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Star Trek – Karl Urban and Eric Bana interview

Karl Urban talks Star Trek

Interview by Rob Carnevale

KARL Urban talks about the challenge of stepping into DeForest Kelley’s shoes as Bones and the subsequent reaction from fans, and Eric Bana discusses playing the villain in JJ Abrams’ Star Trek reboot.

Q. How much were you influenced by your predecessors? You’re all given an iconic line in the film, did you practise those in front of the mirror?
Karl Urban: I felt it was important as a Star Trek fan and if I wasn’t in this film and was going to go and see it, which I would, I would appreciate some sense of continuity to the Star Trek I had known. So, how I approached the role was really to try and identify and capture some sort of an essence or spirit of what the late DeForest Kelley did so wonderfully well for 40 years, and kind of infuse that into my interpretation of what a younger Bones would be. And that was the challenge for all of us really… not to deliver some sort of carbon copy. And thankfully none of us did.

Q. Every fan knows the difference in appearance with the Vulcans and the Romulans. Romulans have four head ridges and Vulcans don’t. So, why wasn’t it the same in the new movie?
Eric Bana: [Looks aghast] Just because it wasn’t! I inherited my look from JJ and our wonderful designer Neville Page, who sent me secretly coded drawings of how Nero would look and I just went: “Yeah, that looks great!” So, I don’t know how to answer that question. It’s probably more for JJ actually…

Q. Your performance is regarded as the closest resemblance to that of the previous actor as Bones [DeForest Kelley]. How hard did you work to make it convincing?
Karl Urban: Well, as I said for me the challenge was to try and identify the very essence and spirit of what DeForest Kelley did so wonderfully well for all those years. I have to be honest, I found it quite a scary experience because I was never quite sure where the line was, but was comforted in the fact that JJ was there to keep me on track. I have an eight-year-old son and two years before I found out that JJ was going to make Star Trek I watched the entire DVD box set with him, which helped me when it came time to do the screen test. I didn’t necessarily have to go back and review the material because I felt like I knew it quite well. So, it’s difficult for me to really specifically define but I felt like I knew the character and the archetypes and the relationships and what they meant to each other.

The real thrill for me was when I took Hunter, my eight-year-old son along to this movie, and he thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a real fantastic moment for me as a father to be able to be in a movie that my son could see and to have the movie be so wonderful. I feel very blessed and privileged.

Q. I gather you had it nabbed from the reading you did for JJ Abrams?
Karl Urban: I just about blew the screen test because I hadn’t done theatre for so long. I was sort of halfway through the scene and I heard this laughter and thought: “What the hell was that?! What’s so funny?” And it was JJ, so I almost completely forgot my lines. I remember taking an extraordinarily long pause between lines and thought that I’d completely blown it. But at the end he was like: “Wow, that’s it… that’s Bones.” And he looked around to Bryan Burk, the producer, and April Webster and said: “Right, yes, we should do it again!”

Q. Will you be coming back for a sequel?
Eric Bana: I’m very hopeful for the entire cast [laughs] because I think they thoroughly deserve a sequel. Unfortunately, where I’m concerned there are two black holes – one in the film and one in my contract that would possibly exclude me from coming back. But I will visit the set to see my dear friends, with whom I’ve had so much fun [laughs].

Read our review of Star Trek