Our coverage of Star Trek Discovery at New York Comic Con 2018 continues with more roundtable interviews from the Press Room…
Anthony Rapp & Wilson Cruz
How does the second season impact your characters? Especially yours, Anthony, having lost so much?
ANTHONY RAPP: It’s the opportunity for it all to settle, and resonate, and the ripple effects from it to all be felt. And then, sort of, what tumbles out of that. It’s been really, really satisfying that I’ve had the chance to go there. Cause there’s wasn’t time. There was a little moment with Tyler in Season 1, and there was holding the medal, but there wasn’t a lot of time and space to really reckon what had happened because we were saving the universe and going to war.
WILSON CRUZ: Even Culber didn’t really get to deal with being dead. Because he spent most of his time in the mycelial network trying to get [Stamets’s] attention so that we could save the universes. You’re welcome. So even Culber, this season, you’ll see, has had to deal with the ramifications of … snapping his neck.
In the panel, it was implied that there are some themes in this season that will intertwine with what we’re, in real life, going through right now. What are these themes?
RAPP: It’s so hard to talk about because of spoilers. Without going into detail about Spock’s journey, there are things about people who are thought to be one way, and discovered to be another way. But it’s not – nothing is a direct – We don’t have sexual harassment on our show, for instance. We’re not telling stories about that. But we are telling stories about getting to the truth of the matter, and what people in power might do to advance their agendas.
CRUZ: I think the most powerful thing this show does is model – without even speaking about the issue – diversity and the importance of it. That diversity is valuable to teamwork, and how we work much better together. Respecting and valuing people’s differences, the strengths that people being that are different. There’s no conversation about that, but you turn on the show and it’s sitting in front of you that these people look like the world that we live and they are doing heroic things.
RAPP: Also, the unintended consequences… You know, you can have good intentions, trying to do good by someone or something, but it turns out that maybe there are some things that are doing damage that you don’t intend. That’s something that’s certainly relevant in our world that we’re waking up to.
A lot of us in the queer community have been waiting for you two on Star Trek for 52 years. What has the fan response been like? How has your last year been since the show aired?
RAPP: It’s been 99.999% incredibly positive, and the occasionally someone puts out, like, a vomit emoji.
CRUZ: It’s so minimal, it’s a blip, if anything, on our radar. Overwhelmingly, the response has been enthusiastic and really grateful. That’s what’s been the most moving, is the gratitude that people come to speak to us with when we go to conventions, or when we meet someone on the street. It’s the gratitude that they present to us, and it’s moving to me, I know it’s moving to [Anthony], and it puts a little pressure on us to make sure that we’re getting it right. Which I enjoy.
Wilson, what was your reaction when they said it’s not over for you?
CRUZ: I was ecstatic. I was really thrilled. I can talk about this – I’m a series regular, last year I was recurring. But I’m here, now. If the work that I’ve been asked to do this season is a clue to how the rest of the run is going to be for me, I couldn’t be more elated.
Anthony, you’re always sharing what you’re reading on social media. How are you finding the time to read so much?
RAPP: There are times when sometimes I’ll work 3 days a week, sometimes I work 5 days a week, sometimes I work 2 days a week. And on the set, too, between scenes sometimes – it depends on what scene I’m doing – sometimes it’s nice to turn my brain off from that for a minute. But it’s also the stuff I’ve been reading has been so inspiring itself, that it just feeds everything. And there are other big readers on the set. Anson’s a big reader. Ethan’s a big reader. So we’re nerding out together.
What are you reading right now?
RAPP: Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany. Which is a 52-, 51-year-old novel about linguistics, which is really fantastic.
CRUZ: I can’t read on set. I just… can’t.
RAPP: You know what really inspired me to get back was Ursula LeGuin dying. I’d read a couple of her things, and I wanted to read more and now I have to. And N.K. Jemisin‘s work is unbelievable.
Mary Wiseman & Doug Jones
On the panel, you said that we will learn more about your species and your character. Can you tell us a bit more?
DOUG JONES: Well, we visit my home planet of Kaminar, and it takes up the better portion of an episode in the middle of the season. The most interesting part of that is, as a prey species, who’s the predator? We haven’t heard anything about that yet. And how much fear have I come from, and lived in, and grown up in? That’s all gonna be answered. So when my threat ganglia flair on the bridge and I have to kind of quietly push them back in, years and decades – all my angsty teenage years – go into that moment. And you’ll find out why. And you’ll see my home planet’s quite gorgeous, though. It looks much like a vacation spot when you see it. So there’s the dichotomy of, you know, we’re hunted and we’re culled there, but it also looks so peaceful and serene. So you have mixed feelings about Kaminar.
