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I've been excited for the sequel to J.J. Abrams' Star Trek since the second I walked out of the theater in 2009, but the anticipation skyrocketed when it was announced that Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch would be playing the film's central villain. The problem is that we have no idea what character the actor will be playing from the vast Star Trek universe, and therefore have no idea what to really expect. But now we've gotten a tiny look under the veil.
This afternoon I had the pleasure of sitting down one-on-one with Star Trek sequel writer Alex Kurtzman, who is currently out promoting his directorial debut, People Like Us. Towards the end of our conversation I took the opportunity to ask about the upcoming science-fiction blockbuster and, in particular, what we can expect from Cumberbatch as the villain. "He’s a genius," Kurtzman said. "There are certain actors who have the ability to take a line of dialogue and add a ring to it that you didn’t even know you put into the dialogue, into the line. And he’s one of those really brilliant actors. Just listening to him talk…you could enjoy him reading the phone book."
Going into how the villain will play into the larger story, the writer/producer then explained the importance of antagonist escalation, saying, "Sequels are about your bad guy. Because your first movie is always about the becoming of [the hero] and your bad guy has to test that hero in a very significant way. And he’s an incredibly formidable presence. He’s amazing. Are you going to be scared of him? Shit yeah!"
Listening to Kurtzman's comments I could help but think about Christopher Nolan's Batman series, where he went from Scarecrow (who is amazing and scary in his own way), to The Joker, who blew the fucking doors off the back of the theater. Needless to say, the idea of Cumberbatch pulling off a Heath Ledger-level baddie turn is too tantalizing to even think about.