The rumour mill for the casting of the next Star Trek film, a prequel set during Kirk and Spock’s early years, has been raging for months with the seemingly implausible notion of Matt Damon playing Kirk. Even though the franchise has finally been removed from Rick Berman’s hands and placed in those of Lost creators JJ Abrams (who last week was finally confirmed as directing, not just producing the film) and Damon Lindelof, I found the prospect of a major star like Damon signing on for an iconic character in a moribund franchise to be highly unlikely.
Yet no-one else seemed to think so. Leaving aside the wisdom of resurrecting Star Trek so soon – will the general public respond? – and of recasting Kirk and Spock, to me it was unequivocally daft to consider that such names would ever be attached to Trek, which as much I love it was dragged on interminably since the end of Deep Space Nine. Even in its heyday, big-name stars were elusive (the closest they got was Tom Hanks as Zefram Cochrane in First Contact beforehe had to pull out).
After that brief flight above the clouds in the mid 90s to frolic with the mainstream (making the cover of Time, TNG getting an Emmy nom for Best Drama, FC hitting big), Trek then plummeted like Icarus as far as the public were concerned, back to that nerdy shit that they always scorned. As much as any star loves Trek, I don’t see them actually spending a year of their lives filming and promoting it. It’d have to be one hell of a compelling take on the material.
Yet IGN, who have proven and well-placed sources in the industry, have published an article stating that talks with Damon are in an advanced stage. Not only that, but Oscar winner Adrien Brody is in talks for Spock, and Gary Sinise for Dr. McCoy!! The rising James McAvoy is rumoured for Scotty, and he isn’t denying it in interviews. Granted, Sinise is in TV spin-off limbo with CSI: New York at the moment, but that’s still an incredible lineup for a project like this. Sinise in particular is perfect for his character, as much as anyone can be. Say what you will about the cast’s acting abilities, particularly Shatner’s, but these guys played iconic figures for 30 years, and no-one else has yet succeeded them, as it would be just audacious to do so.
I’m still highly skeptical that deals of this calibre could be pulled off, and of the demented plan to return to Kirk and Spock’s early years (the Enterprise will apparently be under the command of original pilot episode captain Christopher Pike), but I’ll be open-minded with Abrams and Lindelof in the mix.