Wilson Cruz: Culber Gets To Do More Doctoring In ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 3

The third season of Star Trek: Discovery is “coming soon,” but we still don’t know a lot about it. In a new interview, actor Wilson Cruz offers a glimpse of where we will see his character, Dr. Hugh Culber, as the crew of the USS Discovery finds themselves in the far future.

Cruz: Culber is a better doctor in S3

On Variety’s latest The Big Ticket podcast, host Marc Malkin spoke to Wilson Cruz about his new Apple TV Plus documentary series Visible: Out on Television, and the wide-ranging discussion of Cruz’s career also turned to his time on Discovery.

We just finished season three. I actually get to do a lot more doctoring this season. And they have given me this really epic storyline. This is a man who falls in love and is in a great relationship and is killed and comes back to life and is a better doctor now because of it. It’s a great part. It’s maybe the best part I have had.

Wilson Cruz, Anthony Rapp, and Jason Isaacs in the season one episode “Into the Forest I Go”

Studio needed assurance Cruz could look the part

Cruz also talks about how he had always dreamed of being on Star Trek and actively pursued the role which eventually went to Anthony Rapp. He was happy to find out that there was still a possible role for him playing Rapp’s partner, Dr. Culber. Seeing how he and Rapp were old friends, the studio didn’t feel they needed to do a “chemistry test” with the pair. Cruz explains:

I think the reason why we work [as a couple] is that we use our actual friendship and love for each other as a foundation. It feels familiar and it feels like these people have been together for a long time.

However, Cruz revealed the studio did still have a concern before casting him:

Once they cast Anthony I thought that was it, that was my chance. That was the one gay character. I didn’t know they were going to have two! [laughs]. But it was pretty seamless. I had to put myself on tape…for the studio. They were more worried about if I looked old enough to be the doctor on Star Trek. So, I guess I just let myself look haggard that day. [laughs]

For the record, Wilson Cruz was 43 years old in 2017 when Star Trek: Discovery premiered.

Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz in the second season episode “The Red Angel”

Listen to full Cruz interview

You can listen to Cruz on Variety’s The Big Ticket below.


Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news and reviews at TrekMovie.com.

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Cmd.Bremmon

I don’t get the concern over age, he plays an awesome Doctor. There are those geniuses out there who did their undergrad in 4, MD in 2. So they are what, 23? Granted no internship.
That being said I think the ‘love’ arc reeks of Young and the Restless.
And seriously they need to stop killing people and bringing them back to life. If people don’t die the audience a) can’t relate and b) can’t emotionally invest. Maybe once, maybe twice but almost every series now?!?
That being said, guess they could just upload the guy into a golumn and then he lives forever (and if he get’s blown up they take a couple of his cells and make a new one and maybe a backup) so whatever.

Steve

The writing on both shows is terrible. Culber is a prime example. He’s a nothing character.

Cmd.Bremmon

He could easily be a McCoy (awesome sci-fi Doctor character) though on talent/ability/appearance they need to give him some medical edge / life science roles. Maybe figuring out the hidden flaw to the golumns that everyone in the 30th century+ has turned into that Discovery has to somehow rectify. Give it a horror show edge where it turns out maybe the Discovery crew are the only people really alive!

Gary 8.5

“Embrace The Dark Side, LET THE HATE FLOW THROUGH YOU”!

Cmd.Bremmon

Well it’s that or have all his medical skills be obsolete, replaced by that of electrical engineers. That ironically might be a plot for him, what do you do when you find out your entire skill set is now useless an AI life has superseded your organic life medical skills? He could be the McCoy of his era refusing to upgrade in his golumn.

The transporter pretty much cures everything anyway. Just invert the pattern whatchamacallit’s and supercharge the bulls**t compensaters, and, TA DA! Immortality awaits…..

Then stop watching it, troll. The writing is NOT terrible. It’s just not to your liking.

