Thursday’s episode of Star Trek: Discovery brought the character of Dr. Hugh Culber back from the dead. In a series of interviews, Wilson Cruz and Anthony Rapp talk about what this means for the show moving forward and how the story of Culber’s return is not over yet.
Cruz: Dr. Culber may not be the same Dr. Culber
Wilson Cruz was the guest on this week’s The Ready Room, where he offered up lots of behind the scenes details on his return as Dr. Culber in “Saints of Imperfection,” including how even though he grew his hair and beard out the makeup team wanted an even scragglier look and added extensions and a wig. Cruz said to prepare for his return he watched a documentary on PTSD and re-read the novel The Road, as it was about “solitude and desperation.”
Cruz also clarified some plot points, such as how the trees that were poisonous to the JahSepp were indigenous to the Mycelial Network and the result of his incursion. As for What Culber was up to for the months trapped in the Network, Cruz said:
Most of it was trying to stay alive. What does that mean? What is life for him? Is it life? And really at first, where am I? Is this heaven? Is it hell? Is it real? Is that even a possibility. If I am dead, why am I still conscious? There is confusion. There is desperation. There is anger and fear, I think a lot of it is fear of the unknown. What am I trying to do, am I trying to stay alive, am I trying to stay in here or am I trying to get out. And then, every now and then he will see the Discovery come through and he has been trying to get their attention, hoping there is a way to get out of there. It is a lonely, solitary, frightening existence.
Cruz also talked about how this episode set up the rest of the season, even down to Culber’s scraggly look:
Just visually we understand that this man has been through a trauma and it is going to take a while to understand how it has impacted him. I think we succeeded at that. And what I am really proud of is that we set up the rest of his journey for the rest of the season, which I have to say I am extremely proud of. Probably the work I am most proud of in my career.
According to Cruz, Culber has “been through a trauma” and it will have a big impact on the relationship between him and Anthony Rapp’s Paul Stamets. Cruz stated:
We are tested. And there are consequences to what has happened Culber while he was in that network. We don’t tie it up in a pretty pink bow after this episode, that we really deal with those consequecnes. And not just with Stamets. Everyone has to deal with. He is in everyone’s life. He was everyone’s doctor. He had a relationship with Tilly, he has a relationship with Michael. So, he has to deal with Ash. So, there is a lot to deal with…I honestly think anyone who has gone through a trauma like this has to question everything about their existance. Who they are. Who they love. What they do. Why they are here. I think he is asking all of those questions this season.
Cruz summed up the future of the character, saying:
The Dr. Culber that we knew may not be the Dr. Culber we come to know.
Watch the full video below, which includes some behind-the-scenes footage from the episode.
More from Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz talking about making the episode.
When I come back, I don’t know who I am. So, one of the questions is, when I do find out who I am, are you still going to love that person. And the other question is, are you still the kind of person that I want to be with. You get to a point where you start asking, are we growing apart or are we growing together? And I think Hugh is asking that question throughout this season.
Watch the video below:
Cruz and Rapp talk future of Culmets, the spore drive, and Culber’s butt moment
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter Cruz and Rapp talked more about what we can expect for Culber and Stamets in season two:
Rapp: We find a really interesting way to explore the idea that if you come back [to life], what is that like? What you’re going to learn is that he’s Hugh, but it’s a new body. What is it like to be the same person inside of a new body? And what is it like to have your consciousness be in a different realm for a while? It’s like someone coming out of a coma. What is it like to live and breathe again in this universe when you’ve been living and breathing in such a traumatized manner?
Cruz: We will find out not just about who are they are to each other, but who they are individually. Last season, it was fair to say that Culber was very much in service of Stamets’ ambition. But this season, we really get to see who Hugh Culber is, why he does what he does. I want people to imagine what it’s like to have gone through all of that [in the network] and to now be back where it all started. That experience has affected how he feels about his life, career, relationship, and who he is. We will learn there are consequences for him, as there should be. We don’t pull any punches, and I think we deliver a love story that is worthy of this relationship
Speaking to Syfy Anthony Rapp talks about how Stamets feels about how the spore drive may be harmful to the JahSepp, who live in the Mycelial Network, saying:
Rapp: I’ve always felt like Stamets is very responsive to biology. He’s incredibly confident and has a really strong opinion about things, but I don’t think he’d ever try to bend anything to his will. He’s always trying to find ways to make it work. I think it’s confronting and upsetting, yes. But at the same time I think it’s just a natural instinct to go, “Wow, if this is true, I need to make this right.” So, I thought somebody like Stamets who is always going to try and respond to information and data, that he’d try to find the best path. He would try to make it right. He’s driven to a solution.
Speaking to TVInsider Cruz talked about breaking a new barrier on the show, asked if he was the first actor to show his entire butt on screen in Star Trek, replying:
Cruz: [laughs] I don’t know. Maybe. I know this. When you see that scene, there’s Sonequa (Martin-Green, who plays Michael), Anthony, and Mary [Wiseman, who plays Tilly]. They’re standing there and I have my butt towards them. The very first time we did it, I had to disrobe, and I lie there, and Sonequa is in a position where she just sees everything. I just turn to her and I said, “Well, we family now.” And she was like, “Baby, it’s so beautiful. I love all of you.”
Cruz gives thanks to the fans
Following the episode, Wilson Cruz also reached out on social media to share his thanks for all the feedback he was getting.
View this post on Instagram
Honestly, I have no words for the incredibly generous and overwhelming response to last night’s episode of @startrekcbs. Thank you for your words. They truly mean a lot to me. I am so very proud to be a part of this iconic franchise and to be working with ALL of these inspiring ARTISTS, from our cast and writers and producers, to our costumers, hair and make up, to our crew and craft services! They all put their entire hearts into their work. Click on the link in my bio for an exclusive interview with @jimhalterman.
Star Trek: Discovery is available exclusively in the USA on CBS All Access. It airs in Canada on Space and streams on CraveTV. It is available on Netflix everywhere else.
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.