The British comedian reprises his role as Scotty in the third instalment of the sci-fi franchise, which he also co-wrote, and assured fans that the film will include a tribute to Star Trek legend Leonard, who died in 2015.

"How could there not be?" he tells the Associated Press at CinemaCon 2016. "Leonard was, for many people, the face of Star Trek, Spock is such a recognisable, beloved character that we wanted to, in some degree, pay tribute to him and we have done. It felt like a no-brainer really."

He did not reveal what form the dedication would take, but it follows a tribute made by the Star Trek Beyond cast to Leonard as part of a charity fundraising drive last year (15).

In video footage, Zachary Quinto, who now plays Spock on the big screen, called the veteran "an actor, a champion of the arts, and a true inspiration to so many" and the cast, including Zoe Saldana, John Cho and Idris Elba, give Spock's trademark Vulcan salute.

Simon was joined by producer J.J. Abrams at the Las Vegas convention on Monday (11Apr16). J.J. directed the first two new Star Trek movies, but handed the task over to Fast and Furious regular moviemaker Justin Lin for Beyond, and he has conflicted feelings about missing out on the daily shoots.

He said, "It was a very bittersweet thing because I love these people so seeing dailies (daily footage) and seeing them have the fun they had and doing what they do so well, and not being present was, on the one hand, wonderful because it was great to see, but on the other hand, I was envious of everyone there."

Simon presented J.J. with the CinemaCon Showman of the Year Award at the convention on Monday.

Leonard Nimoy died in February, 2015, aged 83.