This fall, one of the biggest franchises in sci-fi makes its way back to the small screen with the premier of Star Trek: Discovery. According to CBS, Discovery “will feature a new ship, new characters, and new missions, while embracing the same ideology and hope for the future that inspired a generation of dreamers and doers.” Today at San Diego Comic-Con, the cast and producers held a press conference to talk a little bit about the new series, where it stands with the rest of the Star Trek canon, and what it means to them to be involved in such a storied franchise.
Is there a day or two that has floored you, or memorable moments from filming so far?
Mary Wiseman (Cadet Sylvia Tilly): On the second or third day, a bunch of us rip down a hallway; we were going to run down a hallway and I didn’t realize it was going to be like 6 hours of a dead sprint, and I offered to go faster and everyone else was like “shut. up.” (laughter from cast)
Jame Frain (Ambassador Sarek): (There was) a scene in which I was with a large group of Vulcans… they were all dressed to the nines, they were incredibly stylish…it was a moment of full Vulcan-ness that felt fantastic.
Can you tell us about Commander Riker’s (Jonathan Frakes) involvement?
Jason Isaacs (Captain Gabriel Lorca): He’s still an actor…. as much as he’s very up tempo and funny and can barely be contained…he’s also very good at changing the nuance of the performances of the actors.
What was it like to walk onto the bridge and sit in the Chair?
Rainn Wilson (Harry Mudd): For me I grew up watching the original series….I built models of the Enterprise, I had books and had the Enterprise memorized…but to go on the ship and, without giving anything away, I got to use the transporter room, I got to be transported, and I got to use a phaser and I got to sit in the Captain’s chair a little bit. ….to relive that as a fan is one of the greatest life experiences.
Shazad Latif (Lieutenant Ash Tyler): …you can see how much incredible care and detail has gone into it and the first time I saw a phaser I thought my head was going to explode.
Sonequa Matrin-Green (First Officer Michael Burnham): Yeah, the moments happen all the time.
Isaacs: It’s incredible, eight-year-old fun to say “energize”… I like to be at the front where the action is as the Captain….. the stories, the original stories, were told at a time of enormous tumoil and…it was (about) a time in the future that we envisioned….the gadgets are fun and the sets are great…but what counts is what we put out there to show the next generation what we could become.
For Sonequa: I saw Nichelle Nichols, knew she was going to be here today, and couldn’t help but think it was like the passing of the baton because I always wanted her to take over…So you’re first officer and I am so proud of you. What’s it like for you, how’s it feel?
Martin-Green: I certainly stand on Nichelle’s shoulders. I think all of us stand on the shoulders of the Star Trek canon….understanding you really are one with all life and I don’t know if I can put it into words, and I feel like if I try I would cry….but just the honor and….it’s such a (fighting tears) privilege to be a part of a story that I, I truly believe is going to bring people together.
With 50 years of different iterations, what elements did you want to include to keep it classic but also go where no Trek has gone before?
Alex Kurtzman (Executive Producer): The defining factor of Roddenberry’s future is ….(he) envisioned a world where all species came together to make our world better….. We live in very troubled times. Every day we look at the news and it’s hard, it’s hard to see what we see. And I think now…Trek is needed as a buoy and a reminder of what we can be, of the best we can be….Star Trek has always been a mirror of (the time in which it is made).
Sonequa Martin Green asked about the switch from “gritty” Walking Dead to Star Trek:
Martin-Green: All good stories are gritty because life is gritty…. We explore acculturation and how when that happens it doesn’t have to mean assimilation….we don’t have to let go of who we are to learn who you are. we can do that at the same time….it’s touched on here in such a unique way….that honors the legacy but takes it to the next level.
Have you guys pushed anything to the limit with new tech?
Kurtzman (paraphrased): The show was delayed in order to push technology because they wanted to take it to the next level and find the people to develop the next thing and to define everything. It takes a good year to launch a show correctly and if you rush it you’re sacrificing quality. They didn’t want to do the bad version of this show, rather “take the hit” to make it good.
Being on Star Trek means that you are an automatic part of a legacy. What does it mean to know you are about to become icons?
Watching what’s come before us has been so inspiring.
Akiva Goldsman (Executive Producer): (We are) acutely aware of the legacy of the show. What is unique about this enterprise (see what I did there) is that there is so much love for the franchise…the creation of this show has become so much about family which is so fitting and correct….there is no whimsy to anybody’s commitment…there is a pride in getting to be the next holder of this baton as we pass it down the row. It is a pretty startling privilege that none of us take lightly.
The original Star Trek is big in Latin America. How are you going to appeal to Latinxs in this show?
Goldsman: I think that what we are committed to is a real fractal version of the universe. That diversity has become too easy of a word. We’re committed to complexity and the differences in cultures and the differences in biology and preference and inclusion. These were the principals on which star trek was founded so we chase those. our arms are as wide as they can be…the show’s mission is to be inclusive, so we’re very very purposeful about that and I think that you will see that as we move forward that that’s by no means an accident.
Will there be tribbles?
Wilson: I think there’s a tribble.
“Tribbles, yes, tribbles.” (not sure who said it)
There has been such a backlash against women and diversity at the moment, how do you foresee Star Trek pushing boundaries?
Martin-Green: I think it’s because we do it so boldly, I daresay., we do it so boldly but it’s also seamless which makes it organic. It’s normalcy in this show which is a kind of activism. Seeing these people…learn from each other I think it’s going to…change the conversation.
Paraphrasing other answers: You’ve heard of the Bechdel test, and I don’t think that women are ever talking about a man and it’s not to make a statement but just because that’s not the focus. Also this series includes the first openly gay character having a relationship on the show.
Star Trek: Discovery premiers on Sunday, September 24th, and will be available on CBS All-Access after the broadcast on CBS that evening. Season one is 15 episodes long with 8 episodes releasing before the winter hiatus, and the last 7 starting back in January 2018. Watch the trailer below.