Trek Smashes Atom

By Duane Dudek

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
May 8 2009

The Canadian Armenian director Atom Egoyan has the coolest name in
show business. His list of esoteric films include "Exotica," "Ararat"
and the still stunning Oscar nominee "The Sweet Hereafter."

All three of those films also starred fellow Canadian Bruce Greenwood,
who happens to also play Capt. Christopher Pike in the new "Star Trek"
film. Coincidentally "Star Trek" opens in some larger markets opposite
Egoyan’s new film "Adoration."

"I told him we would crush him," said Greenwood during a recent
phone conversation.

(See my review of ‘Star Trek’ here, and my story on the history of
the show.)

Greenwood said he and Egoyan found themselves doing publicity for
their films on the same day in Los Angeles and managed to hook up.

"We literally managed to meet on a street corner in Santa Monica and
talk for a half an hour. I drove over to the street he was standing
on and we stood in front of a bar and talked for a half an hour,"
Greenwood said.

Greenwood is certainly less familiar for his roles in offbeat
indepdent films like "’I’m Not There," "Being Julia" and "Capote,"
than he is for roles in blockbusters like "I, Robot" and "National
Treasure 2." He said he is most recognized as the husband who framed
wife Ashley Judd for murder in "Double Jeopardy."

But regardless of the size of the film the work, he said, is the same.

"I don’t make a large distinction between working on a large movie
and a small movie. Though if you do a big movie and it’s successful,
it enables those people who are trying to get small movies off the
ground to use you more easily. Because if your name has a certain
value its easier to get financing."

Big film or small film "I deal with playing human beings who are
experiencing human emotions. So independent of the environment at the
end of the day its just how you’re feeling and what you’re characters
are reacting to. Whether you’re on the bridge of a spaceship or in
a pickup truck in the middle of nowhere, you’re still a human being
trying to figure out what the hell is going on."

Films don’t come much larger than "Star Trek," directed by "Lost"
creator J.J. Abrams, which shows how the original characters met and
features a new cast of young actors. Greenwood said he hesitated
to call it an action movie "although there are tremendous action
sequences in it, and it feels huge."

"The sound design and art direction is spectacular. But even though
the environment is huge at its core, there are these characters whose
problems and trials are particularly human," he said.

Greenwood’s character looms large in "Trek’ mythology, and in the
film gives command of the USS Enterprise to Capt. Kirk, played by
Chris Pine. He said the cast members did "tons of homework" on the
show and watched all the original episodes.

In order to make sure the film made no gaffes in mythology, continuity
or "protocol issues." they had a "Trek" wrangler on set "who arguably
knew everything. And if he didn’t it would take him 20 minutes to
find out."

Greenwood said he believes that "Trek" played a role in the progressive
cultural evolution of its time because it portrayed "this multi-ethnic,
multicultural cast with women in authority. Today we take that sort
of thing for granted."

And he said the new film is rooted in the traditions of the original

"For people who have this long relationship with ‘Star Trek’ there are
all kinds of things that will resonate for them. All sorts of inside
jokes and tips of the hat. But at the same time this movie exists on
its own merits. And people who don’t know anything about ‘Star Trek’
will be able to sit down and be captured by the characters and shot
into this incredibly fast moving and involving situation."

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