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'Black Mirror': "USS Callister" Director Talks 'Star Trek' Influence

Jamie Lovett

01/02/2018

Black Mirror boldly went with a Star Trek homage episode in its fourth season. While the episode "USS Callister" was about much more than Star Trek alone, it was still drenched in Star Trek style.

Director Toby Haynes tells The Hollywood Reporter about the episode's Star Trek influence.

"I’m probably a bigger Star Trek fan than [writer/producer Charlie Brooker] is," he says. "As a kid, I was a super-geek for all things sci-fi on TV, particularly Doctor Who. I knew the original ‘60s Star Trek show very well. I was such a fan that I’m kind of reverential about it, so I was happy to play fast and loose with this version. I knew stuff that Charlie didn’t know, which is why we put Michaela Coel in a red outfit. Michaela had to be in a red outfit because she’s the first of the crew to get killed. On Star Trek, the guy in red always gets nailed. [Daly is also wearing red on the ship.]

"I knew those layers of detail, so I made sure those were elements in there. I’m not even sure I ever communicated that to Charlie, but it was just something that had to be. He’s so smart in detail and on the integrity of the concept. That’s what was impressive. Charlie and [producer Annabel Jones] are very particular, but you really start to speak their language after a while and it’s such a pleasure to work with them. Every meeting you have with them, you always spend the whole time laughing. It was one of the most stressful projects but also one of the most fun. I hope it happens again, it was a magic moment."

Jesse Plemons plays Robert Daly, the captain of the USS Callister. To prepare, he studied William Shatner's performance as Captain Kirk in Star Trek.

"It comes from a place of love," Haynes explains. "Clearly, Daly is such a fan that he is mimicking the way that his hero speaks. It was also a very fine balance about how Shatner-y we were going to get. We brought in a voice coach. We worked it very carefully. Jesse would say, 'You let me know if you want to turn the dial up on Shatner.' We did it one or two times where he went full Shatner, like when he says “fire” in the opening. That’s straight out of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. I love those movies. I’m quoting my heroes. So it comes from a place of love. We’re not punching down, we’re punching up."

Haynes is hoping that fans will see more of the USS Callister crew in the future.

Black Mirror Season Four is now streaming on Netflix.

Black Mirror at on Netflix

Black Mirror at on Netflix

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