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Monday, May 18, 2009

'Star Trek' Director Open To Sequel With William Shatner Or Khan

'I wouldn't rule out anything,' J.J. Abrams says of sequel ideas.

After last weekend's $76.5 million opening, three phrases keep getting tossed in the direction of "Star Trek" director J.J. Abrams: sequel, Khan, and William Shatner.

On Friday, as the filmmaker hoped to maintain momentum heading into his second weekend, Abrams told MTV News that he's open to all three.

"The fun of this [new alternate 'Trek' reality] is that the destiny of these characters is in their hands — it's not constrained by the pre-existing films or TV series," the "Lost" mastermind explained. "Believe me, whether it's William Shatner or Khan ... it would be ridiculous to not be open to those ideas."

As those who've seen the film know, Abrams' new "Star Trek" establishes an alternate timeline for the series' key characters — one that veers off course when the USS Kelvin is attacked in the film's opening scene, killing James T. Kirk's father and causing the future Enterprise captain to be born in space. Other events in the film also similarly impact the young "Trek" characters, resulting in wholly new story lines.

"One of the reasons we wanted to break with the original 'Star Trek' timeline was it felt restrictive," Abrams said of the plot device that could conceivably fuel the venerable series for another five decades. "The idea, now that we are in an independent timeline, allows us to use any of the ingredients from the past — or come up with brand-new ones — to make potential stories."

One buzzed-about ingredient is Khan Noonien Singh — arguably the most memorable villain ever to inhabit the "Trek" series — whom Kirk banished to a barren world in an old story line. Writer/producers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have stated their hope of bringing Khan into the "Star Trek" sequel — and Abrams told us that in his universe, the superhuman tyrant may never have been stuck on Ceti Alpha V.

"It'll be fun to hear what Alex and Bob are thinking about Khan," Abrams said of their impending meetings to discuss sequel plotlines. "The fun of this timeline is arguing that different stories, with the same characters, could be equally if not more compelling than what's been told before."

"[Khan and Kirk] exist — and while their history may not be exactly as people are familiar with, I would argue that a person's character is what it is," Abrams said of the notion that his Khan could be just as evil, even if Kirk never stranded him on Ceti Alpha V. "Certain people are destined to cross paths and come together, and Khan is out there ... even if he doesn't have the same issues."

Another intriguing possibility is that the door is seemingly open once again for a William Shatner appearance, since the writers have said that Chris Pine's Kirk won't die in the same manner as in the original franchise and could live to be older.

"I wouldn't rule out anything," Abrams said of a possible flash-forward that could make up for Shatner's near-miss inclusion in the new film. "The point of creating this independent timeline is to not have the restrictions we had coming into this one. And one of those restrictions was that Kirk was dead."

"But this all assumes that there's another story that's going to be told," Abrams cautioned, saying that there's a lot of work to be done before such ideas can be sorted out. "We're all still coming down from making this movie."