Justman Almost Didn't Work On TrekBy Kristine
August 6, 2004 - 8:28 PM
In 1966, when young associate producer Robert Justman was tapped to work on Star Trek, he had no idea how popular the show would eventually become.
Justman told Dreamwatch magazine (via SciFiPulse) that had it been up to him, he would have remained with the show he was working on at the time, Mission: Impossible. "I was caught between a rock and a hard place," he said. "Star Trek was a very, very difficult show; I might venture to say that is was more difficult than Mission: Impossible. Both [Gene] Roddenberry and Bruce Geller were wonderful to work with, but if I had been able to do Mission, I would have had six years of work with a chance to move on up. So I really would have prefered to have done Mission: Impossible."
Back in 1966, no one had any idea that Star Trek would survive for three seasons, let alone over three decades. "With Star Trek, no one could possibly have foreseen that this little show would have such an impact on our world. It's still astonishing to me," Justman said.
When Justman was working on the original series in the late 60s, he had none of the special effects at his disposal that contemporary Trek routinely relies on. "There were more aspects to making that show than you could imagine," he recalled. "It would ordinarily take two or three months to produce any kind of complicated special effects optical. We were constantly up against not being able to deliver."
Roddenberry departed Star Trek after its second season, and the show was cancelled after just one more season, but Roddenberry never forgot Justman, and when he began work on Star Trek: The Next Generation, he tapped Justman to help him out. It turned out to be a wise move, as it was Justman who brought Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard) to Roddenberry's attention.
"I found Patrick Stewart," he said. "My wife, my son John and I went to UCLA to enjoy an extension course in humour in the arts. We were sitting in Royce Hall when the two actors came onstage to do this cold reading of Shakespeare comedies and Noel Coward material. Patrick was something else! He sat down, shoved up his sleeves and started to read. And he hadn't gone more than a couple of lines when I turned to my wife and said, 'I think I've found our Captain.'"
Justman retired after the first season of The Next Generation, but he remains moved by the message of Star Trek. ""It's a morality play," he said. "That's the long and the short of it. Star Trek was all about people who were willing to die for their principals. It was something that was noble. It depicted a noble group of people we could all identify with, because they had the same traits that we had. It propagated the famous Ten Commandments and the message that life should be lived because that's the way you feel when you're young."
To read the original article, in which Justman also discusses "The Menagerie" and working on the third season of Star Trek, please pick up a copy of Dreamwatch magazine, available in the UK and select stores in the U.S., or visit SciFiPulse!