When “Star Trek Beyond” comes out on DVD next week, you can freeze-frame on the big-name cameo appearance that zipped past so quickly in the theaters: Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ moment as an alien Starfleet official.
If you missed recognizing him, don’t feel bad. Even Bezos acknowledges that it was a quickie, and the fact that he’s loaded up with face prosthetics doesn’t help.
“You will have to watch very carefully. Do not blink. You will miss me,” he said during Saturday night’s Pathfinder Awards banquet at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. Bezos was one of the honorees, along with airplane restorer Addison Pemberton.
The “Star Trek” cameo was Bezos’ idea, all the way. He’s been a fan since childhood, and has told interviewers that Amazon’s Alexa AI assistant was inspired by the patient, know-it-all computer on the Starship Enterprise. A movie-prop Enterprise holds a prominent place at the Kent headquarters for Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture.
“For years, I have been begging Paramount, which is owned by Viacom, to let me be in a ‘Star Trek’ movie. I was very persistent, and you can imagine the poor director who got the call, you know, ‘You have to let Bezos be in your “Star Trek” movie,'” Bezos joked.
“I said, ‘Look, I’ll put any amount of makeup on. I’ll be invisible, nobody will know it’s me. But I want a speaking part, and I want it to be in a scene that is central to the story line so that I cannot end up on the cutting-room floor,'” Bezos recalled. “Those were my requirements, and they honored those requirements.”
Director Justin Lin had Bezos play an official who was getting a rescued spacefarer (played by Lydia Wilson) ready for an auto-translated interview with Captain Kirk and a Starfleet officer. “Speak normally,” Bezos’ character advises the alien. Then he walks off camera.
And that’s it. Bezos’ screen time amounts to about eight seconds, starting at the 13:12 mark in the movie.
For what it’s worth, the film’s poor director says Bezos did an “awesome” job.
“He had a big entourage, but it didn’t matter because he was so into it,” Lin told interviewers when the movie came out in July. “He had to wait around all day because it was one day we were shooting, like, three different scenes.”
Filming the scene required multiple takes, but Bezos “just nailed it every time,” Lin said.
Bezos, who is mentioned by name in the film credits, said the experience was a “Star Trek” geek’s dream come true.
“It was super-fun for me,” he said. “It was a bucket list item.”