Steve

“Here’s a magical device you can hold in your hand that’ll make all your dreams come true…. just coz” “So Narek, the primary antagonist of the show betrays Soji. I’m sure something big and important will come of that. Oh wait, no, he just isn’t mentioned again after telling a campfire story.” “Hey, let’s turn a Klingon into a human, change all his organs and everything, and then… do absolutely nothing with it.” “Hey, here’s this interesting Red Angel storyline… oh wait no, the angel is Michael Burnham, the centre of the universe, and Section 31 built the angel suit and let’s make another one”. You’re right. The writing on these shows is clearly excellent.

Matt

Literally none of those plot threads you are calling bad writing are 100% resolved, give a show that is still running a chance hey?

AllenWrench

I don’t know about “terrible,” but it is cliched writing. Two gay characters with a shared love for opera? Really, opera? Frasier and Will & Grace were poking fun at that 20 years ago.

Matt

except one likes opera the other hates it

ML31

I would say he is, er… Was. Over a century early for that tech but looking at the Discovery tech it looks like it could be used in Picard no problem. So I guess the tech DID exist back when they were in that time frame.

Cmd.Bremmon

True. Who even needs Doctors now that we are are all golumns, we need electrical engineers.

kmart

Did anybody at the studio bother to see that the guy was in a space movie, SUPERNOVA, made over 20 years ago, playing an ADULT? Unless he was in the Briar Patch, he’d have plenty of time to grow up to be a doctor. That sounds like a b.s. story, like when Desilu fired the guy who airbrushed Spock’s ears round instead of the guy who ordered the airbrushing.

Jay

They want Games of Thrones without a meaning. Pointless.

You seem to think you just made a point.

You did not.

Marcelo

He’s only 43???? Jesus he looks great.

Raphael Salgado

Consequently, Anthony Rapp is 48.

Faze Ninja

He was 43 in 2017 but yeah he’s a good looking man for his age.

Wilson is good lookin’ for all ages, with the body of a superhero to match. Le sigh.

Cmd.Bremmon

Agreed!!!

Steve

It would be nice if he became an actual character in season 3, rather just a walking billboard. Two seasons in and we know pretty much nothing about him, except that he likes opera *rolls eyes*. Concentrate on character development first writers, labels and identity politics second.

Faze Ninja

Identity politics…. Character development is important for any character, not just him. There are no “labels” you speak of.

Steve

Literally the only thing Culber has added to this show is being gay. That and Cuber and Stamets being a couple makes up 95% of what Cruz speaks about in interviews. Because there’s literally nothing else for him to talk about. Two entire years in and we know almost nothing about him as a person. It’s because he’s not a character, he’s just a walking billboard, so Trek can get headlines for representing a gay couple. And as a gay man myself, I find that pandering pretty pathetic, especially to the extent Discovery takes it and other “representation”. They should concentrate more on making him a likeable, interesting character with lots of depth… so the “gay” label can carry more weight.

Sully

Could not agree more Steve. The current writers on Trek’s latest works must have at least 75% of their working days out to lunch, with how undeveloped their characters end up. It is infuriating that anyone could get to work in such a privileged position and do it so half-assed. Forget labour of love, there’s barely even labour with these charlatans.

The Trouble With Dribbles

Agreed

Tek

I like Disco, but very this. The characters are established now. Season three needs to have the characters be that, characters. The foundation is there. They’re free from ‘cannon’. They’re literally where no man that they know has gone before, and season three, could and should be what S3 of other Trek series has been for the series.

ML31

I hope you don’t mean season 3 of TOS…

And BTW… I thought Culber had tremendous potential when we first saw him back in S1 STD. But they did nothing with him.

Steve

What potential? I can’t remember anything he did in season 1? He was just a walking headline for gay couples in Star Trek

Faze Ninja

Steve so you’re issue is that he’s gay, okay. I agree with most of what you said. When they start preaching in your face, that’s a no no. He needs more substance.

