In a wide ranging interview with Deadline, about his new film, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, director Quentin Tarantino confirms that he and producer J.J. Abrams are planning a fourth installment of the Kelvin Timeline Star Trek films starring Christopher Pine and that it will carry an R-rating and indeed will in some ways be a Pulp Fiction in space. The screenwriter of The Revenant Mark L. Smith has turned in a script he and Abrams are happy with. Tarantino also revels in his love of William Shatner, who played the iconic Captain James T. Kirk in both The Original Series and six feature films.
Read the highlights below.
On William Shatner:
I was on a bit of a William Shatner kick where I was trying to watch the TV movies and the stuff he did after Star Trek, guesting on other shows. Everything before Star Trek the motion picture. I talked to him and had a really good time exploring this stuff and then I got together with him and had lunch and asked about it. He said, “I wasn’t that into it. I mean that was just where I could get work and where I could make money. That was where I was going to get my biggest paychecks at the time and I could keep working so I did it.”
I understood where he was coming from, but asked, did he realize he actually played a wider variety of characters than if he’d just been a leading man on TV series and movies. He goes, I didn’t think about it that way then but you bring it up now and I see what you mean.
I’m a big fan of the show Star Trek. I really like it a lot, but my portal into that show is William Shatner. I love William Shatner on Star Trek. I love his performance as James T. Kirk. That is my connection. That is my umbilical cord. It’s why I like Star Trek more than Star Wars, because William Shatner’s not in Star Wars. I think it’s one of the greatest performances in the history of episodic television, of a series lead, and rightly so, because very few series leads have ever gotten the opportunity to play all the different wild, crazy things. “The Enemy Within” alone…
….that’s why I actually really was so taken with JJ Abrams’ first reboot and how fantastic I thought Chris Pine channeled William Shatner. He didn’t go a serious actor-y way. He said, well no, I’m going to do my own thing. He’s playing the William Shatner version of Kirk and he’s doing a fantastic job at it. I mean perfect, frankly. And [Zachary] Quinto is perfect as Spock.
DEADLINE: What would the R rating give you that PG-13 would not?
TARANTINO: I just don’t think it’s that big of a deal but if I’m going to do it, then I’m going to do it my way. If you’ve seen my nine movies, you kind of know my way is an R-rated way and a way that is without certain restrictions. So that goes part and parcel. I think it would be more controversial if I said I’m going to do a PG movie and it’s going to fit exactly in the universe. It’s not me. What the f*ck am I doing? I mean I didn’t even do that when I did that CSI episode.
The thing is, when I talked to JJ about it, it’s not that radical. We’re just not worrying about stuff like that. JJ said, “Quentin, I love this idea because I think with Star Trek we can go any way we want to.” Look, I’ve got a situation. As long as Paramount likes the idea and the script they almost got nothing to lose right now when it comes to Star Trek. Deadpool showed that you can rethink these things, do them in a different way. So really, even before JJ knew what the idea was, his feeling was, if it wants to be an R rating, fine. If it wants to be the Wild Bunch in space, fine.
DEADLINE: So, will you direct it?
TARANTINO: I will say one thing about Star Trek that I’ve been waiting for someone to bring up. I don’t know if I’ll do it or not. I’ve got to figure it out, but Mark wrote a really cool script. I like it a lot. There’s some things I need to work on but I really, really liked it. I get annoyed at Simon Pegg. He doesn’t know anything about what’s going on and he keeps making all these comments as if he knows about stuff. One of the comments he said, he’s like “Well, look, it’s not going to be Pulp Fiction in space.” Yes, it is! [laughs hard]. If I do it, that’s exactly what it’ll be. It’ll be Pulp Fiction in space. That Pulp Fiction-y aspect, when I read the script, I felt, I have never read a science fiction movie that has this sh*t in it, ever. There’s no science fiction movie that has this in it. And they said, I know, that’s why we want to make it. It’s, at the very least, unique in that regard.