How Jennifer Lawrence Inspired a New Alien Heroine in Star Trek Beyond
The Oscar winner served as the template for the film s young female warrior, down to her name
Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t actually make an appearance in the latest cinematic adventure of the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise, Star Trek Beyond, but she’s there in spirit as the inspiration behind one of the new film’s original characters.
Simon Pegg, who stars in the third film of the rebooted sci-fi film franchise as Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott and, as a Trek superfan, co-wrote the screenplay with Doug Jung, revealed that the 25-year-old Academy Award-winning actress was their muse when it came to introducing a tough extraterrestrial young woman his character encounters when the crew is stranded on an alien planet.
The character’s name is Jaylah. Sound familiar?
The inspiration did not come from Lawrence’s role as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, but for the breakout role in Winter’s Bone that elevated her to Hollywood’s A-list in 2010.
“Doug and I and [director] Justin Lin in the writing room wanted to create this very independent female, very resourceful character on the [planet’s] surface,” Pegg said during the Star Trek Beyond press conference in Beverly Hills on Thursday. “We didn’t have a name for her, so we used to call her ‘Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone.’ ”
“And so we thought, ‘And then Scotty lands there and suddenly Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone comes out and she fights these guys,’ ” continued Pegg. “And it started to get tiring calling her ‘Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone.’ It’s a long name! So we started calling her J-Law, and then she became Jaylah. So she’s named after Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone.”
In Winter’s Bone, Lawrence plays a destitute but determined teenage woman caring for her siblings while searching for her missing father. Pegg said the addition of Jaylah, a skilled physical fighter and instinctive tactician stranded on a dangerous world, to the familiar Trek cast of characters was a welcome, much-needed addition to the film.
“There aren’t enough girls in Star Trek,” he said, noting that Zoe Saldana, who plays classic Trek character Uhura, “has a lot on her shoulders, so we wanted to increase that.”
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He was impressed by Sofia Boutella, the Algerian actress who was cast as Jaylah after an impressive stint as the artificially limbed assassin Gazelle in Kingsman: The Secret Service. She next stars at the titular reanimated ancient Egyptian queen opposite Tom Cruise in The Mummy.
“Sofia’s incredible, because she’s a dancer and she’s physically so adept so she was very up for the physicality of it,” said Pegg. “We all love Sofia, don’t we? She’s a nutcase and a golden addition to this group.”
Star Trek Beyond hits theaters July 22.