ML31

It’s due to something something those synths cannot do. It’s a gut feeling. Culber felt like he could have been one of the more interesting characters and I cannot pinpoint why. It’s not that he was gay. That’s irrelevant to me. I had that gut feeling about O’Brian back on TNG. That that character had potential. And boy did he ever when he got tapped for DS9.

And… there’s the homophobia. Your bigotry is transparent, and I knew it would show up eventually.

David Alexander Harrison

@His Name Is Rios

“And… there’s the homophobia. Your bigotry is transparent, and I knew it would show up eventually.”

Look further up the thread:

https://trekmovie.com/2020/04/09/wilson-cruz-is-excited-culber-gets-to-do-more-doctoring-in-star-trek-discovery-season-3/#comment-5485794

“as a gay man myself, I find that pandering pretty pathetic”

Steve is gay himself. Your ‘Virtue Signalling’ outweighing actually reading & comprehending is showing.

So stop watching, troll. You’re not a fan, so why waste your time and others’ time?

The Trouble With Dribbles

I, personally don’t swing that way, but you’re right. He has no actual role. Even when saving the life of Stamets, there is nothing medically technical in his lines. It’s all emotionally driven. Not something ANY doctor should be. You would never see McCoy, or Crusher emotionally broke down- even when she operated on her son.
I, personally think he was a bad choice for the role. Who care’s about who he beds with at night. Why is it so important he be identified as a gay man? How is his sexuality going to make it a better show?
I understand that most of tptb, and writers are gay, but Star Trek is a show about space adventures. tptb should develop a characters role based on how they contribute the story. I don’t think anyone cares about a characters sexuality, as much as what their strengths are.
You guys can hit back as hard as you want, but it won’t change my opinion of Discovery. It’s a great show, but it has some flaws that, if not worked out- will lead to people becoming more and more disinterested.

DeanH

I tend to agree, especially for viewers who are not gay. That said, I think social and mainstream media plays to the gay narrative so you can’t always blame Cruz. I do also wonder what it would have been like for Nichelle Nichols if she would have so strongly come out for African American rights in 1966 America plus discussed her now well known talk with Dr. King who was assassinated in 1968. I sadly shudder at some of the negativity she would have had to endure during such volatile times, especially if there was anonymous social media. In the end, I am much happier that in the 21st century, Cruz is more comfortable voicing his opinions – sometimes vociferously regarding gay politics – than not. Btw love the way Star Trek continues the long standing tradition to cast Broadway singers and actors like Nichols, Cruz, Anthony Rapp and now Isa Briones. Nichols got to sing on TOS and Briones got to sing the great closing number for the Picard season finale. I wonder how much Discovery will try to show off Wilson or Anthony’s voice in the future.

ML31

Speaking of Briones singing in the Picard finale… I was surprised when I found out it was her. Watching it I was stunned at how bad that version of Blue Skies was. Spiner himself did a far superior job in Nemesis itself than she did. There had to be someone else in the cast with better singing chops. Maybe even get Spiner to do it would have been the better option. But it seems there were a lot of mistakes made in that finale and this is just another one.

Sully

ML31 I too thought it was an inferior version. Spiner’s much better version would surely have provided a more appropriate symmetry, with B4’s lyric reminiscence effectively the series’ prologue.

ML31

If you recall, the bit of hope that was left with the audience was B4 starting to sing the song when in Picard’s office. Leading the audience to think the download seemed to be starting to work. It was sort of TNG’s version of Spock saying, “Jim. Your name.. Is Jim.”

So yes it could have provided a decent bookend with Spiner doing it rather than the oddly inferior version we ended up with. And it would have felt appropriate to go along with Picard finally coming to terms with Data’s sacrifice as it was a theme in Nemesis.

There are no identity politics at play here.

ML31

If there wasn’t it would be a bit on the unusual side from the entertainment biz. Not saying there aren’t productions where it doesn’t come into play. But you have to admit it does come into play more often than some might want to admit.

