EXCLUSIVE: Mary Wiseman On How Tilly Is Revealed As Best Theoretical Engineer On ‘Star Trek: Discovery’

TrekMovie had the chance to speak with always enchanting Mary Wiseman, who portrays the always enchanting Cadet Sylvia Tilly on Star Trek: Discovery, on the red carpet at the New York PaleyFest. She told us how she sees herself in Cadet Tilly, how Tilly, as the “best theoretical engineer on the ship”, becomes an integral member of the crew, and how her character brings levity to Discovery.

Watch the full interview and highlights below.

Mary Wiseman sees herself in Tilly

Fans have really taken a liking to Cadet Tilly as someone they can see themselves in. She’s smart and caring and just a little bit awkward. Mary Wiseman agrees and told TrekMovie that she sees a lot of herself in the character.

“I see a lot of myself in Tilly. Everything! Her excitement is unstoppable even when she requires some level of decorum. It feels so easy coming out of me because that’s how I feel being on the show. I totally get it that audience members see themselves in her, too. She’s great. She’s extraordinary and she’s everybody.”

Cadet Tilly is a whip-smart, integral member of the crew

Tilly may seem aloof and ditzy, but she is actually “whip-smart”, according to Wiseman. It turns out, Tilly is actually the best theoretical engineer on the ship, and her skillset becomes an important addition to the Discovery crew, making her an important part of the ship and its mission.

“She’s the best theoretical engineer on the ship. Since it’s Discovery, you can assume she’s pretty high up there just Starfleet wide. Yeah, she’s wicked smart. She’s whip-smart… You’ll see in later episodes you really get to see how capable she is and how her mind works.

The best part about that is she is super super smart but doesn’t necessarily come in the container that you expect. She’s goofy and excited and silly, but she’s whip-smart. ”

Wiseman’s favorite scenes are a little bit silly

When asked about her favorite scenes to film, Wiseman admitted that she loves any time Tilly can bring a bit of levity to the Discovery crew.

“There are so many fun ones. But, any time we get to be a little bit silly is really fun. There’s a scene coming up in a couple episodes where Michael is sort of mentoring Tilly. And, Tilly is, you know, staying in pace with [Michael], but she can’t quite keep up and is very intimidated and overwhelmed by Michael’s precision and determination. We got to have a lot of laughs that day. You’ll see, it’s kind of fun.”

More from PaleyFest to come

TrekMovie has more interviews with Discovery cast from PaleyFest NY 2017. These will be posted over the next few days so stay tuned.

Star Trek: Discovery is available exclusive in the US on CBS All Access with new episodes released Sundays at 8:30 pm ET. In Canada Star Trek: Discovery airs on the Space Channel at the same time. Discovery is available on Netflix outside the USA and Canada with new episodes made available Monday at 8 am BST.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.


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“Always enchanting”????????????Ugh. I’m already getting close to being burned out on her.

She’s like a cartoon character, smart but a complete lack of charisma… fairly one dimensional and laid on way too thick.

She reminds me of a slightly less awkward Reg. I like her.

Her and Reg should date if she wasn’t old enough to be his great grandmother.


Re: …if she wasn’t old enough to be his great grandmother.

Your age phobia has no place in a future civilization where Starfleet’s finest regularly date outside their species and Sarek WAS old enough to be Amanda’s grandfather.

How says the she ISN’T his grandmother!? :-D

She’s more like a result of a transporter accident in which a hybrid of Wesley Crusher and Neelix was created.

Ha ha you made me laugh a lot. I had not connected her with Reg, it’s a good comparison.

She reminds me of Lindsay Novak on SG1 who is smart and a little goofy (remember the hiccuping episode – Prometheus?)
I like Novak more at the moment.

If she’s the best theoretical engineer, then Neelix is the best ambassador in the whole fricking universe. What a joke… this cadet Silly.

