Sulu and Chekov Talk Takei's Baritone, And How To Say "Wessel"S

What's it take to pilot the shiny new Enterprise? We asked crew members John Cho and Anton Yelchin about changing their accents, mannerisms and overall tone, to portray Hikaru Sulu and Pavel Chekov.

How much were you influenced by your predecessors?

Cho: A great deal, though, I sort of had to get it out of my head a little. I don't think any of us wanted to do imitations although the temptation was there. We just felt it probably wouldn't have made sense and distracted people.

Yelchin: There's obviously an enormous influence and a huge desire to capture what made these characters so great and what's given them this legacy for the past forty years. But at the same time, like John said, there's a certain point where you do all of your research, and then you have your character and you've added your own thing. You come on set, and you just kind of do it. You're not thinking about it anymore.

There are also a lot of really important quirks that fans are looking for, like the accent and using certain words. Did you practice saying "wessels" over and over again?

Yelchin: Yeah, I mean obviously once you watch a series you see that and you register that. Then you take sort of specific things and you use them. It's fun to embrace that, you know, it'd be one thing just to play a Russian character but that's not the goal you know? The goal is to play Chekhov. And you if Chekhov changes his v's to his w's then that's what you do. And it's a blast.

Sulu and Chekov Talk Takei's Baritone, And How To Say "Wessel"S

Were there any other quirks that you guys picked up on that you brought out in your character?

Cho: Yeah, I think one day my voice went a little too high, even though I wasn't really sweating doing George, I wasn't trying to do this George Takei impression. But, one day I said, "Cap'n!" [makes a high squeaky voice], and J.J. comes over and says, "a little lower.. just… lower…" and that was the one time we had.

Yelchin: A lot of it the physicality as well. They all had a very specific kind of walk, and a very, very specific kind of smile and a very specific look. There's a very natural optimism about him [Chekov] and I just thought it was really important to capture that. It's beyond the accent, there's the body language and everything that comes with that.

You two have to work a lot of gadgets on the bridge. Did you study the hand motions of your former characters? Were there a lot of re-shoots on the bridge?

Cho: There was a little bit of a tension on the first day. We got together and said, "what's this gonna be" so we had a little pow-wow with J.J., who knows how much scrutiny this is going to come under and we sort of tried figuring out a finger language.

Did you ever have a couple of times you just thought "I'm just gonna go with it. Just move this around here, and then the ship goes forward?"

Cho: I remember when I was pushing the lever once and they were getting coverage on that and the camera person said to me "let's do it again… sexier." [Laughs] Really!

John, you really kick a lot of butt in this. Did you go and watch any of the original scenes, when Takei is going nuts and mimic any of those moves?

Cho: That was a little bit different. He was doing a classical fencing style and you know he had a rapier and I have a modified electronic, I don't know, samurai sword situation. So it was a different style altogether. It was sort of like a tribute to that.

M: John I read you're working on Flash Forward? And it is possibly a show that could rival Lost? Do you think that's true and can you tell us anything about your character?

Cho: I'll tell you the series is focused on a black out that the whole world experiences for two minutes and they see a vision. Everyone sees a vision of their future. Joseph Fiennes and I play FBI agents, partners, so we're trying to piece the whole thing together. Beyond that, I'm not sure I can say much more.

Sulu and Chekov Talk Takei's Baritone, And How To Say "Wessel"S