Yes, there really is a place called "Vulcan" in Alberta.

Vulcans transported to Calgary for Star Trek screening

By Eric Volmers, Calgary HeraldMay 7, 2009

Reuters CALGARY — At first glance, you would never guess that actor Bruce Greenwood was the star power at a Calgary movie theatre Wednesday night.

Dressed casually in a faded leather jacket and black jeans, the Quebec-born actor was the celebrity that Paramount Pictures provided for a sneak-peek screening of the new Star Trek film for 300 residents of Vulcan, Alta.

Greenwood plays Capt. Christopher Pike — mentor to James T. Kirk and the first commander of the Starship Enterprise — in the highly hyped prequel that opens on Friday. But amid a sea of small-town Albertans gamely dressed as Vulcans, Klingons and old and new generation Starfleet officers, Greenwood couldn't help but look a little . . . well, like a civilian.

"It's 300 people all dressed up," said Greenwood as he scanned the crowd hovering around a makeshift red carpet at the theatre. "I'm looking forward to it."

As one of the stars of J.J. Abrams' re-imagining of the Star Trek franchise, Greenwood has no doubt been to one or two screenings of the film already. But he said he was looking forward to hearing the details of Vulcan's spirited plight to hold the world premiere of the film within the theatre-free confines of the small farming town.

As many already know, the town was eventually turned down. But that caught the attention of actor Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock himself, who rallied around the cause.

Wednesday's screening was the consolation prize for the residents. Paramount provided Greenwood and the buses to ship 300 residents chosen by lottery to Calgary for an exclusive viewing of the film.

And clearly, many Vulcans weren't going to let the opportunity to ham it up in Star Trek costumes pass them by.

"I checked Mr. Spock on the Internet to make sure I had the eyebrows right," said Clydine Grenier, a Vulcan County resident dressed in a flowing gown, pointy ears and a pointy red hat. "I'm a red-hatted Vulcan queen."

Another woman, who volunteers at Vulcan's annual Spock Days convention in June, was stubbornly staying in her elaborately costumed Klingon character, who she has named something like "Y'snap" (which really isn't as imposing in print.)

"You have to say it with spittle," she said, before admitting her real name was the very un-Klingon sounding Pansy Pohl.

"A Klingon would never be named Pansy. Can you imagine?"

Wednesday's festivities, which began with a barbecue in the town of 2,000 people, had the cheerfully geeky and surreal feel of a sci-fi convention. Vulcan Mayor Tom Grant and his town council were smartly dressed in matching burgundy and black Starfleet uniforms. Two white-haired ladies who donned the Spock-blue Trek shirts suddenly became minor celebrities themselves as they had cameras and microphones thrust toward them. A life-size cardboard cut-out of a scowling Mr. Spock, meanwhile, was perched beside the Vulcan sign-in table.

"After a year-and-a-half I'm almost speechless," said Dayna Dickens, the Vulcan tourism co-ordinator who opted Wednesday for an old-school, Uhura-style short red dress and black boots. "I'm so excited. It's fairly surreal to have everybody come together tonight. To have so many Vulcans to be dressed up in their Star Trek costumes and just having their chance to be in the spotlight is just so special for rural Alberta."

Greenwood, who joked with Vulcan residents, posed for pictures and signed autographs, wasn't willing to admit that playing Christopher Pike was as daunting as preparing for his role of John F. Kennedy in Thirteen Days.

But he did say that the character — who only appeared in two episodes of the original series — is a beloved figure among Trekkies.

"There's a huge mythology around it," he said. "He was the first captain and has part in the (Star Trek) lore, I wanted to be careful."

Greenwood said he watched all of the original Star Trek episodes to prepare. He said it was an eye-opening experience, with the shows having more depth than he remembers as a boy.

"The themes are classical, the conflicts are classical," he said.

As for the risk that the versatile actor will now be forever linked to the Star Trek franchise like so many other actors before him, Greenwood said he doesn't mind.

"I'm OK with that," he said. "It's a very old part of Hollywood history."

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

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