Bennett Reflects on Treks II-XIBy Michelle
November 30, 2006 - 10:37 PM
Writer and producer Harve Bennett said that the genesis of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home came from the popularity of the time-travel episode "The City on the Edge of Forever" and disagreed with William Shatner over the storyline for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
In the second part of an interview with Starbase 972 (part one was disussed here), Bennett also recalled his difficulties working with Gene Roddenberry and said that if a Starfleet Academy movie had been made in the 1980s, his choices to play young Kirk and Spock would have been Ethan Hawke and John Cusack.
"The strange thing about Star Trek IV was that we realized that unwillingly we had created a trilogy, a three part story, a mini series," Bennett recalled, "in which Spock dies, Spock is resurrected and then the Earth itself is saved but by the very actions of the first two. The fact that they can come back and save the Earth redeems the entire story." He said that Leonard Nimoy, who also directed the fourth film, suggested a storyline in which the crew returned to Earth to find something necessary to save the 23rd century, "and thus was a lesson of conservation and how easily it would be to throw away things we may need later."
Bennett does not believe that Shatner as director was a problem with Star Trek V and describes the Kirk actor as someone he respects and loves "and he's crazy", but he did not believe that fans would accept a storyline in which the Enterprise crew searched for God. "It's like: today we're going to search and find the Fountain of Youth, well come on guys, we're not going to find the Fountain of Youth because if you do find the Fountain of Youth and nobody dies and the world changes, and you can't do the show anymore...I thought there were good things in it, but I thought it was a lost cause."
Roddenberry and Bennett clashed several times over the series creator's refusal to relinquish control to subsequent producers and directors. "If Roddenberry had had the internet in his time he would have used it," Bennett guessed, believing that Roddenberry might well have leaked the news of Spock's impending demise to a global audience as he allegedly did to fanzine editors.
Bennett has heard the gossip that J.J. Abrams plans a Starfleet Academy storyline for Star Trek XI, but he believes he would have been told if that were true, since the proposal which was greenlit by the studio but never filmed had been his own and he was slated to direct it. "If they ever decide to do a Star Trek Academy show, they sure better call us because it was our baby," he said. "They publicized it, and then somebody else said 'don't you realize that before you do that you're going to have to make a deal with the people who brought the idea and made a script out of it?'" He expects that "either they will do something else, or – I'll get a phone call."
For more, including Bennett's perceptions of Israel and his friendship with Klingon linguist Marc Okrand, the full interview is here.