That Time Quentin Tarantino Acted Out Gangster Scenes From His Star Trek Movie

William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy dressed as gangsters in Star Trek.

Some experiences in life are so wild, merely speaking of their existence is a delight. Screenwriter Mark L. Smith, a writer on films such as The Revenant and The Midnight Sky, has one of those stories of his own to tell-- as his work on Quentin Tarantino’s Star Trek movie left him with a lot of gems to recount. And one of them happens to be the time that Tarantino acted out gangster scenes from the script, which according to Smith, is just as fun as it sounds.

As the featured guest of the podcast Bulletproof Screenwriting, Mark L. Smith regaled host Alex Ferrari with stories from throughout his professional career as a screenwriter. One of the most notable, was, of course, the time he was offered to work with Quentin Tarantino on his Star Trek movie, which was adapted from one of the original series episodes that saw Captain Kirk and his Enterprise crew taking part in a ‘30s gangster caper on Earth. Which is how Smith was able to share his stories, including this special gem of an excerpt:

I guess it was the first day I met Quentin. We were in the room and he’s reading a scene that he wrote and it’s like this awesome cool gangster scene. And he’s acting it out, doing the back and forth. I told him, ‘Man, I’m just so mad,’ I didn’t have my phone to record it. This would be so valuable. It was just amazing.

It probably doesn’t surprise anyone that Quentin Tarantino is versed in the ways of the classic movie gangster. And even if it did, Mark L. Smith’s recollection of hanging out in Tarantino’s personal home theater, riffing on the dialogue, would definitely dispel any doubts. But the appreciation for the hamminess of the quality was exactly what helped fuel Smith and Tarantino’s vision on what they wanted to do with this out of the box Star Trek project.

That’s also why the moviegoing world at large has been so stunned, and yet so accepting of this particular spin on Paramount’s storied franchise. With Star Trek stuck in a cinematic holding pattern, everything from a proper continuation of the Chris Pine fronted reboot to the most recent variant, from Star Trek: Discovery writer Kalinda Vasquez, has been in play. Clearly, there’s no shortage of ideas that have come and gone, which makes the competition to get into production even fiercer.

Which leads us to Mark L. Smith’s assessment of the situation surrounding Quentin Tarantino’s Star Trek, a film that the writer has pegged as having a “10% chance” of being made. Which probably isn’t helped by the fact that Tarantino himself dropped out of directing the film himself. It all adds up to a bittersweet “what if” scenario, as Smith dropped these further hints on what we could have expected:

Kirk’s in it, we’ve got him. All the characters are there. It would be those guys. I guess you would look at it like all the episodes of the show didn’t really connect. So, this would be almost its own episode. A very cool episode. There’s a little time travel stuff going on. There’s all this other… it’s really wild.

Star Trek and time travel go together like peanut butter and jelly, so to have Mark L. Smith and Quentin Tarantino playing around with those ideas, in a gangster picture format, is too good to let slip away. We’ll see what happens with this would-be crowd pleaser, as there’s still a Vulcan chance this movie could become a reality. In the meantime, 2021’s stocked movie schedule will have to do as a distraction from whether or not the stars will align for this trek at Paramount.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.