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'Star Trek 2' Loses Benicio Del Toro

If the villain is Khan, maybe Paramount should look toward India?

Sorry, Star Trek fans. There won't be any Benicio del Toro a part of this universe. At least not for "Star Trek 2."

The long-awaited "Star Trek" prequel seemed to have a lock on del Toro, the actor who won an Oscar in 2001 for "Traffic." However, del Toro and Paramount Pictures could not come to terms on a contract, according to New York Magazine's Vulture column.

It looked like there was a chance to bring del Toro on board until those talks broke down late last week. It was confirmed that del Toro would play the big bad in the next Star Trek film, but who that villain would be was up for debate.

Various reports have circulated two different stories -- that the Klingons would be top contenders against the Enterprise crew, and Khan Noonien Singh, the character by the late Ricardo Montalban that was also the villain-of-choice for the first Star Trek film followup in 1982. The Khan story has been shot down more than once, but the rumor keeps poking its head up, with Vulture doing it this time, attached to its del Toro scoop.

Who will "Star Trek 2" beam up for the bad guy? Judging by the initial talks with del Toro, it seems director J.J. Abrams and Paramount are keen to bring in a high-profile actor, especially one who has won or been nominated for an acting Oscar. If the character is indeed Khan, and once again going by the initial interest in del Toro, the search could be on for a high-profile Latino actor. This, at least, would honor the heritage of Montalban who first portrayed Khan in the "Star Trek" episode "Space Seed" in 1967, and later in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan."

However, the character of Khan is actually of Indian descent, so it's possible that casting options could open up a bit more. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of popular Indian actors in America that could fit the rough and muscular exterior needed for Khan. But if Paramount were to look into Bollywood, one possibility could be Shah Rukh Khan, the so-called "King of Bollywood."

And it's not just that they have a similar name. Khan is an Indian superstar, and has both the charm, the muscles and the coldness (when needed) to bring the fictional Khan to life. It could be a solid chance to allow Star Trek to once again be a vehicle to introduce new talent to the world along the lines of Joan Collins, Kirstie Alley and Patrick Stewart.

Because filming is set to start in the near future, an announcement on the "Star Trek 2" villain is imminent. And it's anyone's guess on who that actor might be.

"Star Trek 2," which has yet to receive an official title, is slated to premiere in May 2013.

About the Author

Michael Hinman is the founder and editor-in-chief for Airlock Alpha and the entire GenreNexus. He owns Nexus Media Group Inc., the parent corporation of the GenreNexus and is a veteran print journalist. He lives in Tampa, Fla.
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