He was also drawn to the franchise's idealism, he says.
"I think a movie that shows people of various races working together and surviving hundreds of years from now is not a bad message to put out right now," he says. "In a world where a movie as incredibly produced as 'The Dark Knight' is raking in gazillions of dollars, 'Star Trek' stands in stark contrast. It was important to me that optimism be cool again."
"My only regret is that the movie can't come out sooner," says Leonard Nimoy, who will don his pointy ears to play an elder Spock. "I think the world could use it."
The younger Spock, played by Zachary Quinto, says "Star Trek" is a franchise "that offers hope for unity."
But don't expect any unity with William Shatner. The actor won't make a cameo as Capt. Kirk, Abrams says.
"I was such a huge fan of his, but we wrote a scene for him in the movie and it didn't feel right," Abrams says. "And he said to us - he said publicly - that doing a cameo didn't interest him. Which I totally appreciate. But we did try."
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