TrekMovie had a chance to speak to some of the cast and crew of Star Trek: Discovery at a press event on Friday, including actor Wilson Cruz. His character, Dr. Hugh Culber, was killed off in the first season, and we talked about the mystery of his return and what Culber will be up to in season two. We also discussed how the death of the character was handled in the media. (Video of the interview is below the transcript)
Culber is really coming back, not as a flashback or a ghost
How conscious and how much do you guys on set talk about the online fan community, and feedback on every episode?
We are aware. We don’t live in a bubble. We like to hear what people think. That’s why we do it. Most of us come from the stage. We like to hear some reaction from an audience. When you are doing a TV show, the only way you can do that is online.
I think we enjoy the passion that the fandom brings to this. We feel a sense of responsibility while we are doing this, to our fans to make sure we are making something they are going to be wowed by. So, we are aware.
And what’s been really fun for the past year in my case is to have read all the different theories about how I would be returning. And nobody has gotten it yet, which is pretty cool. But I love reading that stuff.
The way you return, would you say it is something they haven’t done in Star Trek before?
But it’s not just a flashback. You are back in some way. You are interacting, people are talking to you. You are not a ghost.
Correct. I can say that.
He’s now a main cast member with a lot to do in season 2
Would you say your role is more or less significant than last season, where you were in maybe half the episodes?
Last season I was recurring because I was doing 13 Reasons Why at the same time, and this year I am not recurring.
So, you are main cast?
You are in episode 201?
No. [Pauses] Ah, maybe. [smiles]
You are the worst [laughs]
I am the worst, because I am trying to keep this job…I mean, honestly, this season for this couple [Culber and Stamets] is really about deepening them individually. We get to find out a lot about Culber – who he is, what he wants, what makes him tick, what his ambitions are – separate and apart from this relationship. But we get to learn a lot about this relationship and it is put through the test.
An important thing you have talked about before was for both Stamets and Culber to have lives. They weren’t just their relationship. You were a doctor and you were smart, unfortunately too smart [resulting in uncovering and getting killed by Voq/Tyler]. So, you guys keep talking about the relationship for season 2, are there things for you to do that have nothing to do with Paul Stamets?
Yes. There is a lot. That’s what I mean, we are really are going to expand the presence of Culber and who he is and all of those things. We are not only going to see this relationship and how it is affected by this, but who they are.
He has gone through a trauma, and that affects and changes and stays with you. It has a physical effect on you. There are generations of African-American people who are carrying a physical element of themselves that is caused by the trauma that their ancestors went through. So, if that happens, you can only imagine what trauma a person who had their neck snapped carries around.
Expanding Trek’s diversity and managing fallout from killing off Culber
You guys have talked a lot about diversity and part of the diversity is your sexuality. What about being Puerto Rican and being a Latino actor, you know, there haven’t been a lot in Star Trek and so is that established much in the show? Is it clear that [Culber] is Puerto Rican?
I can say, it will be clear this year.
When [Culber] was killed off, there was an immediate full-court press to let everyone know he’s not dead, he’s coming back. That is unusual for a show that is so secretive. Did they know when they killed you, that they weren’t going to really kill you off? Can you talk about why it was decided to let everyone so rapidly know?
Because of that reason. Because we knew he was coming back. And we didn’t want people to think it was a character that had just been killed off. [Culber] had to die. First of all, he had to die for what happens at the end of the season. In order for the universe, and all the universes, to be saved, somebody had to be in the mycelia network to know what was going on and be able to know what was going on and have a strong enough bond with somebody in our plane that could reach them. And that bond was love. So, we saved the universe because that had to happen. And that had to happen so we can do what we are about to do.
Watch the interview
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