Steve

Open your eyes. 5 gay characters on two crews? 90% of the secondary characters on Discovery being female and/or black? A non binary character being introduced in season 3 of Discovery?

Faze Ninja

I really hope season 3 comes out in the summer. Like between May through August. Star Trek: Discovery is getting better with each passing season so I’m optimistic about it.

I like his character and his relationship with Anthony Rapp’s character. Sorry I don’t remember his name. I would like to see more character development from him. We barely know anything about him.

He’s the doctor on the ship and I’m happy to hear that he’s doing that more in the upcoming season. I’m not concerned about his age.

Picard season 2 is probably coming out in 2022.

Mike

Let’s see…

McCoy (DeForrest Kelley was 46 at the start of TOS)
Crusher (Gates McFadden was 38 at the start of TNG)
Bashir (Alexander Siddig was 28 at the start of DS9)
EMH (Robert Picardo was 42 at the start of VOY)
Phlox (John Billingsley was 41 at the start of ENT)

While Dr Hugh Culber isn’t the Chief Medical Officer on Discovery (which seems odd to me, given we’ve never seen the actual CMO as of yet), his age of 43 at the start, makes him the 2nd oldest of the “Main cast Doctors” in Trek.

Translation: The producers of Discovery don’t know f**k all, if they thought his age was an issue to play the part.

Cmd.Bremmon

Well like myself they probably wasted their first year of university chasing the opposite sex instead of learning like those smart Doctor types. Let that be a lesson to you 15-18 year olds – guys/girls can wait for when you know more, don’t be so serious and learn while you can!! Yeah there might be a guy/girl to blame but you know what, it’s going to be your own fault your not a MD at 24 (4 year undergrad + 2 year Medical School so 17+4+2=23-24). Alternatively travel the world that year, it’s a write off anyway and will cost the same amount!!!

Internal Medicine Physician

What is this 2 year medical school you speak of?
In America, starting at 18, it’s 4 years undergrad, 4 years medical school, 3 – 5 years residency, plus 2 – 4 years fellowship if you want to specialize. We’re talking minimum mid-30s if you want to be a cardiothoracic surgeon or interventional cardiologist.

This is from a generic internal medicine physician who was so burned out after 3 years of residency that I just needed to devote time to family and making a good pay check like a normal human being.

It sounds like Cmd Bremmon might be speaking of Quebec, where students with good marks can start med school directly after CEGEP. (CEGEP is more than high school, but not quite college. It was Quebec’s solution to getting rid of the old grade 13 senior matriculation that existed in Canada.)

In the rest of Canada, early entry into med school after 2 years of undergraduate courses has been possible with the right grades, courses and entry exam scores.

There is still exams, residency, and specialization exams. From friends who’ve done the exams in both Canada and the US to qualify in both countries, the Canadian ones seem tougher. In some of the specialties, there are in person simulations.

Cmd.Bremmon

Yes , I’ve met some crazy geniuses where my first reaction was “Your a Doctor, aren’t you like 25?!?!?”, this was pre-residency though. Point being was way WAY under 43 or whatever the writers were concerned about.

Faze Ninja

Cmd.Bremmon my mom is a medical doctor and that’s not how it works. What you said doesn’t make sense. She’s actually a physician in family medicine, deals with pregnancies and other doctor stuff.

There is pre med, medical school, residency and all that. Exams

Cmd.Bremmon

Yes true, I was talking pre-residency (intern Doctors) at 25.

ML31

Wow… Culber was the best character he has ever played in his opinion? That’s got to be just PR for the show…

And for the record, I still don’t believe it’s really Culber. It just HAS to be some sort of mycilial network spy thing. That’s the only thing that makes sense out of it.

Legate Damar

I don’t think a mycelial spy would be struggling with issues of identity like Culber is.

ML31

But I think a mycelial spy would be aping such things to help sell the rouse. Although I am stunned that NO ONE has at least questioned this “miracle”, given how everything has gone down.

