During a series of interviews conducted with the entertainment newsmagazine show Access Hollywood, Star Trek Into Darkness star Zachary Quinto mistakenly referred to Star Trek villain Nero as "Khan," and that's led some on the Internet to take it as confirmation that the fan-favorite villain will indeed be appearing in the May sequel.
You can check out the video below, via Trek Movie, where it's attached to a story about Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays villain John Harrison, adamantly denying that Harrison is a cover identity to hide a better-known villain from the fans.
“A few have asked that which is strange,” Benedict told Scott on Monday, joking about it being “strange,” said Cumberbatch of the suggestion he's playing Khan Noonien Singh (there's a case to be made he might be). “I play a character called John and not that other name. It’s interesting. Speculation is speculation and that’s all fun.”
Some fans have even speculated that the "that other name" dismissal may be a result of a stipulation that Cumberbatch not publicly address the Khan speculation, although that seems farfetched.
“I play John Harrison who’s a terrorist and an extraordinary character in his own right,” Cumberbatch added. “He’s somebody who is not your two-dimensional cookie cutter villain. He’s got an extraordinary purpose, and I hope that at one point or other in the film you might even sympathize with the reasons he’s doing what he’s doing — not necessarily the means and the destruction he causes. But it was a great ride, not just because he’s the bad guy and the antagonist but also because he has a purpose and it’s hard not to see his point of view at certain points.”
"Nero was kind of a brute, physical force," said Chris Pine, who plays James Kirk in the films. "He was bent on destruction....Benedict is a much colder, cleaner bad guy. He's just as formidable in terms of his physical presence but really his primary weapon is his ability to manipulate and his ability to use psychological warfare on the crew."
He added that Kirk's battle is "From a man who was so confident, and overly confident in the first film, here's a man who in the first fifteen minutes is brought to his knees and has to face his own vulnerability and his own feelings of self-doubt."
"Khan uni--Nero unified the crew in the way that we were all fighting against that brutality," added Quinto, which drew a whiplash-inducing head turn from Pine, but no expression. Of course, he's a professional actor so it's possible he was controlling his reaction but it's equally likely that the surprise was at Quinto suddenly addressing the question as much as it was the content of the answer.