STLV17 Interview: Sam Vartholomeos and Wilson Cruz Give New Character Details, Talk Relationships on ‘Discovery’

After the Discovery actors took the stage here in Las Vegas, TrekMovie got a chance to chat with Sam Vartholomeos (Ensign Connor of the USS Shenzhou) and Wilson Cruz (Doctor Hugh Culber on the USS Discovery) about their characters. Sam also revealed his character’s first name for the first time, Ensign Danby Connor.

Getting to know Connor and Culber

Both Sam and Wilson revealed details about their characters, which so far we have learned very little about. Connor is a Starfleet man to the bone, and Culber has “a heart of gold.”

How is your first convention going?
Wilson Cruz: Awwweeeesommmmeee!
Sam Vartholomeos: Yeah!

Tell me a little bit about each of your characters. Who are they? What are they like?

SV: I play Ensign Danby Connor of the Shenzhou. He is Starfleet through and through, and that’s what I like about him. There are no conflicts with the Prime Directive, there are no conflicts with anything [from Starfleet]: their mission statement, nothing.

WC: I play Doctor Hugh Culber, the medical officer aboard the USS Discovery. He is the genius doctor you’ve always wished for with a heart of gold. He shares his heart with his fellow crew member Lt. Paul Stamets, played by Anthony Rapp.

I definitely want to ask you about that. You’re a part of Star Trek’s first gay couple on television, and certainly one that we will see for more than a couple of seconds on the screen. Do you feel a sort of responsibility there?

WC: [Laughs] Yeah. A deep, deep responsibility and great humility. But, you know, not overwhelmed by it. It just felt like it was a long time coming. I feel a responsibility to the thousands of LGBT fans, and so as I continue to play this character I feel like I keep them in mind, but I also want to be true to the writing that’s been given. What’s great about the way that the show is handling it is it’s not like we are having a special two-hour episode about gay relationships in space. It’s not that. They just happen to be in love, and they happen to be coworkers. And, I hope by the time we get to [the 23rd] century that it will be exactly like that. I think it’s a powerful message to send that in the future we will have same sex couples and little brown people in space who are doctors and scientists discovering the universe.

Wilson Cruz poses next to a Discovery medial uniform

Culber and Stamets’ Charged Relationship and Connor’s Crossed Wires

How would you describe the relationships between Culber and Stamets?

WC: The easiest and most succinct and… best way to keep my job answer is that… opposites attract.

Alright, intriguing! How about you, Sam, does your character have a lot of relationships close or otherwise? Maybe you go head-to-head with people sometimes? Who are the people that Ensign Connor interacts with?

SV: All I can say is that when someone goes against Starfleet or contradicts Starfleet, Connor’s wires get crossed. What do you do when your fellow colleague goes against that?

So, Connor is very by the book.

SV: That’s right, he’s very by the book.

WC: He’s a soldier through and through.

SV: Yeah, like I said, he’s Starfleet through and through.

Sam Vartholomeos reveals that Ensign Connor’s first name is Danby

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