SDCC17 Interview: Mary Wiseman Reveals Connection Between Cadet Tilly And Michael Burnham on ‘Star Trek: Discovery’

At San Diego Comic-Con we had the chance to speak to actress Mary Wiseman, who plays Cadet Tilly on Star Trek: Discovery. Yesterday we learned that Tilly’s first name is Sylvia, and then even more details emerged in a new exclusive interview with TrekMovie:

Tilly’s internship on Discovery and bunking with Burnham

Mary Wiseman on Cadet Sylvia Tilly’s place on the ship:

She is in her fourth year at Starfleet Academy and she is working on Discovery almost as an internship, is how I would think of it. She is super brilliant and on the best ship ever.

She works in engineering under Lt. Stamets [Anthony Rapp]. She spends a lot of time there doing great science and being super-intimidated and nervous.

On relationship with Sonequa Martin-Green’s Michael Burnham:

She ends up being roommates with Michael [Burnham, played by Sonequa Martin-Green] and they spark up an unlikely friendship.  [TM: A mentoring relationship?] Yeah, I would say so.

Cadet Tilly with her roomate Michael Burnham on the U.S.S. Discovery

Tilly as role model

Does she think Tilly will be a role model?

I hope so. I feel a lot of myself in this role and I know if I were a young girl it would have meant a lot to me to see to see someone like that.

Mary Wiseman as Cadet Tilly in Star Trek: Discovery

Mary Wiseman as Cadet Tilly in Star Trek: Discovery



More TrekMovie SDCC17 coverage

‘Discovery’ press conference report

‘Discovery’ panel report

New trailer and images from ‘Star Trek: Discovery’

IDW Panel reveals details for ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ and Boldly Go comics

See ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Federation and Starfleet Props and Costumes

See ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Klingon Costumes And Props

Klingon Torchbearer Revealed + Gentle Giant Announces Discovery Collectibles

‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Concept Art Details Klingon And Federation Ships

Stay tuned for even more coverage of San Diego Comic-Con.

Star Trek: Discovery premieres on September 24th on CBS with all subsequent episodes on CBS All Access in the US.  Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.

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So… it’s a Wesley Crusher? :o

originally Leslie crusher, but nobody knew how to write teenage girls

The only reference I ever found to him being originally called “Leslie” was a magazine article that cited him as a son of the doctor, but also spelled character names “Jordy Leforge,” “Will Ryker”, “Julian Picard”, and “Diana Troy.” The show was already filming, it was said.

Makes me wonder if the writer simply had interviewed a producer over the phone and misheard, or copied down a couple of the names incorrectly (“Wesley” misheard as “Leslie” and “Jean-Luc” written down as “Julian” because he couldn’t remember it right)

A lot of those changes were tiny ones, to screw Gerrold out of bible credit. Julien is one, how ‘data’ was pronounced — according to DG at the time, that rhymed with ‘that-a’ — is another. Justman is supposed to be the source for nobody knowing how to write a teen girl. I think some of this might be in the CONTINUING MISSION book, which in a lot of ways atones for earlier bad and inaccurate making-of work by the authors.

I’m not sure how accurate that is. The article I read was in a magazine published in the summer, but there’s a character description memo published online dated March that spells it “Geordi Laforge.” Besides which, Geordi was named after a fan named George LaForge.

I dunno, I don’t think it matters, and I have no doubt Gene would do something like that, but the article I read really seemed like a bunch of innocent audio mixups!

@kmart — you mean Leslie, as in Leslie Neilsen?

Seems different. Wes was much younger at the beginning, and was definitely not a fourth year Starfleet Academy cadet while serving on the ship. And I don’t believe Cadet Tilly’s mother is on-board Discovery. 😉

Not the same, but I see the comparison: the young prodigy and Starfleet hopeful. I trust though that there is a very different character and dynamic. Wesley was a whiz-kid brat (very 80s), this is an officer-in-training.

It makes sense. If their perspective is that all 4th year cadets would essentially do their practicum on a ship, then sure, show us that character.

