Karl Urban is back as Leonard "Bones" McCoy, the curmudgeonly doctor with a heart of gold and a crap-load of sass, in Star Trek Into Darkness. How does one man spout so many outlandish metaphors without getting kicked off the deck of the Enterprise? We asked Karl Urban, and he told us about delivering a classic "Dammit, Jim" line.
It seemed like this movie spent more time with the crew in smaller, off-ship missions. Was that hard to shoot, and were you ever all together on the bridge?
Karl Urban: Yes, we were; the very first stuff we shot was on the Enterprise. Which was fantastic because that was a great plea to start. We really were like a family at the start on the deck, with everybody together again before we went off on our individual missions. And it really was a wonderful way to start.
How many metaphors did you get to say in this movie?
A few, it's interesting. I was talking to J.J. [Abrams] as we were going through some of the scenes on the bridge, and I sort of noticed that a lot of my lines were metaphors. So I went up to him and said, "Look, there's a lot of metaphors here, like three in a row. Can we take one of these out so I'm not some metaphor man?" And his response to that was to give a line to Captain Kirk pointing out that I was speaking in metaphors. It was quite hilarious.
What was your favorite metaphor?
I think probably, "Don't rob a gas station with a flat tire."
McCoy tends to be remembered for his quippiness more than anything else. Do you think Star Trek Into Darkness will show McCoy in a new light?
What I liked about what I get to contribute in this film is underneath the surface there's a warmth and a friendship and a love that McCoy has for all of these characters. And I think we enjoy seeing Bones work to the best of his ability in order to save lives. That was a wonderful element to have.
Where do you think McCoy feels about the idea of militarizing Starfleet [a theme in the new movie]?
Oh no, he's absolutely of the line that Starfleet is supposed to be a body about space and exploration. McCoy would be totally anti-military in regards to militarizing Starfleet. That's one of the themes in this movie — it's called Into Darkness. The film explores not only darkness on a character level, as the characters delve into the darker side of their nature and give into their baser impulses, but it also explores the reaction to what happens in the first film within Starfleet. And how there are some elements in Starfleet that they decided to militarize. And that's part of the bite of this movie.
There are a lot of classic Trek lines in Darkness. What's the pressure like recreating DeForest Kelley's "Dammit, Jim" line?
I don't think about that when I'm on set. When I'm on set, I'm just focusing on my energy and being in the moment and delivering a performance that can tell the story. I'm a fan of Star Trek and there are some surreal moments.
Do you ever call Kirk "Captain"?
That's a good question. In the original series McCoy definitely did. I'm trying to think if he did in this movie... I don't believe so, not in this movie. Interestingly enough, in this film Scotty also calls Captain Kirk "Jim" and in the entire history of Star Trek I believe that only happens on one other occasion. But thematically, I think that this film is about family, it's about friends. It's about characters that really love each other and care for each other. And would do anything to the point of laying down their lives for each other.
Most of your non-Starfleet outfits are fairly restricting. What do think it says about the future that all of the outfits are tight, monochrome suits?
We had a lot of laughs working in the wetsuits. They were very revealing. I mean they were incredible to wear, not the most comfortable costume, but they look great on screen. Michael Kaplan is so good at designing costumes that look good on screen. And if you look at his pedigree, it starts with Blade Runner and just goes up from there.
Usually Star Trek costumes pay more attention to the short skirts. Do you think the guys are the new eye candy now?
Star Trek was always sexy, so I think it's good. J.J.'s got his eye on that ball, so there's a bit more risky bits in this film. I think that's fantastic.
When are we going to see what Bones does in his private time off Enterprise?
I don't know! That's a question for the writers. I think he does along the same line of what Scotty does. If you look through the history of Star Trek you can often find them in clubs and bars, slamming shots and having a good time.