It turns out Jaylah and J.Law have more in common than we thought. During a press conference for Star Trek Beyond, actor and screenwriter Simon Pegg revealed that the film’s new alien was inspired by Jennifer Lawrence.
Played by Kingsman: The Secret Service actress Sofia Boutella, the white-skinned Jaylah stumbles upon the Enterprise crew during their trials with villain Krall (Idris Elba). As Pegg explained in a press conference this week (via Vox), Pegg, fellow screenwriter Doug Jung, and the rest of the creative team took a nod from Lawrence’s performance in 2010’s Winter’s Bone.
Lawrence received an Oscar nomination for her role as a young woman forced to fend for herself and her siblings while navigating the criminal underworld of rural Kentucky. As such, Pegg and Jung first nicknamed Boutella’s character “Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone.” He added, “Then we started calling her J.Law, and that became Jaylah.”
Justin Lin (Fast & Furious 6) takes over the director’s seat for Star Trek Beyond after J.J. Abrams helmed the first two installments of the rebooted film saga. Boutella joins a cast that includes the returning Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto, John Cho, Karl Urban, and the late Anton Yelchin.
“She comes from a very strong race of aliens — physically, extremely strong,” Boutella says of Jaylah in a new featurette for the film. “She’s quite defensive, very much on her own, and she’s been protecting herself.” Watch the video below.
Star Trek Beyond debuts in theaters on July 22.