Moviemaker J.J. Abrams regrets shrouding the identity of Benedict Cumberbatch's villain in his Star Trek sequel in secrecy, insisting he should have been upfront with fans of the sci-fi franchise.

In a new interview with MTV, the director confirms he instructed cast and crew to deny reports suggesting the Brit was portraying Khan in the film, Star Trek: Into Darkness, only to reveal the stories were correct when the film hit cinemas earlier this year (13).

Abrams says, "The truth is I think it probably would have been smarter just to say upfront, 'This is who it is'. It was only trying to preserve the fun of it, and it might have given more time to acclimate and accept that's what the thing was.

"It was so important to the studio that we not angle this thing for existing fans. If we said it was Khan, it would feel like you've really got to know what Star Trek is about to see this movie. That would have been limiting. I can understand their argument to try to keep that quiet, but I do wonder if it would have seemed a little bit less like an attempt at deception if we had just come out with it."

Khan, previously portrayed on screen by Ricardo Montalban, has been a longtime nemesis of the Star Trek crew.