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Captain Kirk's Doctor Talks 'Star Trek' Movie

March 13th, 2009 10:58am EDT
Sonita HenryThe most highly anticipated new Star Trek movie since Robert Wise's 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture will be released on May 8, 2009 with J.J. Abrams at the helm. Not a lot is known about the plot as this is one of those most secretive productions in recent memory -- Abrams has a tendency to do that (read: Cloverfield). Sonita Henry, who plays the first person to ever meet James Tiberius Kirk -- as the doctor who delivers him -- joins us to discuss her role, what it is like working with Abrams, some minor spoilers and the possibility of getting her own action figure.

Mike: You're in the new Star Trek movie. Do you know what you've gotten yourself into?

Sonita: I'm beginning to, now. At the time I was like, "Oh cool, another job." Now I'm like, "Oh, hang on a second." (laughs) But ... it will be fun.

Mike: Well, you were in The Fifth Element, correct?

Sonita: Yes, so I had a little taste of it then. Star Trek is, obviously, much bigger.

Mike: Where you a fan of the series?

Sonita: Of course! My older brother and my dad were huge into the original TV show.

Mike: With Star Trek, I don't think the fans care how large or small a role is; they will be interested in your character for many years to come.

Sonita HenrySonita: I've been to two Comic Cons. It's always interesting to walk around Comic Cons and to see the actors signing their head shots and you're like: What exactly did you do in that TV show or movie? And they're like, "Well, I played the third lieutenant from the left." And your like: Excellent, good job, keep going (laughs) ... good for you.

Mike: Well, along those lines: You will always have a special place in Star Trek fandom because your character is the first person ever to meet Captain Kirk, right?

Sonita: Yes, I am. I am the person that delivers Kirk, holds Kirk. And I like to think that if I had sneezed or fallen (laughs) ... what would have happened to Star Trek?

Mike: Right, because you play Kirk's ... I guess pediatrician? Is that the right term?

Sonita: What would I be? It's a doctor ... I play Winona Kirk's OBGYN (laughs).

Mike: Your character is listed as "The Doctor." There's no name yet?

Sonita: As far as I know there wasn't.

Mike: Do you want to give her a name right now?

Sonita: What name would she be? I don't even know what she looks like.

Mike: Really? Did they add effects later?

Sonita: Yes. There will be effects. I'm not sure where my character is from, they never told me that. I wont know what I look like until I actually watch the movie.

Mike: They are keeping things pretty close to the vest if they won't even let you know what you look like.

Sonita: Really, Really close to the vest. I saw some mock-up drawings, that was about it.

Mike: Your character will be a trivia question for years: "Who was the first person who ever met Captain Kirk?" Answer: The Doctor. Hopefully she will have a name before that gets put into a Trivial Pursuit: Star Trek Edition.

Sonita: That's why she needs a name! You can't have these trivia questions and it's just: The Doctor. That's too easy of an answer.

Mike: Yeah, that would be like: "Who was the Captain of the Enterprise before Kirk?" You can't just say, "Umm ... The Captain?"

Sonita: That doesn't work. It would be the shortest trivia game in history. It's pointless. I think we should actually get a petition started: Name The Doctor. Anyone can send in names and we can pick the best one.

Mike: You may need to get that approved, first, through J.J. Abrams.

Sonita: (Laughing) I might need to get that approved.

Mike: What was it like working with J.J. Abrams?

Sonita: I've been a fan since the first season of Alias. He was everything you could possibly ask for in a person. Just the nicest, sweetest person on the planet; not that I've met everyone on the planet. As far as an actor and a director: We didn't have the script, we didn't know what had just happened, what was happening next. We knew nothing. And, of course, a lot of it was CGI and we didn't know what was going on at the time. He's so precise and so much is going on in his head that he actually paints the picture for you right before the scene. He will sit on the floor with everyone and say: this has just happened, this is happening right now and this is going to happen in a minute ... which was so helpful for us.


Watch the trailer for "Star Trek" right here:




Mike: Some of your scenes are on the USS Kelvin?

Sonita: Yes, that's the ship we are on. Kirk's father is the captain of the Kelvin. In the shots from the trailer, The Kelvin is being destroyed. In that time everything is being blown up and Winona Kirk is trying to deliver [James Kirk].

Mike: I think you were in a movie before with Winona Ryder?

Sonita: Woody Allen's Celebrity, right.

Mike: She plays Spock's mom so I'm assuming your characters don't meet.

Sonita: No, which sucks. When they mentioned to me I was playing the doctor that delivers Kirk, all they said was, "Your scenes are with Winona." And I went, "Sweet! I finally get to work with Winona Ryder who I've loved for years and years." Then, I show up on set and it was Jennifer Morrison -- which is also extremely cool because she's very cool on House M.D. -- but it was interesting they used her character's name [Winona Kirk] and not her real name.

Jennifer is very cool, which is good because on the third day of shooting most of the scenes is with me with my head around her crotch (laughs).

Mike: Well, it's good you did not openly shun her because she wasn't Winona Ryder.

Sonita: (Laughing) You're not Winona Ryder, I can not possibly work with you. No eye contact please, thank you.

Mike: How does Leonard Nimoy fit into this whole movie?

Sonita: I have no clue. He came and visited the set one day when I was there which was absolutely cool. The nicest guy. But, I don't know how they will work out the young Spock and the old Spock in the same timeline.

Mike: That had to be pretty cool when he came on set.

Sonita: Absolutely. It was like Elvis visiting the building.

Mike: Are you going to have an action figure?

Sonita: I would love an action figure! I wanted an action figure for The Fifth Element and I never got one. But I don't think I'll be getting one for this.

Mike: Well, if they do, she needs a name first. They cant just call it "The Doctor."

Sonita: Exactly, if she had a name ... if they did build one she should have a detachable baby (laughs). My mom would probably buy tons of them, but that would just be it. Maybe if they change it to a TV show the doctor will have a reoccurring in the TV show (and get an action figure).

Mike: Or ... just center the TV show around The Doctor. Call it "The Doctor that delivered Captain Kirk M.D." and all of her adventures in the emergency room delivering other future Starfleet Captains.

Sonita: It's like ER meets Star Trek!

Mike: You should go to J.J. with that idea.

Sonita: Yeah and I'm like George Clooney but female.

Mike: Even better: put Clooney in it!

Sonita: Exactly, because he's not working.

Mike: He's obviously looking for gigs right now. He's back on ER (Thursday night). It's just kind of sad for him right now.

So we know the USS Kelvin has a bad fate. Does your character make it through alive?

Sonita: My character makes it through alive. I told J.J. there should be a sequel and I should be in it. And he told me I could be in it, "because you do survive."

Mike: Well, if you didn't know or wouldn't tell me I was going to just ask what color your uniform was and make sure it wasn't red.

Sonita: Those poor [red shirt] extras (laughs). But they're probably at some convention right now and made hundred of thousands of dollars signing autographs.

Mike Ryan
"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at miker@starpulse.com
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