TrekMovie had a chance to speak to some of the cast and crew of Star Trek: Discovery at a press event at San Diego Comic-Con, including fan favorite Saru actor Doug Jones. (Audio of the interview is below the transcript)
Saru and Michael’s relationship in season two
When we talked at the Star Trek: Discovery premiere, you talked a lot about the brother/sister dynamic with Saru and Michael Burnham and we saw how that changed during the season. Now that she is a commander again and you are first officer and she is ambitious, is the rivalry back?
No, not like it was. You meet us with brother and sister rivalry, absolutely, in season one. She outranks me when you first meet us, then she commits mutiny and under-ranks me, drastically. I get a promotion to commander and first officer, and then she works her way back and by the end of season one she has her commander pips again, but I’m still first officer, so I out-position her, but we have the same rank.
So, now what? What you are going to find in season two is the brother/sister relationships, the tender parts of it. That was my favorite part of season one. We had our bickerings and at-each-other’s throats moments, but we always had a make-up scene, where we had a moment of understanding, a moment of reckoning. And those were always my favorite scenes. We do have shared history together. We have Captain Georgiou as our mom figure, that we really came up under.
So, we are relying more on that this year. We both have families that we came from. She is foster sister to Spock. I have my own family back on my home planet, which we are going to meet in season two. I’m very excited about visiting my home planet. This season we are back to exploring and back to what Star Trek started as.
Saru goes home in season two, and Short Treks
Is your home planet called “Kelpia?”
It is not. The name of my home planet has not been put out there yet, I cannot be the first one to say it.
Have you done that episode yet?
We are about to start it, when we get back from [Comic-Con]. It is a good, thick script for me, oh my gosh! It’s a lot of responsibility.
And we get to meet your family
We meet some family. And the questions will be answered as to why am I the only Kelpien who ever joined Starfleet and how did that happen. That is going to be addressed. Between that regular episode and the [Star Trek: Short Treks] mini-episode I am going to be doing as well, a Saru mini-episode.
And the family are in the mini-episode?
Both, a little bit of both. Yeah.
When do you shoot your mini?
I don’t even know.
Saru evolves in season two
A big thing about your physicality in the first season, was the threat ganglia. Star Trek has a history with the interesting characters like Saru, Data, Odo, have these interesting abilities, and often as the series progresses, we learn about new abilities they have. So, are there other things or abilities about Kelpiens we will learn and how do you feel about them saying “Oh, now you can do this”?
[Laughs] I am on the ride with the fans. The audience and I are learning about Saru and Kelpiens at the same time, basically as I get one script. I don’t want to know too far ahead. The writers asked me last year “How far ahead do you want to know?” And I was “Let me handle one episode at a time.”
So, I am on an evolution. Every character is on an evolutionary track of some sort. My evolution is evidenced in season two, especially. Also, not only are we going to go to my home planet and meet some family, but I am also a prey species. That means there is a predator out there. Who is that? How do they have a thumb on us. All of that gets addressed and answered too. And my evolution might be part of that as well.
Acting with (almost) his own face in Space Command
Let’s talk quickly about Space Command [which was previewing its first episode at SDCC 2018]. What can you tell us about your character and how do you feel about getting to act – almost – without any makeup?
Almost! Dorn Neven is android in Space Command. I loved his character so much. He is much like other characters I have played, in that he is tall and lanky, but very poised and very mannered. He is an android that served as a servant for rich people in this future setting, but he ended up getting a heart and soul of his own, getting more human characteristics and asking questions he wasn’t supposed to ask. So, they end up demoting him and putting him in the salt mines, and that is how you meet him in the beginning of Space Command.
I had a helmet piece and they wiped away my eyebrows and gave me a very pasty, pale sort of not-quite-human look. But, it was my own face and I was tickled pink about that. I have done a lot with my own face over the years, but in the sci-fi world it is usually with rubber.
If the show gets picked up, are you going to be available?
I doubt it, because I am very committed to Star Trek: Discovery now.
