It’s time to power up the bridge and boldly go on the next adventure as Trek delivers its latest offering, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, a new episodic series that promises to bring all the fun and optimism of The Original Series. Leading the cast are Anson Mount, Ethan Peck and Rebecca Romijn, each reprising their Discovery roles. Mount returns as Christopher Pike, the captain of a beautifully designed USS Enterprise, Peck as a baby-faced version of science officer Spock and Romijn as Pike’s right-hand woman Una Chin-Riley, also known to fans of Discovery as Number One.
Strange New Worlds has been a long time coming. Following the fantastic fan reaction to the main trio’s arc in Discovery, Mount actually began actively campaigning for an Original Series prequel that would bring back the Enterprise with Pike at the helm, flanked by his two most respected Starfleet officers.
“This will be no surprise but I’ve never had a fan response to anything I’ve done like that,” says Mount. “I didn’t expect it and it’s crazy to me because, you know, you go to acting school and learn to bend and morph yourself into all these shapes and then along comes a role that fits pretty well, you don’t need to really screw around with your look or your persona too much. Pike is, in many ways, the closest to myself character I’ve ever played, so it’s ironic – or maybe it’s not, maybe it’s poetic – that people respond more to that than all the stuff I train for.”
Clearly not wanting to let a good thing go, showrunner Alex Kurtzman announced in early 2020 that ideas for a Pike-led spin-off series were being tossed around. Covid-19 obviously hit three months later and brought production to a halt. Since then, the cast and crew of Strange New Worlds have been filming the show between lockdowns and restrictions.
Now, more than three years after Mount’s initial campaign, it’s finally hitting screens with the launch of Paramount’s new streaming service, Paramount+. For the show’s stars, finally stepping back into their Starfleet-issued boots was a great feeling.
“It felt amazing on a variety of levels,” remembers Mount. “None of us had worked in over a year and it felt really good to get back on a set, it felt good then to start working on it, and it feels good now to [know] that people are finally going to see it. And it was also great to see Ethan and Rebecca again. We had a great time, a super time on Discovery together. We are blessed with having similar senses of humour, and we truly enjoy going to work because of each other. And the new cast has really added to that… There’s no weak link in this chain. We really got lucky.”
For Peck, donning Spock’s signature helmet haircut and frowny face brows brought about a mixture of emotions. “Oh gosh, it was crazy!” he says with a laugh. “I wasn’t sure that the journey as Spock would continue for me after Discovery. We didn’t know we were doing this show until a year later, I think, at least. It might have been more – the last couple of years have been such a blur! So coming back to the character was again really intimidating.
“When I was first cast in the role I was so overwhelmed by the responsibility of it. I knew that I would have to undergo a very profound journey of self-discovery, personally and as an actor. It’s not every day or every life that one gets called to do that. And so I’m just so grateful for that. And yeah, I just hoped that I could do it!
“I think Strange New Worlds depicts Spock in a way that he’s never been depicted before, which is a very nuanced version of him,” Peck continues. “It’s a version of him that we’ve never seen before. We get to go into his inner life. What’s his world like behind closed doors? What does he struggle with? What is he like romantically? These are things that I don’t think have been down with the character before, at least in the amount of depth that we go into with it.”
Unlike Mount and Peck, who play characters that have been portrayed on screen a number of times, Romijn’s Una Chin-Riley was more or less a blank slate. The First Officer made her screen debut in The Original Series’ pilot episode ‘The Cage’, played by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s future wife Majel Barrett, and wasn’t seen again until Romijn brought her to life in Discovery.
“The writers are a really impressive team that have been fleshing out this character, as well as me, and we’re excited!” Romijn enthuses. “She’s very good at her job, she takes her work very seriously, she’s very fastidious and meticulous… There’s a big development for her character in the first three episodes, which will continue to develop and be explored.
“When they first floated the idea I was beside myself, so excited, and it’s been a really interesting bit to play. It’s been really fun.”