‘Star Trek Beyond’ Actor Karl Urban On What Convinced Him To Return

Star Trek Beyond brings back the new Enterprise crew for the third installment in the rebooted film franchise, but Karl Urban, known among Star Trek fans for his near perfect portrayal of Doctor Leonard McCoy, says he might not have returned.

Urban reveals that his contract had expired and that he considered not returning for Star Trek Beyond, until a conversation with Justin Lin changed his mind. Karl reveals why that conversation was so important to him and, ultimately, why having Lin on board as the director will make traditional Star Trek fans so happy.

Star Trek Beyond Actor Karl Urban On Returning To The Franchise

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When it was announced that Justin Lin of the Fast & Furious franchise had been brought in to direct Star Trek Beyond, the online Star Trek fandom seemed highly critical and wary of the decision, but the actors involved with the film were even more skeptical, says Mr. Urban. Karl adds that, as they all started to work together, they found Lin’s vision for the film was something new and bold.

“It was fantastic. It was a breath of fresh air, and I really appreciated Justin’s intimate knowledge and understanding of the character dynamics,” says Urban. “In fact, I was on the fence about doing the movie until I spoke with Justin.”

Karl says he was no longer contractually obligated to do another Star Trek film and a different project created a conflicting schedule that might have prevented him from participating in Star Trek Beyond altogether, but he says Justin Lin changed his mind. A talk with the director told Karl all he needed to know. Unlike J.J. Abrams, Lin is a fan of the Star Trek franchise and the Star Trek Beyond director wasted no time in instilling Urban with excitement and confidence for doing the film.

“I mean, he gets it. I think between Simon, [co-writer] Doug [Jung], and Justin and myself, we really formed a wonderful collaborative team,” says the Star Trek Beyond actor. “There’s a lot of material in this film that long-term fans are going to be very happy with.”

Karl Urban Dishes On His Favorite Star Trek Episodes And His Favorite Film

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Karl Urban admits to being a Star Trek fan himself, though he says he’s primarily a fan of the original series and The Next Generation. The Star Trek Beyond actor also says he’s caught some Voyager episodes and really enjoyed them, but that’s the limit of his exposure to the spin-off series. He counts “Arena,” “The Corbomite Maneuver,” and “Amok Time” among his favorite episodes, adding that “The City on the Edge of Forever” also holds a special place in his heart.

Urban also loves “Balance of Terror” from the first season of Star Trek, but adds that the episode couldn’t make a good film, because its so confined with limited characterization. He also feels that the type of story, basically the space version of a World War II submarine battle, has already been done too many times in the Star Trek franchise, most notably in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Karl Urban lists one of the most unpopular films as his favorite, saying that he’s really come to love Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

“It is, and for the longest time I felt that it was too slow, but with age I’ve come to a great appreciation of it. I really love it. It’s still, you know, the essence of exploring the unknown. There’s great character dynamics, with Kirk being a little rusty, being out of the chair, feeling threatened by Decker, and McCoy really calling Kirk on his insecurity,” says the Star Trek Beyond star. “You know, Spock returning from Vulcan not having achieved the Kolinahr and coming back to his calling and his friends, and also having an agenda that’s outside of the mission, his own personal agenda. I mean, there was a lot of interesting stuff in there. And then V’ger itself, the concept of something, an Earth probe, that was sent out and has become self-aware. I just think it was a really fantastic Star Trek story.”

Urban also reveals that Star Trek Beyond contains a small nod to the DeForest Kelley character in the new film, referring back to Dr. McCoy in The Motion Picture. When “Bones” first returns to duty, he appears looking like a kind of a hipster with a long beard, exposed chest, and medallion, so, for Star Trek Beyond, Karl suggested having his version of McCoy appear in much the same way.

“You’ll see at the end of the film, I’m wearing an open shirt, and I’ve got a medallion on. Like, not a big one, but it’s there, and it’s a direct nod to DeForest [Kelley].”

Star Trek Beyond warps into theaters on July 22.

[Image by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]