The first Virtual Trek Con wrapped up on Monday. We have already reported on the excellent Star Trek: Deep Space Nine panels and gotten some season three updates from the Star Trek: Discovery panel. Here are a few more noteworthy videos from the online event.
Michelle Hurd on diversity and the and the science of Raffi’s addictions in Star Trek: Picard
Star Trek: Picard actress Michelle Hurd (Raffi) had a Saturday panel where she talked about her audition process, including having to read for the role right after having surgery. She was so motivated to get the part she quickly weaned herself off painkillers before shooting her audition tape. The veteran actress explained why landing this role was so important to her:
The character is too glorious for me not to try… I feel like of all the characters I have played in my almost 30 years in this industry, and mind you, I have always chosen to have strong women because I am woman of color. I want to represent as well. I want to show, as well as being a biracial child, I want to show all these different mix-y people that we are here, that we are valid, that we can contribute and we can look like this [grabbing her curly hair] and be employed. So I have always tried to make sure that the parts I play are of a learned person, an educated person, a strong person.
The actress said she watched Star Trek reruns as a child and the moment where Captain Kirk kissed Uhura was important to her and her mixed-race family, saying, “That was the first time we saw our world reflected on television, two people of different races kiss. It was phenomenal.” Hurd even brought more of her pride to the character of Raffi by asking for the character to have “even more” of her naturally curly hair. “I wanted to sell it to the home base that curls and crazy, natural, textured, funky hair like we do is still alive and proud and loud in 2400,” said Hurd, adding “it is so important to see yourself reflected in society.”
Hurd said in addition to liking how the Raffi was a “genius,” she was also attracted to how the character was not perfect and had flaws. She talked about how it was even important to her how Raffi’s addictions were shown:
I remember saying to [showrunner] Michael [Chabon] I really wanted to make sure that if we are going to do this, that if she has an addiction, I didn’t want it to be one or the other. I didn’t want her to just be an alcoholic or addicted to her horgl plant… Whenever we see people drinking wine these days everything is fine, you don’t project anything on that person. When you see someone smoking pot or something you instantly project that is a lowlife, that is a drug addict… I thought that is wrong. There are more deaths from alcoholism than from marijuana, so I wanted to make sure she has a science of how she does this… I wanted more than one crutch.
Watch the full panel below:
Robert Beltran actually liked some Voyager writers, not sure wants to be in Picard
One of the final panels was with Star Trek: Voyager’s Robert Beltran (Chakotay), who is famous for his critical views of the writing on the series. But Beltran made it clear his critiques weren’t across the board. He explained his issues with the show developed over time:
It was really good when Jeri Taylor was still there and Michael Piller. They were great writers and they had a feel for Chakotay, I thought. Ken Biller did also. In general after about the third year I thought, ‘I just want to do my work as an actor… and as long as they don’t have me doing something too stupid or embarassing,’ although I think they got away with that several times.
Beltran clarified that with both Taylor and Piller, he was able to talk to them about any issues he had:
They were very receptive. With the others, it was the quality. They had maybe one good scene per episode [for Chakotay], but there were maybe two or three that were throwaway, I felt. Any other character could have done them. That didn’t seem very challenging for me.
The actor said one of his main issues was finding ways to have “one good scene every episode” with a character that wasn’t Janeway or wasn’t on the bridge. “It seemed like I was always talking to Kate [Mulgrew] and for everybody else, I was just, ‘Hey, how ya doin’. That’s all I ever asked of them.”
Later when asked if he would be open to reprising the role of Chakotay in Star Trek: Picard, Beltran was mostly skeptical. “I would have to read it first.” To illustrate his concern he pointed to the appearance of some Voyager actors in The Orville:
I was really surprised they had nothing to do [on The Orville]. They had one or two lines… I would not do that. Just to be on the show, it’s not enough for me. [mockingly] I want to be on The Orville! No. And I don’t necessarily want to be on Picard.”
Check out the full video below.
Gary Graham wants to play a smiling Soval in Strange New Worlds
Actor Gary Graham played the Vulcan ambassador Soval on Star Trek: Enterprise. As Vulcans are long-lived, he was asked if he would be interested in reprising the role as an older Soval for the upcoming series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Graham was all for the idea:
That would be fun. I obviously love the character… And I would love to see him 100 years older, a little bit wiser. Maybe the arrogance has melded into something else, a sureness. It would be interesting to see what they came up with Soval 100 years older. I would love it.
The actor also mused on how he could play the character differently in the 23rd-century setting:
I would play it older and wiser. Maybe his emotions are more in check. As Archer famously intoned, “Raising your voice to make a point? You have been on Earth too long.” Maybe he has been on Earth all this time and has become very un-Vulcan. Maybe the High Command saw Terra-ization of Soval from his long tenure on Earth and drew him back for those 80 years. Maybe he became ultra-Vulcanish… It would be funny if he had been on Earth too long and wasn’t just prone to bouts of anger but prone bouts of lightheartedness, giddiness. Maybe he smiles. Maybe he laughs… It would be interesting to play a Vulcan who has been on Earth too long.
See the full panel:
A message from Nichelle Nichols
Star Trek star Nichelle Nichols provided the con with a touching prerecorded message of “warm wishes” for Star Trek fans. The 87-year-old actress, who is suffering from dementia, said she was “eager” to see fans at her Farewell Celebration, which has been postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and promised new dates will be available “very soon.” Offering a message of optimism during these difficult times, the original Uhura reminded fans there is “a bright future just over the horizon.”
Even more from Virtual Trek con
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