By Associated Press
LOS ANGELES -- J.J. Abrams long dreamed of bringing "Star Trek" to the big screen, but his first love has always been something more simple: drilling.
"I hadn't even heard of 'Star Trek' until my college roommate greeting me with his fingers split apart and a 'live long and prosper' on the first day of my Freshman year," says Abrams from his elegant grotto in the Hollywood Hills. "That was my first exposure to 'Star Trek," really, and then I was made more aware of it when I woke up one night to find that same roommate seated next to my bed, staring at me while I was asleep and wearing pointed clip-on ears." "He taught me about Vulcan traditions," says Abrams, "and I was hooked."
But Abrams admits that his passion for "Star Trek" is a distant second to his passion for the science and pleasure of deep core drilling. "My father produced a made-for-tv movie starring Michael Biehn in the late Seventies. It was called 'Steeletown,' and it was mostly about welding, but as I watched the dailies as an innocent lad of 13, I was fascinated by the drilling that went on between the welding scenes." "From that day on," reveals Abrams, "I knew that I would do my best to bring drilling to the public. The bigger the drill, the better."
Abrams first gained critical attention for his screenplay for the Michael Bay epic "Armageddon," which was Abrams's first foray into the sci-fi/drilling hybrid. "I knew that I could build a movie around drilling," says Abrams, "and I figured what better way to show the different facets of the drilling community than to have the drilling take place in outer space?" Audiences loved it, and the film has become a classic, even gaining prominence as part of the presigious "Criterion Collection" of dvds.
After a few non-drilling diversions like "Felicity" and the misguided "Alias," Abrams returned to his roots with the initial pitch for "Lost." Although he's given up day-to-day production of the critically-acclaimed fantasy/sci-fi show, Abrams admits that when he turned the reigns over to Damon Lindelof, he gave very specific instructions. "I told him, 'I don't know what I was thinking with the smoke monster or the polar bear, but just make sure that you tie in all together with drilling somehow. I love drilling,'" says Abrams.
Fans who watched this season's finale know just how far Lindelof took his mentor's advice.
And fans of the new "Star Trek" film, the most eagerly-anticipated film of this season, know that drilling is more than just a sideline interest for Abrams. "I wanted to show the power and glory of drilling," reveals Abrams, "and how it could be used for evil as well as good." The Romulan Nero, a space-driller with a thirst for vengeance, is, in many ways, Abrams's most perfect creation. "Nero embodies everything that drilling means to me," says Abrams, "and I wanted to teach people not to take drilling lightly. Look what it did to the planet Vulcan! That's the kind of drilling audiences will remember for generations. That's my dream, at least."
With "Star Trek" behind him, Abrams doesn't know if he has anything more to say about the emotional impact of drilling. "I don't want to say, 'never,' you know?" says Abrams. "I've always wanted to do a deep space drilling movie with Mickey Rourke, and if he's interested then I think we might have a sure winner on our hands. Who wouldn't pay to see Rourke commanding a gigantic outer-space drill some two hundred miles long? That sounds like a surefire hit to me."