EXCLUSIVE: Wilson Cruz On Culber As Wartime Doctor And The Love Story With Lt. Stamets

In last night’s episode of Star Trek: Discovery we got our first scenes featuring the romantic relationship between Dr. Culber and Lt. Stamets. At New York PaleyFest last weekend, TrekMovie had a chance to have a chat with actor Wilson Cruz about that first-of-its-kind relationship for Star Trek. He also spoke to us about his character of Culber and how he prepared to play a Star Trek doctor. The full video interview and highlights are below.

A wartime doctor inspired by past Trek doctors

Wilson Cruz talked about his character Dr. Hugh Culber, saying:

Dr. Culber is a great doctor. He loves what he does. It is wartime so it’s pretty important to keep people alive. Sometimes I fail. There is only so much I can do, even in the future.

During the NYCC press conference the actor talked about how he did research on past Star Trek doctors, and told us how that informed his role for Discovery:

I wasn’t trying to emulate [past Star Trek doctor characters]. I just wanted to see how they fit into the casts and how they used the doctors in the series. I wanted to make sure I was following in that tradition. What I found is that if Spock was the brain and Kirk was the body, then McCoy was the heart, and he really was. I think that of all of them. I think of Beverly Crusher in the same way. So, I wanted to make sure that there was an aspect of that. I think [showrunners] Aaron [Harberts] and Gretchen [Berg] were thinking that as well.

Doug Jones as Lieutenant Saru; Wilson Cruz as Dr. Hugh Culber; Anthony Rapp as Lieutenant Paul Stamets

A matter of fact love story

The actor also talked about how the show portrays what is the first same-sex couple on a Star Trek TV show:

[Culber] is madly in love with Paul Stamets, our astro-mycologist, [played by] Anthony Rapp, my friend of twenty years. I love the way that relationship is being treated. It is just a matter of fact. Our story line together is about how you balance you life as partners and your work as you work together. It can be tricky, because one can step on the toes of the other. 

And picking up on our previous interview with Anthony Rapp, Cruz talked about how Culber is one of the ways that we see Stamets showing his softer side:

I love that [Stamets] is prickly. The reason why I love that he is prickly is because he is the smartest person that I know and I am in awe of his genius. So he is opinionated and I find it humorous and allow him to be who he is, knowing that I am going to love him because of it. But, I also think through our relationships you are going to see another side of him.

Wilson Cruz as Dr. Hugh Culber; Anthony Rapp as Lieutenant Paul Stamets

 More from PaleyFest

Jason Isaacs Needed To Know Everything About Lorca Before Starting ‘Star Trek: Discovery’

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

Akiva Goldsman Explains Episode 9 Switch And Why Discovery is TV-MA

Shazad Latif On Lt. Tyler’s Inner Turmoil And Chemistry With Burnham

Anthony Rapp On How Stamets Mellows Out And How He Isn’t The New Scotty

TrekMovie has more interviews with the 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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I loved the final scene of ‘Choose Your Pain’ between Dr. Culbert and Stamets. It was a nice moment between two people who clearly love each other doing something very domestic and having a couples type conversation. I liked how absolutely natural it was. For all the people shouting about how ‘diversity is being shoved down our throat’ this scene is a nice counterpoint. I want to see more of this relationship as I want to see more of Discovery. This show has exceeded my expectations in part because of they way they show human beings in a more natural context

I will say that while I would have preferred a different ending for the episode I did like their domestic moment. It was well done by both actors and we got a shot of the Federation issued pajamas. Curious though as to way the producers didn’t give him some information about Bashir. As a war time doctor he could have taken some inspiration from how he coped. IMO Bashir is more of his counterpart than any of the other Doctors listed.

Very true, Bashir should be the very model of a wartime doctor in Star Trek. Still, I’m liking Culbert so far. Whatever Cruz is prepping with, is working.

