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Benicio Del Toro In Tractor Beam for Villainous 'Star Trek 2' Role

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by Drew Taylor
November 4, 2011 10:40 PM
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Benicio Del Toro seems to be one of those brilliant actors whose career boils down to appearing in either great movies that nobody sees (like Steven Soderbergh's unfairly ignored two-part "Che") or giant horrible movies that no one should fucking see ("The Hunted," "The Wolf Man"), so we're meeting the news (via Variety) that he's wanted as the as-yet-unannounced villain for not-really-called-"Star Trek 2" with a fair amount of excitement. Just think – a good movie that tons of people will see! Co-starring Benicio Del Toro! We're running out of exclamation marks!

The trade reports that he's being officially offered the role this weekend and that Del Toro has met with returning director J.J. Abrams but "in an effort to keep the role a secret, still doesn't know exactly what it is." Now, from the speculation that Abrams and his original collaborators, co-screenwriters Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof, would be taking on the original "Star Trek II: Wrath of Kahn" storyline in some capacity, well, Del Toro as Ricardo Montalbán isn't a huge stretch.

For those of you who have moved out of your parents' basement and are comfortably enjoying an active sex life with a human woman, Montalbán originated the Khan Noonien Singh character on a 1967 episode of the original "Star Trek" series entitled "Space Seed." In 1982 the character was brought back for the theatrical sequel, "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," considered largely by both action figure devotees and regular people, to be the pinnacle of the 'Trek' movies... at least until Abrams' sparkly 2009 reboot jumped to warp speed.

And we could very easily see the new 'Trek' team tackling the Khan character, although his primary motivation (revenge against Kirk for sending him to prison), is an awful lot like the one that drove Eric Bana's Nero character in the 2009 film. It's very likely that Abrams has conceived of a way to bring Khan back in a way that is altogether different than his original series incarnation (especially given the taffy-like metaphysical tangle that the new 'Trek' universe occupies). Could the supposedly retired Leonard Nimoy be brought back to identify Khan? What about William Shatner? Has his angry protesting about being left out of the reboot endeared him enough to show up in the sequel?

Back in 2009 (aka when "Cowboys & Aliens" seemed like a cool idea) co-writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman told Collider that they were debating between "the exploration sci-fi plot where the unknown and nature itself is somehow an adversary or the villain model." Clearly they've chosen the latter. It'll be interesting to see what kind of villain Del Toro plays if he doesn't play Khan, and since "Star Trek" was one of the rare tent pole films from the last couple of years that actually got our blood pumping, we're very excited he'll be teaming up with that film's original creative team.

While "Star Trek 2" (which isn't the actual title) is scheduled to start shooting soon, the release day hasn't been locked down, but we're guessing summer 2013, alongside "Iron Man 3," "Pacific Rim," "The Lone Ranger," and "Superman: Man of Steel." Count us among the many that are ready to be beamed up again.

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