‘Star Trek Beyond’: Karl Urban on the Relationship Between Spock and Bones

     June 9, 2016


Last year when Star Trek Beyond was filming in Vancouver, I got to visit the set with a few other reporters. During a break in filming, we got to speak with Karl Urban. He talked about what Bones is dealing with in the upcoming sequel, his reaction to the script, how the film focuses a less on the bromance between Kirk and Spock and a little more on the relationship between McCoy and Spock, the new sets which shake and rotate, and more. Check out what he had to say below. Star Trek Beyond opens July 22.

star-trek-beyond-posterQuestion: What was your reaction when you got Simon’s script and saw the new stuff?

KARL URBAN: I loved it. As someone who had a longstanding appreciation of Star Trek, I think what Simon and Doug have done has really managed to capture the essence of the original series. And it’s much more of an ensemble piece. I think there’s great character development for everybody, and fantastic action. Then the heart of the picture is quite resonant… Which is just a way of saying fucking nothing. [Laughs.]

Are you running for office?

URBAN: Vice President. [Laughs.]

Kirk’s dealing with getting older. What kinds of issues is Bones dealing with?

URBAN: Yeah, this film’s great for me. We get to push Bones into a territory that we haven’t seen him in before. There’s a lot more action for Bones. I think he’s forced to cross certain lines that he never thought he would. To me that’s particularly fertile and interesting territory. As a doctor, it’s his job to save life. He’s so compassionate about life. And in this film that core foundation of his belief is tested. It’s really, really interesting.

The scene you just shot, does it normally take that long, or did you guys just get the giggles?

URBAN: We always get the giggles. It’s a fun set… No, that was just a complex one. It took a bit to get the camera in sync with the action, for us to find the right pace.

Simon said this film focuses a little less on the bromance between Kirk and Spock and a little more on the relationship between McCoy and Spock.

URBAN: Yeah, well, that’s one of the things that I really responded to in the script. As you know, the crew gets fractured, and I end up spending quite a bit of time with Spock. We really developed that relationship; and experience things and events together that bring us close together, and allow for a deeper understanding. To me, that’s what makes this so interesting.


Image via Paramount Pictures

Do you guys have a lot of philosophical discussions? We’ve heard that part of this movie is a deconstruction of what it means to be in the Federation.

URBAN: Yes, interestingly enough. I do, I have interactions with Kirk about that as well as Spock. It’s very much, thematically, “What is the relevance? What is the meaning of our trek? What is important?” Yeah.

At the beginning of the film you’re two years into the journey, everyone is a little stir crazy. How does Bones deal with being stir crazy?

URBAN: Yeah, Anton sounded a bit stir crazy. [Laughs.]

He told us about the end of the film. He and Sulu get a rainbow connection.

URBAN: I’m not gonna be that loose with ya. [Laughs.] The interesting thing for Bones is he’s obviously a doctor, and the welfare of the crew is very much at the forefront of his mind. So he’s very centered and he’s very aware that it’s his responsibility to make sure that everyone’s not only physically but psychologically well. So he’s kind of got his finger on the pulse of the crew, doing his job.

Can he afford to be losing his shit if everyone else is?

URBAN: Well as I said before, this is in the story, he’s tested. Doctor McCoy gets pushed into territory that he’s never been in before. Certainly not in these movies.


Image via Paramount Pictures

We know that you guys get to go to a Starbase and experience new aliens. I’m curious if you’re looking forward to doing those scenes, getting into that stuff, shooting in Dubai.

URBAN: Yeah, I’m looking forward to Dubai. I’ve never been there. What can I say? I hope it’s not too hot.

Do you have many scenes with Idris? If so, what is your dynamic?

URBAN: No. [Laughs.]

You have the new sets where everything moves 360, and it’s not J.J. giving the lens a hand job, as Zoe said…

URBAN: Oh my God. [Laughs.] I miss J.J. I used to go into his trailer every day after work and steal his hair product. I miss that now. [Laughs.]

The new sets allow for more physical action on stage…

URBAN: Yeah. It’s interesting. We’re still using those old in-camera techniques. But they’re just augmented by the fact that we have these sets that move and shake and rotate. It certainly makes our job a lot easier. I think it’s one of the great things about Justin — he’s got his eye keenly on the macro. It’s all about enhancing the performance and enhancing the visuals and actually bringing space into the bridge. Whereas, perhaps in J.J.’s version, the bridge was really brightly lit and stuff but space is out there. Justin really wants to bring space to us. I think that’s a really interesting concept.

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