Screenwriter Mark L Smith talks working with Quentin Tarantino on Star Trek: "We had so much fun with Kirk"

Ian Berriman
·2-min read
 Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino

Following his work on The Revenant, screenwriter Mark L Smith was in high demand. So much so, that Quentin Tarantino brought the writer on board to help work on the director's already infamous Star Trek movie.

We so-far know very little about Tarantino's vision for the sci-fi franchise, but Smith has given us some indication as to its scale, comparing the script to his latest movie, The Midnight Sky. “I wrote a Star Trek with Tarantino, and that was a sci-fi script on which I could have fun and lean into some bigger, broader things," the writer tells SFX magazine in the latest issue.

"We wanted [The Midnight Sky] to be in the future, but not so far in the future that anyone would feel that it couldn’t be happening. I went through a lot of different TED talks as far as the planets that would be chosen, and the way the ship would have to operate. As they’re going through space, I kept it where they go into blackout zones: they lose communication for a few weeks, so all the messages they were getting from home were at least a couple of weeks behind. Sure, I cheated in a few areas, but nothing major. It wasn’t like anyone was being beamed up!”

Tarantino and Smith's Star Trek script was rumoured to have been inspired by the classic episode “A Piece Of The Action”, which sees Captain Kirk and his crew visit a planet ridden with 1920s-style gangsters. Tarantino said earlier this year that: “I think they might make that movie, but I just don’t think I’m going to direct it.“

Smith confesses to SFX to not quite being a hardcore Trekkie ("more a casual fan”) but someone who was drawn to the "deep" characters in the series. "The relationships all felt real, and something I could relate to,” he says.

The big question, then: is Smith a Picard man, or a Kirk guy? “I love Picard. And Kirk is always just so fun. Tarantino and I had so much fun with him, because Kirk is just William Shatner, y’know? It’s like: you’re not sure who is who, so you can kinda lean into that! Because you watch Chris Pine and he’s playing Kirk, but he’s also playing William Shatner a touch.”

Smith talks further about Star Trek and The Midnight Sky in the new issue of SFX – available now. The Midnight Sky reaches select UK cinemas from 11 December and on Netflix from 23 December.