Didn’t Reg save the Enterprise crew before and we wont even get into the fact that if it wasn’t for Reg, Voyager probably would’ve stayed lost in the Delta Quadrant a lot longer and not even known Starfleet was looking for them. If Reg can be that guy, I don’t have issues with Tilly at all…

@PEB… Finally someone that can actually think in more than one dimension. Unlike the regular immature hypocritical idiots in here that spew negativity just to troll.

Reg was a cool guy. Silly, I mean Tilly, however, is just… plain annoying.

What a mature, thought out comment.

I agree! Great addition to the conversation!

What a rote, all purpose pseudo-burn.

Nothing against a full-figured woman whatsoever – I’m rather fond of them, actually, but the problem I have with her (and the problem I had with Barclay) is that she has so many neuroses, I don’t see a credible way she would be assigned to any position in Starfleet, let alone to serve upon an experimental covert vessel. Despite her intelligence. She just seems a social and emotional wreck. ‘Enchanting?’ No. Maybe her character will become more interesting as we progress.

What are her neuroses? List them.

She mentioned she has allergies and snores and talks too much. None of which seem to be an issue with her work. The talking too much/nervousness could also come from being young and in a tense environment.

My initial concern was why would this cadet be on this secretive, experimental ship. But if she is very smart it actually makes sense. 1) she’s an expert in her field. 2) as a cadet she likely does what she’s told without questioning the why.

Reg was actually more of an issue because he had trouble existing in his environment and doing his job. Tilly does not appear to have any issue doing her job. She also seems rather insightful.

The part about her being a theoretical engineer confirms my first impression of her- that she is basically a female Sheldon Cooper who is on Discovery because of her talents.

And I, for one, would love to see Mary cosplay in a TOS uniform. :-)

Yup. We dont all have to share the same attractions but my goodness, the people actively taking part in discussions on a STAR TREK site body shaming someone is ridiculous. IDIC people!

You can bet that the biggest trolls are some really awesome physical specimens themselves, right?

Ms. Wiseman is a perfectly attractive young woman and, more to the point, seems to be a pretty good actress. Not everyone on television, or even genre television, needs to be some kind of a pinup.

They play her well too. One scene that jumped out at me was the first Black Alert when Michael came on board. She asked Tilly what was going on and Tilly said “if they didnt brief you, I cant tell you” and rolled away from her and sort of curled into a ball…not a ball but tightened into herself.

Im not sure if it was because of fear or nervousness over the Black Alert or a sort of intimidation of not being able to tell Michael or the burden of the secrets she had to keep to be there. But it spoke of her youth and personality that she was immediately uncomfortable in that moment.

She’s easily the best acted and most interesting and least annoying of the “young/whiz kid” role that every Trek series has.

Not all Starfleet enlisted and officers serve on ships but there seem to be a number of people on Discovery who wouldn’t typically serve on a Starfleet vessel. Lorca seems to be more concerned about people who can do the job and is then willing to figure out the rest later.

Mary Sue.

@Blob – you dont know what Mary Sue means.

Not sure why I need to remind people, but personal attacks are not allowed. Also body shaming is just not cool and not the kind of thing I want at TrekMovie.

This forum needs a like button.

It used to have likes and dislikes but too many complained about their posts being disliked. lol

Thank you, Anthony. I generally avoid the TrekMovie comments, but the negativity here is a new low (and that’s saying something). The body shaming is beyond shameful.

Wow. Just…wow. It’s been literally years since I’ve posted here and to see the super-bro level of body shaming that is going-on is disheartening. Can anyone see the irony in people who hold Star Trek (which is set in a universe where humanity has accomplished some of it’s best and yet still aspires to be better) with nearly religious regard and the amount of negativity here? Body shaming? Check. Name-calling? Check. General negativity? Plenty here!

As for as for the whining about Cadet Tilly and her social awkwardness, have you ever worked with real engineers and scientists? Some of the most brilliant, yet most socially awkward people I have ever known.

So she’s part Wesley Crushed and part Reg Barclay? Oy.