It seems a little strange that people are saying “we want a gay relationship to not be a thing, just natural” which I agree with. But why is it every time there is an article about Culber & Stamets the “gay relationship” is the focus? It seems like the only people making a big fuss over it are the people who are telling people to not make a big fuss over it.

: I feel like the way have done the relationship on screen is a very low key and natural. I never felt like they were advertising that they were a couple in the last episodes,it was only the final scene last night that showed their relationship in a very natural context. I hope the haters do ‘get over it’ and see it for what it is , a normal relationship between two beings

Thing is, would we have the same “very natural” requirements for any straight couple on screen? I’m fairly certain that if they were a straight couple being shown for the first time in an “oh, they’re a couple” way, they’d have kissed.

You don’t get it. Which is fine. But just because you don’t get it doesn’t mean everyone else should get over it

The reason it’s a focus in the media and among the actors is precisely because it’s still a thing. Trump just made a joke about the VP wanting to hang gay people and you wonder why it’s unportant to focus on the natural aspect of a same sex relationship?

Oh boy

Because unfortunately there are still plenty of people in this world who are bigots and have an issue with it. Within the show itself it is best it is portrayed as natural, but outside of it I think it is good to draw attention to it so that more and
more people can learn that homosexuality is not something to be fearful of or repulsed by.

Yeah. I think there are people that don’t even realize they are bigoted. They are the ones that come here and say gee whats the big deal, I don’t care if you’re gay, why do we need to talk about it, why do they show it etc.

Those people should sit back and think about why its painfully obvious that media, actors and fans see it as an important development but why they don’t and maybe keep quiet if they cant work through it in their own minds.

I understand the responses…but do they have to start & finish with GAY! every time they talk about these two characters? I’m really bored by this constant focus. It’s no big deal for trekkies…it’s what makes us great, so can we start talking about their acting? or their story arcs? or hell…even their bloody hair and clothing? just enough with the great celebration over them being naturally gay. Who cares?

, you’re not obligated to take part.

Maybe because it is the only relationship so far in the show?

How many questions were asked about how Commander Landry apparently “liked liked” Captain Lorca? How many questions have been asked about Michael Burnham’s possible love interest? The first thing asked about Lt. Tyler was “is he Burnham’s bf?”

Culber/Stamets aren’t being treated differently.

Their actual friendship really helps give a genuine chemistry together on screen.

great scene, you can sense their feelings for each other and how genuine it came off. Both of them are great and I look forward to more episodes!

Hopefully it has some action needed plot and doesn’t devolve into TNG Young and the restless territory. One gets captured, other will do whatever to save other; one dies and it’s a quest for revenge or whatever. If I wanted to watch dating I’d watch the Bachelor, seriously.

Yeah, I always found the Trek relationships uninteresting and forced — it always seemed like filler.

There’s some of that I wouldn’t mind…

Actually I had no idea both actors were actually gay until now. Thats a nice touch, having real gay actors in the roles instead of just playing one on TV. ;)

Jadzia Dax and Lenara were hotter :P

Well you just totally destroyed my argument. I don’t even remember what it was. I can only think about Jadzia and Lenara locking lips now. DS9 was just great TV! ;D

I don’t know. Wilson Cruz is all kinds of hot. And dude looks like he can bench press a house

Oh wow…didn’t know both actors were gay in real life.

Wow…didnt know both actors were gay in real life.

Super disappointed they glossed over the real questions like “How awesome was My So-Called Life?” and “Jered Leto was an actor on that show who wanted to be a rockstar and now he is, how cool is that?”

My So Called Life ….ah my youth…

Had to change my name a little so as to not be confused with the other Sean on here.
As a straight man I will say this, it is about time they incorporate same sex couples in Star Trek. Be it male/male or female/female. I know plenty of gay people. One was a friend (past tense due to him taking his own life). I like how they have it so it’s not a “these guys are gay” and focus on it. They made it natural just like they would if it was a male/female couple. As it should be. A person is a person regardless of their skin color, sex, sexual identity, or everything in between.