They might use her as the on-ramp for young fans. The wide-eyed young girl who is a scientist but now on this ship who’s mission has seemingly changed to one of conflict.

While we have a Sarak/Burnham mentor/protege relationship, this allows a Burnham/Tilly relationship that is similar. So its a way to show Burnham as both a character still learning and one who is teaching.

I think every series had this young character. None as blatantly as Wesley on TNG. But DS9 had Bashir who was all wide eyed wanting to see the frontier, Voyager had Kim. TOS had Chekov though he wasnt overly explored in this way and they used random rd shirts in the “young” role from time to time. Enterprise had Sato and Mayweather.

So she is Chekov. Not Wesley. Maybe she is not either.

Depends on whether the character is annoyingly “über-brilliant” or just “Starfleet-standard fare-brilliant”.

I don’t think she’ll be a prodigy but it sounds like she’ll be the shy brainy girl. Wesley was never…humble…about his smarts lol

Oh, so trekmovie has customised convention interview mics. Sweet!

I wonder why a first officer is rooming with a cadet? I would expect her to be in the “lower decks” with other officers close to her in rank while Burnham’s gets a room to herself due to her seniority.

Also I thought Staments was a fungi expert so why would they be working in engineering and not a science lab? Is it just for a specific storyline or is it full time? Also do we know yet what her major is at the academy?

Burnham’s status might be as a special case (possibly demoted), maybe like Tom Paris at start of VOYAGER. If not, then yeah this reeks of contrivance.

When all that destruction is going on -on the Shenzhou(sp)- it could be the USS Discovery that comes in and rescues Burnham and any other survivors. She may start off as just being on the ship and not necessarily a part of her crew until she decides to shrug off the guilt or whatever emotions she’s feeling about the destruction of her previous ship and captain and much of the crew -probably due to a bad judgment call on her part- which at that point she officially gets brought on by the Captain. Maybe…

Well to be fair, the quote is “She ends up being roommates” so it doesn’t look like it’s by design.

Some good theories here. Or it could be that there are different concepts in terms of crew living arrangements, possibly putting younger officer candidates with experienced crew as mentors. Regardless, she looks like a fun character.

Ok y’all, here we go:

Tilly is a cadet (in operation bronze) who works in engineering with Stamets who is a scientist who specializing in fungai. He isn’t an engineer. At some point Burnham walks into what looks like a cargo bay and looks a room filled with what looks like moving, living fungai. Lorca says they’ve found a new way to fly.

Ok. I’m wondering is there a similarity to VOY: Eqinox.

Either way, there is something “fungy” going on here!

I took Lorca’s quote to be more metaphorical than literal. I don’t know what he’s talking about really, and maybe they are speaking literally, but I got the sense that he was speaking in the abstract.

I don’t know the Voyager episode referenced, but that’s a cool idea, organically dependent space-travel. Sort like the Spice-driven navigation of Dune. Kind of works with the non-standard look of Discovery, too. (Although if it involves tripping on Magic Mushrooms to steer the ship, maybe not so much. ;-D )

Equinox is one of the better 2-parters on VOY, and has a lot of obvious parallels with the BSG “Pegasus” storyline.

Good idea about the space fungi!

Hopefully she doesn’t talk like that on the show. (Try reading my comment as if there’s a hidden question mark at the end of the sentence and you’ll understand what I mean.)

I hope you don’t speak to people like that in real life. Try reading my comment in a condescending sexist way and you’ll understand what I mean.

…and the character is American. Or possibly Scottish with a fake accent, to make the show appeal to international audiences.

Is it wrong of me to say that I think she looks prettier in the show?

Note to interviewer – what cadet Tilly is going through on the ship is usually referred to as a “Midshipman Cruise” undertaken by cadets before completing their final year at the Academy. The Star Trek equivalent might be named differently. Just throwing that out there. The idea that a cadet would rack up with a senior officer is somewhat new, though. Another junior, yes. But hey, whatever makes for story expediency, I guess.