Despite the reports, J.J. Abrams won’t confirm that “Sherlock” actor Benedict Cumberbatch is specifically set to play “Star Trek’s” villain in the second film in the intergalactic series, which begins shooting next week, but he was willing to talk about what brought the British actor to the fold.
“He’s a genius,” J.J. told AccessHollywood.com on Sunday, following the panel at the Television Critics Association Winter Session in Pasadena, for his new show on FOX, “Alcatraz.”
“He’s just an incredible actor,” J.J. continued of Benedict. “Honestly, if you’ve seen the work in ‘Sherlock,’ he’s just got incredible skills. He did amazing work in ‘Frankenstein’ [on the London stage]. He’s brilliant. I mean, you try to cast people who are great. We got lucky.”
J.J. confirmed they met with a number of actors for the “Star Trek” sequel, but Benedict was the right fit.
“I just loved his work and thought that he was perfect for what we needed, so we were very lucky,” J.J. told Access.
The second “Star Trek” under J.J. begins shooting next week, but J.J. said he’ll still have time to fulfill his Executive Producer duties in “Alcatraz,” which reunites him with “Lost” actor Jorge Garcia.
“We start shooting ‘Star Trek’ on Thursday, so I gotta go,” he laughed. “What I’ve been trying to do is help, whether it’s read the scripts, giving notes, giving suggestions on cuts, overseeing doing the theme music, that kind of stuff, playing with the show and kind of help get it up running.”
“Alcatraz” follows a trio investigating the reappearance of Alcatraz’s most notorious prisoners and guards, 50 years after they vanished.
The show will have some resolution in each episode, but also overriding questions.
“I can’t help but liking shows that have an ongoing mythology,” J.J. told reporters after the panel. “It’s a weird thing to me to feel like things are wrapped up completely, so hopefully, ‘Alcatraz’ will allow things to exist over [the] long term and also have a week to week specific puzzle that needs to be solved.”
“Alcatraz’s” two-hour premiere kicks off at 8/7c on January 16 on FOX.