After participating in an exciting and revelatory Comic-Con panel, the cast and creatives of Star Trek: Discovery sat for a press conference attended by media from across the country and, in some cases, across the world.
A female African-American journalist noted that she saw Nichelle Nichols at the convention center, and she couldn’t help but think how it’s a passing of the baton, to the joy of many people in her community, to see Sonequa Martin-Green as First Officer Michael Burnham. “I certainly stand on Nichelle Nichols’ shoulders,” Martin-Green said. “I think all of us stand on the shoulders of the innovation, as being in the Star Trek canon up to now, all of the progression, and how this is really a story of universality, how this is the story of coming together and understanding that you are one with all of life. I don’t know if I can put this into words. I feel, honestly, if I try, I would cry and it would just get really messy up here. But just… the honor… Daggonit, I’m starting to cry. It’s such a… privilege to be a part of the story that I truly believe… is going to bring people together.”
James Frain, who plays Sarek, recounted a day early on in production that made him realize he was fully immersed in the Star Trek universe. “There was a scene in which I was with a large group of Vulcans,” Frain said. “The costume design of the Vulcans in this is phenomenal. They were all dressed to the nines. It was incredibly stylish. It was like being in the best club ever, except that there was no music and people didn’t talk to each other. But it was a moment of just full Vulcan-ness that felt fantastic.”
Rainn Wilson, a lifelong fan of TOS, built U.S.S. Enterprise models, read books about the ship and knew where everything was. Shooting his two episodes to date, he lived out his dream. “I did get to use the transporter room,” he enthused. “I got transported, and I got to use a phaser. And I got to sit in the captain’s chair a little bit. So, just iconic creations from Gene Roddenberry and his original staff. So, to get to relive those as an adult fan was just one of the greatest life experiences.”
Executive producer Alex Kurtzman spoke of the challenge of steeping the new show in classic Star Trek while taking Discovery where no Star Trek has gone before. “I think that first and foremost the defining factor of Roddenberry’s vision is the optimistic view of the future, and the idea that he envisioned a world where all species, all races… where we not only try to make our world better, but we try to make every world better,” he said. “I think that’s something that can never be lost in Trek. I think, once you lose that, you lose the essence of what Star Trek is. That being said, we live in very troubled times, and every day we look at the news and it’s hard to see what we see. I think that now, more than ever, Trek is needed as a reminder and a buoy for what we can be, the best of who we can be… Star Trek has always been a mirror to the time which it reflected, and right now the idea of how we preserve and protect what Starfleet is in the wake of a challenge like war, and the things that must be done in war, is a very interesting and dramatic problem and feels like a very topical one give in the world that we live in now. So, that is what we are always trying to do, to maintain, but the optimism is the thing we must always hold on to as the torch for Roddenberry’s vision and for the future of Trek.”
Jason Isaacs, though, really put the whole, pardon the pun, enterprise, into perspective with his comments — which he made moments before leaving the event early to attend the wedding. “I tell people often, it’s true that it’s incredible 8-year-old fun to say ‘energize’ or point a phaser or sit in the chair, although I try to avoid sitting in the chair as much as possible. The bridge may be the place where all the action happens, but it’s where a bunch of people sit still or stand still. I don’t like to stare at the screen. I prefer to get up front where the action is and act like a conductor as the captain. But, actually, none of that matters to me. I’m running out in two seconds to join my friend who is marrying his longtime boyfriend. The stories, the original stories in the 1960s were told in a time of turmoil, during the civil rights movement, and we are upholding the vision of the future that Gene Roddenberry created, where people have found a solution to divisions between people at a time when the outside world seems to be getting more divisive and rolling back much of the things we take for granted. So, for me, the gadgets are fun and the sets are great and I’m sure we’ll have the wiz-bang stuff you wish for, but what counts is what we’re putting out there and what we’re showing the next generation of what we could become as a planet instead of what we might become — and that’s what I love about it.”
Star Trek: Discovery will debut September 24 on CBS All Access in the U.S. and Space Channel in Canada. The series will premiere on Netflix in the rest of the world on September 25.
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