Anson Mount, Rebecca Romijn, Ethan Peck, Celia Rose Gooding, Melissa Navia, Jess Bush and Bruce Horak discuss the latest Star Trek series at the 56-year mission in Las Vegas
members of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Cast gathered for a panel discussion during the 56 year mission (formerly Star Trek Las Vegas) this weekend to talk about the first season of the critically acclaimed series, how they were cast for their roles, and a hint at what’s in store for them in season two.
The nearly hour-long discussion took place on the Friday of the four-day event and included AnsonMount (Captain Christopher Pike), Rebekah Romijn (Number One) and Ethan Pick (Spock), along with Celia Rose Gooding (Nyota Uhura), Melissa Navia (Erika Ortegas) Jess Bush (Christine Chapel) and Bruce Horak (inhibitor).
First up was the series’ lead man, Anson Mount, who plays Captain Christopher Pike. A role originally played by an actor Jeffrey Hunter in the first star trek Pilot “The Cage” and in the flashback scenes of “The Menagerie”.
When asked if he looked at Hunter’s original performance as Pike, Mount revealed that he only admitted that his version of the character was in a very different place in his life, saying:
“I went back and watched [The Original Series episodes] “The Cage” and “The Menagerie” but for me yes [was] Pike in a very different part of his life – so I didn’t take away a lot from what Jeffrey did.”
Mount was asked if he could be cast as Pike discoverywhere he first appeared in the season 2 premiere “Brother”.
“The cast was absolutely inviting – special [series lead] Sonequa [Martin-Green]. It was pretty smooth in that regard, but it’s weird coming up with it [a series] where you’re the new guy.”
He went on to say that he was initially unaware that a spinoff series was in the works, but noted that special attention was given to the Enterprise set.
“We noticed that they are spending a lot of money on the Enterprise bridge.”
He noted that it was the executive producer of Star Trek Alex Kurtzman who first told him they were getting their own series.
When asked how it feels to be a Star Trek captain, Mount spoke with authenticity in his voice and said:
“It’s so completely surreal and makes me so happy. Every day I wake up and I’m like, “Wow, I’m on Star Trek,” and not just Star Trek…but a captain.”
Actress Rebecca Romijn was next, first discussing her upcoming CBS reality series The real love boat – which she shares with her husband (and Lower decks voice actor) Jerry O’Connell. She went on to discuss how she plays Number One/Una Chin-Riley discovery and now further Strange New Worlds.
Discussion of the role first played by Majel Barett In the original Star Trek pilot, Romijn said:
“It starts with Majel – but I think there was only 13 minutes of screen time for Number One. In this episode, we really just saw her carry out the tasks at hand. She wasn’t really a fleshed out character. The opportunity to find the levels in this character was amazing. I took everything I could from her performance… to infuse her… but going forward, we’re taking our own artistic liberties and expanding.”
In the third episode of the first season “Ghosts of Illyria” it was revealed that Number One is a member of the genetically engineered group of Illyrians. When genetic modification was banned, Romijn found similarities in her Strange New Worlds Character and one she played in another popular franchise:
“Without revealing anything about season two, I don’t know how to really address this. It will be expanded in the second season. I probably shouldn’t say this, but I kept going back to when I was playing Mystique (in the X-Men film franchise) and it’s somehow connected. I had little dialogue in season two that was literally word for word things I said in season two X-Men Series. Those are two characters I can identify with.”
Following Romijn, actor Ethan Peck discussed taking on the unenviable task of playing such an iconic character – one made famous by the legend Leonard Nimoy.
“It’s an incredibly beautiful burden, but a burden nonetheless.”
When asked how it feels to play Spock and if he feels the weight of it, Peck said:
“Ask me that in ten years. Right now it’s this thing that’s hard to integrate into my reality. I just experience it and have the experiences written for me on set. I’m incredibly grateful for that.”
Celia Rose Gooding
Celia Rose Gooding is the second actress to play Uhura in the prime timeline, and she reprises the role made famous by the trailblazer Nicole Nichols in The original series and the following feature films.
Gooding revealed that she never had the opportunity to meet Nichols but accepted that fact, saying:
“I haven’t and I make my peace with that. I am a very spiritual person and I know without a doubt that we are so incredibly connected – I feel her presence everywhere which is a gift. She gave so much of herself to this franchise and I’m just so lucky to be a fraction of her legacy.”
Next came Colombian-American actress Melissa Navia, who plays Erica Ortegas in the series. Navia seemed genuinely proud to be a member of the long-running franchise, saying:
“It’s a dream role – to play the helmsman of the USS Enterprise… it doesn’t get any better than that.”
Speaking further about the audition process, Navia said that due to the global pandemic, everything was done through Zoom video conferencing software. Before she knew if she got the part or not, she said she was at peace with the outcome, but when she finally got the call that she had been chosen to play Ortegas, her reaction was, “OK, let’s do that !“
After Melissa Navia came Australian actress and artist Jess Bush. She spoke about Nurse Chapel and Spock’s on-screen relationship on the show, but didn’t want to reveal if we’d be continuing that relationship in season two. When asked about this, she said:
“No comment. Your guess is as good as mine.”
When discussing whether she had seen Majel Barrett’s performance as Nurse Chapel, Bush confirmed that she had, but has also attempted to expand on the foundation laid, saying:
“There was a distinct essence [Majel Barrett’s] Chapel. There was a lot of room for development – her sarcastic, dry nature – so I used that to create what she is now.”
Horak revealed that Paramount was specifically looking for a visually impaired actor to play the role of Hemmer, saying:
“As a visually impaired man myself, the door opened and as a Star Trek fan, I jumped in.”
Horak, who also auditioned via Zoom, said the scene he auditioned with was the meeting between Hemmer and Shura. “Everything in that scene convinced me,” added Horak.
The second season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds expected to be released on Paramount+ in early 2023.
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