that film appear in this one ("I don't believe in no-win scenarios", "Are you out of your Vulcan mind?" and Spock's closing monologue).
In resetting the historic storyline for the Star Trek universe, Captain Kirk has become Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise at a younger age. On the original series, Kirk became Captain at age thirty, and Spock had served with Captain Pike seventeen years, previously on the Enterprise. Now, Pike has been confined to a wheelchair at an earlier date, Spock served under him for only a brief time, and Kirk became Captain of the Enterprise while still attending or having just graduated from Starfleet Academy while in his mid twenties. Meanwhile, the Enterprise itself is actually constructed much later than in the original series. According to data readouts in the films and television series, the original ship is launched in 2245. In the alternate universe, the ship is completed in 2258.
The time travel aspect of the story was the most difficult part of the story to develop. Time travel was used previously in the series a few times, but in this case, this would create serious jeopardy for the crew (by messing up the history everyone knows), and this serves a good purpose in creating a current set of adventures for the original characters. The time travel also enabled Leonard Nimoy to make an appearance in the film, to help usher in the current cast.
As Spock (Zachary Quinto) sits down to pilot the ship from the future that Spock Prime (Leonard Nimoy) pilots back in time, we see the back of the pilot seat. When viewed from behind and combined with the forward viewport, the combination of these items form to create the Vulcan IDIC, a symbol for the Vulcan saying, "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations" that first appeared on the original series.
Originally, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, had written a cameo for the original James T. Kirk, William Shatner: Spock Prime was to give his younger self a recorded message from Kirk. According to Orci, "it was basically a Happy Birthday wish from Kirk, knowing that Spock was going to go off to Romulus, and Kirk would probably be dead by that time." This would then dissolve into Shatner reciting the famous "where no one has gone before" line. However, they were divided on the cameo, and decided not to waste Shatner's time. Orci expressed some regret about not including the scene, but was very proud of the final film's ending.
In the film's ending, Leonard Nimoy, in a voice-over, repeats the iconic opening lines from the opening credits to the original Star Trek (1966) series. However, one line is changed from "...where no man has gone before." to "...where no one has gone before." (The canon establishes that the Enterprise mission statement originated with Zefram Cochrane (Star Trek: Enterprise: Broken Bow: Part I (2001)), and that Captain Kirk changed it in his Captain's log, "where no man...where no one has gone before" in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) after having learned lessons about racism and xenophobia in that picture. Accordingly, that version of the mission statement was used by Captain Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987). (Since Spock has lived into that era, this makes sense that he would adopt the current version.)
Near the film's ending, a shuttle behind Spock Prime has the number "12091" on the side. This corresponds to the release date of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), the last film to feature the entire original cast, which was released in December 1991.
The original opening for the movie was going to feature the Enterprise NCC-1701 under the command of Robert April, with George Kirk second in command. At the climax of the scene, the Enterprise would have been destroyed, and the Enterprise featured through most of the movie would have been its successor, the NCC-1701-A (which did not debut until Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) in the original timeline). However, Paramount told Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci that the one thing they absolutely could not do was destroy the Enterprise, even if they were going to replace this with a newer one, and so the original Enterprise was re-written into the U.S.S. Kelvin, with Captain April becoming Captain Robau.
In this film, Spock decides to maroon an uncooperative Kirk on the planet Delta Vega. This mirrors Star Trek: Where No Man Has Gone Before (1966), in which Spock suggests that Kirk maroon Lieutenant Gary Mitchell on the same planet.
Fans were confused about this film, and thought that this was a prequel to the original series, and had found some of the things that happened in the film, did not happen in the original timeline, and did not make any sense and that of Spock Prime (Leonard Nimoy) appearing in the film. The film is not a prequel nor a remake, and this is explained by Spock Prime when he meets Kirk (Chris Pine). This film takes place in an alternate timeline, and is, in fact, a sequel to Spock's appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987).
When Spock and Spock Prime meet face to face for the only time before the film's ending, they do so next to a shuttlecraft which appears to be undergoing repairs, or under construction. This shuttle bears a strong likeness to the Argo shuttlecraft from Star Trek: Nemesis (2002).
In this film, Chris Hemsworth plays George Kirk, James T. Kirk's deceased father. However, Chris Hemsworth, in real-life, is three years younger than Chris Pine, who plays James T. Kirk in this film. This is a strange point to make, considering George Kirk gets killed as James is about to be born.
Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana), a human, falls in love with Spock (Zachary Quinto) a half-human, half-extraterrestrial. In Avatar (2009), also released the same year, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), an extraterrestrial, falls in love with Jake Scully (Sam Worthington), a human.