Listen to the interview
More from SDCC
This is the last of our Star Trek: Discovery exclusive interviews from San Diego Comic-Con. Click here to see our other six red carpet interviews. You may also want to check out our full panel report and the 8 things we learned from the Discovery press conference.
We have also been covering Star Trek merchandise and other Trek-related activities and panels from SDCC. Click here to see all our SDCC 2018 coverage.
So excited about season 2. Love Saru!
Absolutely! And I’m so glad Doug Jones is part of the ST family
Can’t wait to see the fearsome giant Kelpwolves of Kelpistan.
I’ve met Marc Scott Zicree of Space Command on a couple of occasions, and he seems like a good guy. (Talented too, needless to say: for all the attention given to Star Trek Continues and Axanar, his “World Enough and Time” still ranks as the best Trek fan film ever made, in my estimation.) Replacing Doug Jones will be a tall order, no doubt.
Didn’t Empress Georgiou have Saru’s family over for lunch?
Your humor is delicious. Here, have some of my gag laughs ;^)
Didn’t she have a book entitled “To Serve Kelpians”?
A predator that see’s the 7 foot tall Suru as lunch is a scary thing.
Ever wolves pull down a bison? Maybe the Ewoks on Planet Kelp have really long teeth, and travel in large packs.
Sounds like we’re getting a “Christmas special” ;)
Yeah, my first thought was the Star Wars one, which I think of anytime a show promises to show us sonebody’s family.
please, please, please don’t bring up the Christmas Special lol
I love Saru, and Doug Jones brings so much to the character. For someone from a prey species to learn and comport himself with such dignity is a great accomplishment. But Jones can play the dignity humorously too. Saru’s expressions are very subtle, as is his body language. He’s a joy to watch.
Now someone design that man a more comfortable pair of boots. We don’t see his hooves that often to begin with; couldn’t they just have him change boots for full-length body shot?
I think he said during interviews for the first season that they sometimes cheat when you don’t see his hooves. However, for a walking shot he probably needs the hooves even if they are out of frame to get that characteristic walk right.
Hmmm, and that Kelpien predator … I’m picturing something gigantic, or at least Grizzly-sized. Yikes!
It’s the pawgs. You’ll see when Disney buys CBS.
I just made the mistake of googling “pawgs” o_0
Porgs, damn autocorrect. Though the Pawgs episode would definitely rank a TV-MA rating watching them chow down on a Kelpian in their special, intimate fashion.
Why does everyone expects them to be larger. Tasmanian devils are not larger than wallabies, lions are not larger than giraffes, sharks are not larger than sea lions, critters and gremlins are not larger than humans. And last but not least humans are not larger than whales or elephants, only much more violent and cruel.
I honestly was really on the fence with Saru at the beginning of the season but he really shined in the MU episodes IMO and easily one of my favorite characters on the show (although I’m going to be honest when I say that is a pretty short list so far lol). Everyone was calling him a ‘coward’ at the beginning but I’m happy that went away quickly and he proved he’s not one at all. I have suggested it would be great to see him as Captain and Burnham as FO.
I mean it can still happen. ;)
I never saw him as a “coward”. I saw him as someone who fought quite heroically against some mental health issues. But I’m still not convinced he is stable enough yet to aquire a permanent leadership role. I am not sure he is such a “stable genius” like we luckily have at the top of some nations today.
What mental health issue are you referring to? The threat ganglia and associated comportment is not a mental health issue, it’s a natural mechanism resulting from a normal evolutionary process for his species.
I meant that Saru seems to represent people with an anxiety disorder.
A series regular alien captain is one thing they haven’t done yet.
At least not in canon,but a novel series they have.
Here too. Didn’t find him all that interesting at first. But he got much better as the show went on. Even in the end he became the most interesting character in the cast. By default since Lorca got DQ’d.
So, is ‘saddle up’ considered an insult to prey species Kelpians?
The third Discovery novel, Fear Itself, says that Saru’s homeworld is called Kaminar.