After Leonard Nimoy‘s death from COPD in 2015, Simon Pegg and co-writer Doug Jung decided to pay tribute to the actor.
Note: Spoilers for Star Trek Beyond are below.
“We knew immediately we wanted to pay tribute to him in some way,” said Pegg. “Then we thought, wouldn’t it be good to actually make Leonard’s passing, or the passing of his character, Spock, part of our Spock’s arc? To actually give him a presence in the movie that had an effect on what Zach’s Spock does and the decisions that he makes?
“It’s like Spock helps from beyond. It just felt really lovely and right, and tasteful and fitting for a man who is the face, really, of Star Trek – probably more than Kirk. We wanted to make a worthy tribute to the man.”
And then came the news of Anton Yelchin‘s tragic death. To honor Yelchin, “Justin [Lin] went back and edited the final moment so that when Kirk says, ‘To absent friends,’ it cuts to Anton, which is really moving,” said Pegg. “It’s hard to even imagine it now, watching the film because he’s there, he’s alive, and I still can’t quite even begin to process the fact that we’re talking about him in the past tense. It doesn’t make any sense to me at all.”