The real McCoy at last has the chance to shine, writes Dominic Corry.

He was one of the central characters in the original Star Trek TV series, but Dr Leonard 'Bones' McCoy has never had a starring role in the film franchise. A fact that hasn't sat well with fans - or actor Karl Urban.

"After the second film, there was a huge audience backlash over how McCoy was largely marginalised," the Kiwi actor tells TimeOut from Los Angeles. "And I certainly empathised with that."

So much so, he nearly turned down a third outing with the franchise, which hits New Zealand cinemas today.

Leonard McCoy and Mr Spock team up in the movie Star Trek Beyond.
Leonard McCoy and Mr Spock team up in the movie Star Trek Beyond.

"I almost didn't do the picture. I was out of contract, and I had an offer to do another film that I really wanted to do and I had a real kind of conflict over whether I wanted to do this again."

Advertisement

Urban's decision was swayed by the franchise's new director, Justin Lin (Fast & Furious 3-6), who took over from J.J. Abrams.

"When Justin laid out his vision for not only the film but for the character, it became clear to me that it was going to be a much more developed McCoy than we'd seen in the previous two films.

"And from that point, it was a no brainer because coupled with the experience of getting together with this wonderful cast, who are really like a family, it was something that I just couldn't turn down."

Urban says his personal life has begun to inform his perception of the character.

"I feel more of an affinity to Bones in this film because ironically my life experience has caught up to his. When the character was introduced in the original film he was coming through a horrendously traumatic and painful divorce and I didn't know anything about that. But by the time we come to shoot the third film, I now have gone through that process so I have a much richer and deeper understanding for what that is."

The passing of the directorial torch from Abrams to Lin is helping the franchise move on from the relatively poor reception of the last film, Star Trek Into Darkness. Abrams always admitted he wasn't a Star Trek fan growing up and that showed in how he applied a much flashier, Star Wars-influenced aesthetic to his entries.

By contrast , Lin is a proud lifelong Trek fan, and he drafted fellow Trekkie Simon Pegg - who plays Scotty - to co-write the script for the new film. It all points towards a "back to basics" approach for Star Trek Beyond, which should go some way to appeasing the faithful.

The dynamic between McCoy and Mr Spock was a constant source of juicy conflict in the original series, that will finally be explored in the new film.
The dynamic between McCoy and Mr Spock was a constant source of juicy conflict in the original series, that will finally be explored in the new film.

"Simon and Justin have a longstanding, deep appreciation for Star Trek and know the archetypes and know those characters and so that was a huge strength going into writing the script and continuing to work on it through production. It was a very collaborative environment where I could go to Simon and suggest dialogue, because I know how my character speaks, and he would embrace it."

The dynamic between McCoy and Mr Spock (Zachary Quinto) was a constant source of juicy conflict in the original series, that will finally be explored in the new film.

"The crew become splintered and consequently we have these fantastic couplings and one of them is Spock and McCoy, who get to spend a huge part of the film together.

"They're in a situation of great jeopardy and they're forced to work together in order to survive. And through that there's great comedy because those two characters couldn't be more diametrically opposed."

Karl Urban is looking to forward to working with Taika Waititi on the film Thor: Ragnarok.
Karl Urban is looking to forward to working with Taika Waititi on the film Thor: Ragnarok.

After Star Trek Beyond, Urban will head to Queensland to shoot a villainous role in Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok.

"I'm so excited to work with Taika. I've been a huge fan of his for years, loved What We Do In The Shadows and obviously Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

"I read Barry Crump's Wild Pork and Watercress when I was a kid and I thought 'Why the hell hasn't anyone made this before?' And thank God no one did - he did such a great job. I'm really stoked to be working with him."

Low down


Who:

Karl Urban plays Dr Leonard 'Bones' McCoy


What:

Star Trek Beyond


When

: In cinemas today