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Video:Robert Orci Interview - Cowboys and Aliens and Star Trek

with Rebecca Murray

Screenwriter Roberto Orci discusses adapting 'Cowboys and Aliens' for the big screen in this interview from the 2011 WonderCon.See Transcript

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Transcript:Robert Orci Interview - Cowboys and Aliens and Star Trek

Rebecca Murray from About.com Hollywood Movies on Universal Pictures' 2011 WonderCon 'Cowboys & Aliens' Press Line.

Screenwriter Roberto Orci - Cowboys & Aliens

Tell me about adapting something that not everyone's familiar with. Was it pretty easy to do without pissing off the fan base?

Roberto Orci: "Well, we didn't have to worry about pissing them off, we just had to worry about boring them - so that's always a problem. When we first heard the title, we thought, 'Why isn't that a movie already?' And then you get into it and you realize, 'I know why, because it's hard mixing these two tones.' There's different levels of a Western and there's different levels of an alien movie, and they don't all connect. You have to find just the right alien movie and just the right Western to stick together, and then hope they stick together."

How tough was it to find that? How many drafts? How long of a process was this?

Roberto Orci: "I mean, we're never... There's a famous saying that you write a movie three times: once when you write the script, once when it's directed, and once in the editing room. And right now we're in the editing room and we're still in the process of tightening it up."

Is it close to what your original draft was? Have you pretty much kept the same tone the whole time?

Roberto Orci: "Actually we had to find it a little bit. Originally it was a little bit funnier and a little bit more broad, I guess. And then as we realized and we started thinking about it that we had to take the Western a little bit more seriously and then that finally led us. So it kind of went funny and then too serious and then funny again, and now it's hopefully just right."

How collaborative is it working with Jon Favreau?

Roberto Orci: "He's awesome because he's also a writer and he's an actor, so he's kind of a triple threat. It's great. I mean, you can literally... He brings the actors into the process. He's not afraid to have people comment on what the scene needs to be or not, so it's a very open, collaborative place. It was great. We were in New Mexico for three months so it kind of took a summer camp feeling. It was really fun and really collaborative."

When you were writing it you had no idea it was going to be Daniel Craig in the lead, right?

Roberto Orci: "Right."

So did you change anything once the casting came along?

Roberto Orci: "We did, you know, because when you finally get the actors, you want to tailor it to their strengths. And one of the things we realized with Daniel [Craig] is he does so much with so few words. He's got an amazing face, is an amazing actor, he's amazing technically. Some of the things you're like, 'You know what? He'll just play that in his eyes. We don't need to give him a dopey line if he can just do that himself.'"

What's happening with the sequel to Star Trek? Is it all done?

Roberto Orci: "We're writing it. Hopefully we'll be shooting it in the fall, if everything goes well. And it takes place in space..."

Really? That's unusual. I was not a Star Trek fan and your movie was really the first one that got me on board. How is this next one going to catch the fans again?

Roberto Orci: "Well, even though it's a sequel we want to make sure that, again, just like with the first one you don't have to be a Trek fan to know what's happening. It doesn't rely on your previous knowledge of Trek or even the previous movie. It's still building on that movie. If you watch the first movie, you'll see where the characters have gone but every movie has to stand on its own. You can never just rely on the fact that it's a sequel."

Is that a hard fan base to deal with?

Roberto Orci: "Yes."

How do you handle that?

Roberto Orci: "By engaging them actually, I think. Because they are one of the most long-standing, vocal fan bases around, from the very beginning when we signed on to those movies, we were interacting with them online and any time we ran into them. And literally the fans in a sense are consultants on these movies because we really do read what they have to say because I was a fan and I wouldn't want someone ruining my Star Trek without at least my getting to complain about it directly to management. The comment box is always open."

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