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When we found out Ben Stiller is a massive Trekkie, we had to get the actor — whose own Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian is facing off against J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek in theaters — on the horn to discuss.
Why did Star Trek appeal to you as a kid?
I loved the characters, the colors, the ideas — all were so well defined. It felt like a world I wanted to be in.
Was there any one character in particular you identified with?
Kirk. Definitely Kirk — possibly the coolest Jewish guy ever. I choose to believe that Kirk, like Shatner, is actually Jewish.
How did Star Trek differ from other sci-fi?
I wasn’t into sci-fi, except The Twilight Zone, which was very, very cool but did not have the regular characters to hook you in.
Were there things in its message that you still believe in today?
I love that every show had a real idea behind it. I think thematically, it was very humanistic — about friendship and love most of the time.
What do you think of the new movie? Was there anything in it that pissed you off as a fan?
I think that J.J. Abrams did an incredible job. Besides making an entertaining movie, he took so many chances. The reality is that he intentionally changed stuff. I think he knew that he needed to make it exciting and current and he totally captured the spirit and humor of the characters in the original series. I think what he did was “thread the needle” on this — not an easy job. Pike was awesome, as were the big three.
The only thing I had trouble buying was Spock and Uhura “making out” in the elevator. I just didn’t think Spock would ever do that.