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Star Trek: Nemesis Interviews
Part Four - Director Stuart Baird

Stuart Baird has edited over 50 films, almost half of them uncredited as a "doctor." He's directed some solid efforts, Executive Decision and U.S. Marshals, but comes into Star Trek as an outsider. And he was happy to talk about shaking things up.

Could you talk about the dune buggy scene? With the bleached out colors it didn't seem very Star Trek like. I just wanted to have an action sequence in the first act of the movie. It was a fun piece for Patrick, whose character is going through a kind of mid-life crisis with everyone leaving him. I looked at it as a fun piece, like a fifty-year-old guy getting a Porsche. The film changes from fun to creepy to action then another fun bit at the end. You must understand I don't come from the Star Trek world. I've never seen any of the movies until Paramount asked me to direct this one. Then I watched a lot of them. I just read the script and was guided by [producer] Rick [Berman] and [screenwriter] John Logan. I hope I didn't trod on too many of Star Trek's toes. I just wanted to put as much energy into this picture as I could. There is a lot of talking in it and I just thought it needed a kick at the beginning of the movie that was fun and different. As far as the color, I wanted it to look as alien as it could within the parameters of where we were filming it. We did shoot it near Los Angeles where a lot of movies are shot. I used a camera technique then we bleached it out even further digitally. I beefed up the dune buggy scene quite a bit from the way it was written. I wanted it to be fun, longer and meaty. One of the things about Star Trek is that so much of the time is spent in these spaceships and visually you have a limited chance to make it interesting visually.

Being an outsider, how did you approach it? I thought it was a good story so I treated it like a film. I know I was walking into the film so I brought some of my own people in like the cameraman, props and costumes [masters]. I really just tried to put as fresh an approach on it as I could given the fact that it is a Star Trek film.

Was there any tension with Jonathan Frakes, who was not asked back as director? No, it didn't come up at all. They were all very nice. Since they were so used to doing it, my main thing was to shake them up a little bit and to not play it the way they had. I didn't study the previous pictures because that could have inhibited me.

Why was the wedding scene so important? As a non-aficionado, I don't think it's important at all. That scene was a great deal longer and I cut it down to the present [length]. I would have cut it down even more. It was very important to Rick and the fan base because of the backstory of Riker and Deanna, which is this huge thing. To me personally, it didn't have such a weight to it except that they were parting from Picard.

What was cut from the wedding scene? More dialogue. Nothing substantial that had any real heart and soul to it. When I read the scene, I wanted as many of the previous people from the previous shows. That wasn't possible. It felt like a small wedding considering the import of it. We shot it interior and I felt the toast and roast Patrick gives is fun. There was the dance that leads to the song Data sings as his gift.

How did you find Tom Hardy to play the villain? That was the core of the movie for me. Could we cast somebody who not only looked like Patrick Stewart but also someone young enough to play the angst of a 24 year old? Even though Shinzon makes himself into this Napoleonic figure, he was still this rebel without a cause type. The other thing was that he had to be unknown so I can introduce him without any baggage. Finding him was very difficult. We only chose him right at the end. We looked at a hundred tapes and I met many young men. I did six full screen tests. Tom Hardy was desperately inexperienced so it was a bit intimidating for him to go up against Patrick Stewart who has an extremely strong screen presence and is an excellent actor. The kid had his lumps and I think he came off fantastically as a good strong villain.

Part One - Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard
Part Two - Marina Sirtis as Counselor Troi
Part Three - Brent Spiner as Commander Data


Part Five - Producer Rick Berman
Part Six - The Spoiler Questions

(Photos provided by Paramount)

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• Movie review - available Dec 13
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