Locate your tissues and faith in humanity. J.J. Abrams recently set up a special screening for a terminally ill Star Trek fan, Daniel Craft, only a few days before he passed away from liver cancer. Abrams read a heartfelt message from Paige, Craft’s wife, on Reddit and left the New Yorker and massive film fan a voicemail—a producer would be in touch about screening a rough cut of Star Trek Into Darkness.
Shrouded in secrecy, the details of Star Trek Into Darkness have been kept tight (we still don’t know which villain from the Gene Roddenberry canon Benedict Cumberbatch will be portraying). Paige’s message, however, spoke to the film’s creative team. “My amazing healthy film buff husband [was] diagnosed with leukemia (CML) at 38,” she began, going on to describe the unrelated cancer that quickly developed and the rounds of chemo he endured. A die-hard film lover, co-founder of New York Asian Film Festival, and extra in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 1, Paige also noted: “He was hospitalized and had to exchange our HOBBITT [sic] tickets (where the 10 min Star Trek preview was supposed to be shown)[…]his friends and family, the love of my life – WOULD LOVE him to be able to see the Star Trek movie but even the 10 minutes of the trailer would be AMAZING.”
If anyone has seen the 1997 documentary Trekkies (hosted by Tasha Yar, i.e. Denise Crosby, herself), this request makes sense. This kind of love for the series and its philosophy has touched millions of people, from cosplay, to slash fiction, to rabid collection. The phenomena of Star Trek goes beyond the screen, becoming integral to the lives of many of its fans. While some will write this off as a publicity stunt, it’s nicer to believe Abrams, himself a fan, recognized this. Grady Hendrix, a friend of Craft, updated Reddit (and thus the world) with the bittersweet conclusion to the story: “The next day [after the voicemail from Abrams], one of the film’s producers showed up at the door of their apartment with a DVD containing a very rough cut of Star Trek Into Darkness in his hands. Paige had made popcorn, Dan had spent the previous day resting so he could sit through the movie, and after signing about 200 nondisclosure agreements, they watched the film and had a blast.”
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Hendrix summarized things best: “Dan would be rolling his eyes at being ‘the inspirational cancer story,’ but he’s done a lot for movies over the years[.] It’s nice that the movies finally did something for him.”