J.J. Abrams, director of Star Trek, told reporters on Saturday that the movie re-introduces the original series characters, played by a new cast of actors, in a way that will seem fresh yet familiar to fans.
"This movie is not made for people who know the backstory," Abrams said. "If you know the backstory, you finally get to see scenes you've never gotten to see but have been referenced in Star Trek. And not just character moments, but mechanical things that people will be like, 'Oh, my God, that's cool!'"
Abrams added: "This is a movie that doesn't start over in a way that is playing with what is known [or] in a way that would upset people, I think, fans of the show. And yet it allows us to ... deal with the same characters and have the same fundamental relationships. One of the things that for me was always sort of tricky is [the original show] never dealt with how they came together. Why we cared about them as this group. I mean, this is a movie, in a weird way, about these orphans who sort of come together and form this family. And by the end of the movie, I think you love all of them."
In the course of making the film, Abrams—who has previously admitted he wasn't a Trek fan—said that he found his own appreciation of the characters of Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the rest.
"If someone had asked me beforehand, 'Who's your favorite character?' my answer would have been 'I don't have one,'" Abrams said. "I don't really connect with any one of them. But now if you asked me I would say, 'I can't [choose]. I love all of them.' I couldn't answer that question. And it really is, whether it's Uhura [Zoe Saldana] or Chekov [Anton Yelchin] or Bones [Karl Urban] or Scotty [Simon Pegg] or obviously Kirk or Spock, this group is a wonderful group."
The characters will reflect the new cast's interpretations of them. "Like when John Cho came in, I was like, 'Oh, that's funny, because he's this comedian,'" Abrams said. "And he was so good. He was so surprisingly good. And [now] Sulu's a character, who, ... I love this guy. I love how thoughtful he is, I love how kind of brave he is. Kirk is now a guy who I relate to, in a way that I never did. Even though I love now looking at what [William] Shatner did. It's awesome."
Star Trek opens May 8.