Just Another Salt Vampire

Wilson Cruz is one of the few parts of Discovery that I have consistently enjoyed. I hope that he gets to become chief medical officer finally. One of the problems with this show is that the characters are weirdly put in subordinate roles that make no narrative sense.

ML31

It’s not just that they are subordinates… It’s that we NEVER see their superiors! Even in staff meetings with the Captain where are the department heads? They all send their #2’s? Eventually we saw the CMO but good lord…

I’m not sure Dr. Tracy Pollard is the CMO. She’s listed as a Lieutenant whereas Dr. Hugh Culber is listed as Lt. Commander.

By that, she would have been a more junior colleague to Culber, with another senior physician at the rank of Commander as CMO. I love the character, and will be saddened if Culber’s character development pushes her out of sight, but she is definitely not his boss.

What is also odd is that Nahn is a Commander. It’s ok in terms of making her Chief of Security on Discovery, but makes no sense In terms of her status on the Enterprise. That has more to do however with the writers leaving Number One as a First Officer at the rank of Lt. Commander.

At any rate, it’s utterly weird, even if you put Burnham as the central character, to never have Burnham interact as Chief Science Officer with her department head peers.

Now my theory is that all the department heads will have either stayed behind on the Enterprise or have died off-screen. So, Discovery in the far future won’t be needing to tidy up the ranks.

Andrew SD

Dr. Culber is one of my favorites. I’m happy there’s more for him to do this coming season. Every moment he’s on screen is a good one.

Faze Ninja

Wilson Cruz is a good actor and his character is one of the few parts that I enjoy of Discovery. He needs more character development this season because he has potential. Maybe he becomes chief medical officer now.

Cautiously optimistic on season 3 to be honest.

Wow. Lot’s of hostility aimed at the gay characters, under the guise of character development. It looks like we still have a long way to go.

PR interviews aside, I suspect if you asked any of these cast members, off the record, they would tell you what the numbers should be telling everyone. This is a program that is a very large ensemble cast, and a limited number of episodes per season. I suspect they all know, given these constraints, very few of the characters are going to get the deep dive into character development they desire. Setting that context, then it’s entirely reasonable for Wilson Cruz to be pleased with what he does have to work with, and seems determined to make the best of what he does get.

Solving the on screen character development issue requires either more episodes, or fewer characters. That’s a management decision, and probably a separate conversation as well.

Steve

“Wow. Lot’s of hostility aimed at the gay characters, under the guise of character development. It looks like we still have a long way to go.” – you need to re-read the comments, because thats not at all what’s happening. I’m gay and I find Culber being introduced purely as a billboard so that Trek can say they have a gay couple, then give him almost zero character, as pure embarrassing pandering.

StarTrick

Well, let’s say that I’m on the board of showing a gay couple on Star Trek – it was about time, really. And as for Stamets and Culber, I’d say it works. The chemistry is there in my opinion and unlike the vast majority of relationships in Star Trek-history I really find this believable (the only other Star Trek couples I found believable previously where Riker/Troi and especially Kira/Odo which was like the greatest relationship Star Trek ever presented to us, imho).

But as others pointed already out, there’s not much else to say about Culber.
-He’s a doctor.
-He likes opera.
-He’s gay.

That’s all there is. His “arc” in season one is to die, and his “arc” in season 2 is to come back – and most of the time he’s off screen. So yeah… some character development, please?!

I mean, they did more with the arc both seasons than other Trek shows did with the concept. At least he wasn’t ‘fine’ right after being alive. It took time and we saw him struggle and deal with it.

That said, yes, more beyond just his relationship with Stamets would be great.

ML31

He wasn’t “fine” because it’s not him. It’s some sort of Mycilial being.

Soo Lin

The litness and wokeness on STD is getting rather irritating now.

The ensemble cast is awful apart from Doug Jones, and the politically correct underpinnings are overt and somewhat crass.

Blow 9/10ths of this cast out of the airlock, please.