Wilson Cruz And Anthony Rapp On ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Changes For Culber, Stamets And The Spore Drive

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.

Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham; Anthony Rapp as Stamets; Bahia Watson as May; Mary Wiseman as Tilly  (CBS)

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.”

“Saints of Imperfection” — Episode #205 — Pictured (l-r): Wilson Cruz as Culber; Anthony Rapp as Stamets (CBS)

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.

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.

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“asked if he was the first actor to show his entire butt on screen in Star Trek,”

That honor goes to T’Pol.

That honour surely goes to Patrick Stewart.

Yes. Chain of Command, Part I. Or was it in Part II?

If memory serves it was the end of Part One

People talking of butts, I don’t remember how much PatStew butt one can see, but I recall T’Pol’s is only a half butt visible, isn’t it? Actually, I was watching T’Pol butt episode on H&I reruns, and I believe it was censored!

Maybe all the butts pre-Disco have only been ‘half-moons’ then, but the Discover season finale had the Orion chap’s cheeks on full display, so perhaps he should be the one credited for being the first actor to show his entire butt on screen.

This really is a random conversation to be having about Star Trek!

Yes. It was only a plumber’s crack for T’Pol.

It makes me so glad to hear that they won’t be hitting the “well, he’s back, we good” button that other series have done. With Star Trek, it’s never felt like there’s been any consequence to resurrection. In fact, the only episode that really dealt with it was in Voyager’s “Mortal Coil” where Neelix dies and is resurrected via Borg plot devices. Of the characters who have died and come back, including Spock, Harry Kim, and O’brien, none of them have ever had to grapple with the fact that they were or ARE dead.

I like what I see and where this is going. Keep it up, Disco!

Well that is the difference of having a serialized show. They can dwell into these issues more. They did a bit more with DS9 of course but they still didn’t do it fully. For example, like what happened with O’Brien in Hard Time where he was given 20 years of memory of being a prisoner and it affected him so much he nearly killed himself for it. Next episode though, he was fine lol.

But of course this is still Star Trek. In the real world, if you bring back someone from the dead via another dimension, I kind of imagine that person would be sent to a team of scientists and poked and prodded for months in a lab if not years. But in the world of Trek at most someone is going to write up a report to send to Starfleet, give the guy a physical and he will be back at work like nothing happened. For a Starfleet officer, this is just another Tuesday for them. ;)

Well, being locked away to be poked and prodded for months on end doesn’t really sound like a nice thing to do to any person, let alone someone who’s just been through a months-long trauma. I would hope that Starfleet doesn’t do that.

Because Admiral Cornwell mentioned working with PTSD patients, I imagine Starfleet gives a person some medical leave and ongoing counselling before putting them back in the game.

I like the idea of consequences for actions; it makes for human, better drama.

Of course some people end up getting burned up in a mycelial ball o’ fire and some get rescued to use their dastardly brains in Section 31. But I digress.

And it would be impossible for Picard to live an entire lifetime like he did in “The Inner Light” without coming out of it a different person. People change over the course of their life. Yet he came back pretty much exactly the same as when he went in. Yes. Episodic television. One of the advantages of serialized shows. Note, I’m not saying it’s superior. Both have their pluses and minuses.

Spock was not himself in “The Voyage Home” and had to re-learn many things about relating to humans.

his entire arc in that movie was about that, indeed!

I would say he still had moments in The Final Frontier, such as insistently calling Kirk by rank when they were on shore leave. And then there was a time jump of six years before we saw Spock again, during which time he seemed much more himself.

None of the crew was themselves in “The Voyage Home”. Almost as if that movie was set in a different universe with different versions of our heroes.

Actually, doesn’t that honor go to Patrick Stewart in “Chain of Command, Part II”?

Hahahah. Let’s split it halfway then. The first bare male buttocks were Stewart’s, the first bare female buttocks’ were Blalock’s (or their respective body doubles if any apply, heh).

“Let’s split it halfway then.”

Exactly like buttocks!

And Rene Auberjonois in ‘Broken Link’ when Odo is made human.

Glad to hear of the enduring consequences for Culber’s character, such being an essential part of any long-form drama. There are still things I like and even admire about Discovery, but they need to start getting stuff like this right.

I so glad he back and that Discovery is going to explore his character even more!

Now that Culber is back and he will have to deal with Ash – I’m thinking that Culber may find that Ash is the one who can understand the most what he has gone through.

Culber’s conscious is now in a new body just like Ash/Voq.

Interesting observation!

Good point! How weird would it be, to find that the one who understands you best is the person who murdered you?

Ooh, that’s a really interesting thought!

Makes sense!

While I am one of the people who has had some criticisms of this show, one thing I’ve gotta give them props for is how they do seem to be taking the consequences of the resurrection of Doctor Culber much more seriously than the resurrection of Doctor Carson was in Stargate: Atlantis.

In that show his remarkably passive – almost flippant – reaction to being rescued from a torturous imprisonment only to find that he was actually a clone of the deceased original seemed to be little more than “Ma mam thinks I’m deid ’cause she saw the original me buried, all ma stuff’s gone, and you’ve got a new doctor? Ach, well… Guess I’ll just bum about the galaxy and only visit here whenever my replacement needs a day off! Hey-ho, on we go!”

Much love to talented Rapp and Cruz, but all the mushroom crap is really stupid. If possible, please no more with the mushroom crap. Thanks!

I still think that this is not truly Dr. Culver. He is an avatar. They did not explain well why either character from the mycilial network can possibly have ALL the memories of the human they were portraying, especially May. She is the reason for my doubt. If he is an Avatar, as I suspect, then they will be putting Stamets through the drama of killing him again, possibly by his own hand!

Yes! Think about it. It cannot possibly be Culber. It’s an entity of some sort using the image of Culber. They’ve done it to Stammets already. This is just the next step.

“Dr. Culber may not be the same Dr. Culber”

Of course not. Culber is dead. This is some sort of entity masquerading as Culber. Now we do not know of this entity is malevolent or benevolent. But we do know it’s not Culber because they did not explain how Culber got into the network to begin with. Don’t think we didn’t notice…