A “Star Trek” writer has revealed a surprising source of inspiration for one of his iconic characters. It turns out that one of the characters from the newer series of “Star Trek” films was inspired by a major Hollywood A-lister…or at least, inspired by one of her most iconic roles. Here’s what one “Star Trek” writer had to say about the celebrity origins of one of the most intriguing female characters in the “Star Trek” film universe.
Simon Pegg Says Jaylah from ‘Beyond’ Was Inspired by J-Law
In an interview with Fast Company, actor Simon Pegg revealed that the character of Jaylah, created for “Star Trek: Beyond”, was inspired by Jennifer Lawrence. Pegg, who plays Scotty in the rebooted Trek films, also co-wrote Star Trek: Beyond with Doug Jung. In addition to his work on “Star Trek: Beyond”, Jung holds writing credits for critically-acclaimed TV shows such as “Mindhunter”and “Big Love”. While working on the screenplay, Pegg felt it was important to introduce another female character into the mix. This sparked the creation of Jaylah, who was ultimately played by Sofia Boutella.
“’Star Trek’ is low on female power, and even though that was corrected over the years in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and particularly “Voyager” where you have a female captain, we felt like we needed to get a greater female influence into our particular story,” Pegg told Fast Company. “We wanted to have a very resourceful, smart, female character who had found herself stranded on this planet.”
Pegg and his co-writer took inspiration from a strong female character in cinema they both admired: the character of Ree Dolly in the 2010 film “Winter’s Bone”, played by Jennifer Lawrence.
“We’d say, ‘Okay, Scotty comes down, and he’s doing something, and then suddenly Jennifer Lawrence from Winter’s Bone arrives,’” Pegg recounted of his conversations in the writer’s room. “We realized that we couldn’t possibly call her that all the time. We had to come up with a name for her by which time we’d already started calling her J-Law, then we called her Jaylah.”
After “Star Trek: Beyond” hit the theatres, Jennifer Lawrence sparked additional ‘Star Trek’-related headlines. In addition to being rumored to star in Star Trek 4 as the iconic ‘TOS’ character Number One, it was also reported that Lawrence was in attendance at the unveiling of a statue to honor ‘Star Trek’ actor Anton Yelchin. The unexpected passing of Anton Yelchin due to a freak automobile accident created an additional complication in the development of Star Trek 4.
What Has Sofia Boutella Been Up To Since ‘Star Trek: Beyond’?
While the character of Jaylah may have been inspired by Jennifer Lawrence, the character was ultimately played by Sofia Boutella. Interestingly, despite the fact that the Beyond hit theatres in 2016, there had yet to be an official statement about what race Jaylah was a member of. The character’s species is never stated in Star Trek: Beyond, and the character’s profile on Memory Alpha lists her race as “unknown”.
After appearing in “Star Trek: Beyond”, Boutella appeared in the 2017 version of The Mummy, and the 2018 version of Fahrenheit 451. Boutella was born in Bab El Oued, Algeria. According to IMDB, the next film she will appear in is 2021’s Settlers, a feature film about refugees from Earth. The film was selected as one of three projects supported by the storytelling incubator at the NYU Production Lab back in 2019.
As for whether Boutella would ever consider reprising her “Trek” role, the actress has previously indicated that she would be interested. In an interview with USA Today back in 2016, Boutella stated: “I’d be excited to be a part of it again.”