The Saru short that’s coming in December, that appears to be more back story for Saru. Would you say those two stories are connected?
JONES: It is. They’re very much connected. And you’ll see breadcrumbs in both that relate to each other. All the shorts are very different from each other, by the way, and they take place in different time periods and with different characters, and different styles, even. Mine is a direct tie-in to an episode of Season 2.
Speaking of the shorts, we just saw “Runaway” this week and got more story about Tilly and her mom, in particular. We also have an upcoming Tilly novel coming in the winter. Do you know if, and how much more we’ll see of Tilly’s background? She seems to come from such an unhappy childhood, but she’s such a caring, giving, and loving individual.
MARY WISEMAN: She’s very in touch with someone telling her to not be herself. I think that she has a critic in her life, and a critic in her head, that is present. Definitely Tilly’s mom is something that I’ve been talking with the writers and producers about almost the whole time. There have been a couple times that maybe she was going to show up in the show, and just hasn’t, so she’s been working on me for a long time. So to get to actually have a scene with someone, it was really nice. Because people are products of the people who raise them, and the people who surround them. That constructs so much of who a person is. So I was very excited and delighted to get the opportunity to play a scene like that. I don’t know how much more will be in the future, but I really love it and I really hope for more of it because it’s important.
Does anything in Season 2 reference back to this short?
WISEMAN: No, my short is a bit more freestanding. As of now. Who knows how they’ll weave it in in the future. But she will keep making comments about her mother. I think she’ll do that until the day she expires from this mortal coil.
JONES: It’s almost a lovely, happy aside when you do. We always kind of take it out in a dramatic moment.
It was interesting when it was revealed (in the short) that Tilly has a step-sister. Do you have any idea what that relationship was like, aside from how her mother described it?
WISEMAN: That’s very interesting to me, too, and I have my own ideas about what that means and what that relationship is. But the writers have not filled me in on everything. I think you can tell from the short that maybe it’s someone who Tilly is compared to, maybe someone who’s more approved of in her life. But I’m anxious to see, also, more about who that person is. Who both of those women are.
Doug, would you talk about all of the prosthetics you have to put on?
JONES: That’s just my lot in life, isn’t it? After 32 years of playing creatures and monsters, who would I play on Star Trek? Ah, an alien! But this one is actually a mercifully short process for me. Months and months of sculpting, painting, and designing work go into all the pieces that are made. Getting it onto me is only about an hour-and-a-half a day. That is really, really short to do an alien transformation. So it’s not as bad as you think. And it’s only head and hands. I get to wear a Starfleet uniform like everybody else. Except the boots, I mean. The boots, of course, put me in a high heel position without a heel. I’m teetering on the balls of my feet, in some pain if I have to stand for too long.
WISEMAN: Poor Doug! He’s a saint.
JONES: (joking) It’s hard being me, you guys!
WISEMAN: Also, we pointed out the other day that everybody else on the bridge has a seat except for Doug.
JONES: I’ve got a standing position at my console. Of course, put the guy in horrible shoes and make him stand.
Could you talk about what Saru’s relationship or reaction would be to Captain Pike coming and taking over the ship? The last time we saw the story, it was your ship, at least temporarily.
JONES: Well, that was temporary. We all knew that. I knew that, I announced that to the crew. I’m Acting Captain. But I thought we’d at least get a trip in to go find our new captain. I think we were headed to Vulcan to get that accomplished. Intercepted along the way – that I did not expect. To have our trip cut so short, and to be met nose to nose with the Enterprise. And as you can see, Captain Pike boards us, and he outranks me, so CRAP. But as first officer, I still get my moments in the captain’s chair whenever the captain isn’t there, and I do have to take charge. And again, Saru is on that evolutionary arc of, like, “fear ganglia, okay get over it, push ‘em back in, make decisions, there’s a whole crew of people depending on you.” So I do have to grow through that, again and again and again.
Your species is unexplored, basically, in the canon. Does that give you freedom put some stuff in yourself? Can you suggest things that would be incorporated into the species?
JONES: Being that it’s such a writer’s medium, that’s really their job. I give them nuances and quirks that maybe the writers don’t write, that I can bring to it – as any actor would do with their role. But that has been fun for me to not have to copy anybody else’s quirks from a past generation of Kelpiens, because I’m the first.
Come back for our last post from NYCC tomorrow – an interview with Mary Chieffo and Shazad Latif.