After years of traveling the universe preserving tranquility and promoting goodwill toward humans and aliens alike, the intrepid Starship crew that Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) has long thought of as his family is breaking up. Officer William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) has married the Enterprise’s Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), and now Riker will assume the captaincy of the U.S.S. Titan.
As the U.S.S. Enterprise travels from Riker’s wedding in his native Alaska toward Troi’s homeworld of Betazed, where a second ceremony will be performed, Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) detects an unusual electromagnetic signature from the nearby planet of Kolarus III. A quick search uncovers the dismantled pieces of an android -- one that might prove to be the prototype of the Enterprise’s own Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner). Back on course to Betazed, the starship is diverted once more when Picard receives a message from Admiral Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) that the Romulans, longtime enemies of the Federation, have undergone a political upheaval, and their new leader, the Praetor, wants to discuss a peace treaty with the Federation. The Enterprise is the closest starship to the Neutral Zone; thus, it is up to Picard and his crew to respond . . . and determine the Praetor’s sincerity.
Upon their arrival, Picard is amazed to learn that the new Praetor isn’t a Romulan at all but a native of Romulus’ sister planet Remus. Called Shinzon (Tom Hardy), the leader is neither Romulan nor Reman, but rather, in fact, a human replica of Jean-Luc Picard originally bio-engineered by the Romulans to be substituted for the captain as a weapon against the Federation. That plan, however, was abandoned long ago, and Shinzon was exiled to the dilithium mines of Remus.
Unfortunately, Shinzon did not disappear as the Romulans had intended. Instead, he was taken under the wing of the enigmatic Reman Viceroy (Ron Perlman), who helped him grow in strength and power, so much so that now Shinzon has successfully assumed military rule over his creators and become the new Romulan Praetor.
While Shinzon assures Picard that the Romulans desire a peace treaty, is he really interested in aligning with the Federation? In possession of a weapon of immeasurable destruction, Shinzon has the power to destroy the Enterprise and her crew. He even has the means to annihilate Earth. And, of course, Shinzon is stoking a particular malevolence for Picard, who finds himself face-to-face with the most dangerous enemy of his life.
“‘Star Trek Nemesis’ is a story about accepting change,” says producer Rick Berman. “It’s a story of passages, of a family that we have known for many years fracturing and moving on their separate ways.”
“It’s also a tale about loyalty and courage,” adds Patrick Stewart. “It shows how people behave under the most extreme and seemingly hopeless of circumstances.”
The genesis for “Star Trek Nemesis” began, curiously enough, on Broadway. It was there, while starring in a revival of “1776,” that Brent Spiner was introduced to screenwriter John Logan. Spiner soon found that the writer was, by his own proclamation, “the biggest Star Trek fan in the world,” so when Spiner mentioned that Rick Berman had contacted him about the possibility of a new Star Trek film, Logan suggested he and Spiner write it. The two men approached Berman, who, along with Spiner and Logan, came up with perhaps Star Trek’s most unique plot yet.
“In a movie like this, the central driving force is the conflict between the hero and the villain,” says Logan. “Rick, Brent and I set out to create an enemy for Picard that would have a personal resonance with him, and we hit upon the simple idea of Picard versus Picard; that is, a younger, more vital version of himself facing the Picard that we know. We all found that incredibly exciting for the sparks it could create.”
Patrick Stewart agreed with the writer wholeheartedly. “The plot gives the narrative an extra complexity in that the villain of the story is also, in many respects, the hero of the story, too. Shinzon has so many of the qualities of Picard, and yet these qualities are warped by his background.”
“John knows more about Star Trek than anybody I know,” says Berman. “I was entranced by his writing capabilities and his love for all of these characters. He gave us a script that takes place almost entirely in space, with lots of action and a terrific villain in the grandest sense of the word. And let’s face it—great villains make great movies.”
For Logan, whose “Gladiator” screenplay garnered him an Oscar® nomination in 2001, creating a simple hero-versus-villain plotline wasn’t enough. So, besides developing a doppelganger for Picard, he decided to make a B-4 android prototype double for Data to encounter as well. “I felt that if Picard were going to be fighting his clone, putting Data in a similar situation would enhance the danger,” explains Logan, adding that all in all, the fact that he was writing a Star Trek film was “a dream come true.”
With the story fleshed out and the script well underway, producer Berman began his search for a director. Stuart Baird, a two-time Oscar® nominee for editing “Gorillas in the Mist” and “Superman,” and the director of “Executive Decision” and “U.S. Marshals,” got the call.
“Even though Stuart knew less about Star Trek than any director we’d ever worked with, I was immediately impressed with him,” recalls Berman. “He got what Star Trek is about and he came in and gave this movie a look and feel that we hadn’t had before. While at first I wasn’t well acquainted with the Star Trek universe, in doing some research, I found myself quite taken with it,” admits Baird. “The characters and plots are very engrossing, and I now understand why this series has endured for all this time. I wanted to continue the story and not just make a great Star Trek movie, but rather a great movie overall. That’s what Rick Berman was looking for when he asked me to direct, and after reading John Logan’s script, my decision was an easy one. In fact, if Star Trek had never existed, and John’s screenplay didn’t feature the characters Picard, Data and the others, I still would have wanted to direct a script as good as this one.”
Jonathan Frakes, who directed two of the previous films, “Star Trek: First Contact” and “Star Trek: Insurrection,” offered one hint to his fellow director.
“It’s not easy to come into someone else’s house, so I tried to prepare Stuart for the familiarity of this group,” says Frakes. “I explained that there’s a certain rowdiness among us that he shouldn’t interpret as a lack of respect. We’re wild and childlike and we rough-house with each other and kid each other constantly, but it’s all in good fun.”
As Baird began to settle into the production, he found out that Frakes wasn’t kidding -- at times the set felt like “Camp Star Trek” and he was the counselor.
“What is extraordinary is everyone’s genuine fondness for one another,” says Baird. “In fact, because everyone got along so well it made my job a lot easier. Also, because everyone obviously knew their characters much more intimately than I ever could, I learned to trust their instincts. That freed me to pay more attention to other aspects of the production. It was a real luxury working with such a well-seasoned cast.”