It was just over a month ago that it was reported that J.J. Abrams was keen on casting Benicio Del Toro as an undisclosed villain character in his untitled Star Trek sequel. Today, Vulture reports that those negotiations have fallen apart and that the actor has ultimately turned down the role.
The news comes on the heels of word that both Alice Eve and Peter Weller have signed on for (also undisclosed) parts, joining John Cho, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban and Anton Yelchin.
Late last Friday, Latino Review reported the rumor that Del Toro would have played Khan Noonien Singh, iconically brought to life by Ricardo Montalbán in the original series episode “Space Seed” and brought back for the 1982 feature film, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Later that night, HitFix received a two word response directly from Abrams regarding the rumor that simply read, “Not true.”
Now the fan speculation is back on, fueled by Vulture‘s additional claim that Khan is, indeed, the sequel’s villain, suggesting that Abrams’ denial may have specifically referred to Del Toro’s involvement. At this time, however, there is no official word.
Although Montalbán was himself of Latin decent (as is Del Toro), the character of Khan was originally intended to be of Indian ancestry. In the “Star Trek” universe, Khan was a genetically engineered tyrant who seized control of much of the Earth in the 1990’s during a conflict known as “The Eugenics Wars.” At the conclusion of his reign, Khan escaped the Earth in a starship, the Botany Bay, and was held in suspended animation with his crew until he was found and revived in 2267 by Captain James T. Kirk. As a point of reference, the first Abrams film takes in 2258, though in a diverging timeline. In theory, Khan could have been awakened as far back as 2233 when Nero (Eric Bana) first arrived and, from then on, altered history.
All that being said, Khan’s appearance in the sequel should still be considered rumor for the time being. What is known is that the film will boast a script from Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof and that it will begin shooting in early 2012, targeting a May 17, 2013 release.
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