Back in November, we learned that Paramount and Bad Robot had hired Fargo and Legion showrunner Noah Hawley to write and direct the next Star Trek movie. The future of the Trek films have been up in the air for a while. After reception cooled following 2009’s Trek and was less than what Paramount wanted for Star Trek Beyond, the film franchise has been in an odd holding pattern. For a time it seemed like the fourth film would bring back Chris Hemsworth as Kirk’s father, but the studio wasn’t willing to meet the quotes for Hemsworth or Chris Pine. Then there was Quentin Tarantino‘s R-rated Star Trek that was probably never going to happen and now looks like it definitely won’t happen. So the ball has now landed with Hawley.
Christina Radish spoke to Hawley at the FX press day for the TCAs and asked him about providing a unique take on Star Trek:
When I think about my evolution, as a filmmaker, I really came into my own through Fargo. It was in figuring out, how do you make a Coen Brothers movie? I had to figure out, what is the nature of suspense, what is the nature of comedy, in their work, what is the economy of their camera moves, etc. And then, Legion for me was then an experimental film, in comparison. The function of cinema is to create feelings in an audience, and so, what if I do this, and what if I do that? What if I detach the image from information? What if I create a surrealism, more horror, or any of these other elements? And on some level, Lucy [in the Sky] was also an experiment, in telling this magic realism astronaut story. And so, I came out of that going, “All right, I feel like this experimental phase that I’ve gone through, I really learned a lot from it. I’m excited to get back to Fargo, and tell as linear a narrative as we ever tell, and something that’s very grounded and real. And I was excited to look around, if I was gonna make another movie, and I wanted to do something with more scale to it.
When I looked at all of the franchises, I kept coming back to Star Trek as something that, ultimately, at the end of the day that is, at its heart, about being human, about diversity and exploration and outsmarting your opponent, as opposed to destroying your opponent through your physical might. It’s William Shatner putting on his reading glasses and lowering the shields. That’s Star Trek to me. He’s clever. He’s cleverer than the other guy. But it’s also the conceptual science fiction that was always so great in Next Generation, or even the original. Action, in and of itself, isn’t that interesting to me, unless it’s story. I love The Raid. The guy is stuck in this building and has got to fight his way out, and it’s all story. But just to have action for action’s sake isn’t that interesting. So, I have my own take and my own things that I want to do with it. Having done this 40-hour homage to the Coens, and having done a Marvel series, I always approach this material understanding that people are really invested in these stories, and I treat the material with real respect, but I’m going to tell my own story now. I always feel, as a fan, if there’s something that I love and somebody tells me new stories, I get excited. I’m excited there’s going to be another Matrix movie. I don’t need it to be the old Matrix movie. I’m excited to see characters used in new ways, or new characters, or whatever it is.
This is an encouraging answer that he likes the more intellectual side of Trek since, despite the demands of franchise filmmaking, Trek isn’t really an action series. Yes, there are spaceships and phasers and what have you, but the best Trek stories are about a deeper societal issue being explored in a smart way.
So where does this leave the next installment of Trek? Hawley says it’s the early stages, but he looks at the next movie as a “new beginning”:
So then, would you be doing it with the cast that’s already in place, or would it be a new thing?
HAWLEY: It’s still early days. For me, it’s definitely an a new direction, but it’s still early, in terms of who exactly would be in it or what the characters would be. I don’t think of it as Star Trek 4, to be reductive. This is a new beginning.
Speaking to THR, Hawley indicated that he’s looking to line up a new cast to play new characters. I’m sure after the box office returns of Star Trek Beyond, Paramount wouldn’t necessarily mind a reboot of sorts, but the question now becomes if they want to start from scratch with a new cast, do they roll the dice and say “This is a new ship and a new story and new characters, but it’s the Star Trek universe”? There are a lot of possibilities, so I’m curious to see what Hawley does with his Trek movie. Perhaps it’s time to leave the James T. Kirk of it all behind and boldly go where no Trek movie has gone before: a film that’s not connected to any of the TV shows.