Michelle Hurd On Raffi’s Addiction, Robert Beltran Wary Of Reprising Chakotay, And More Virtual Trek Con

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

There are even more panels from Virtual Trek Con to check out, including some fascinating behind-the-scenes discussions. You can check out all the panels on the 7th Rule YouTube channel.

Keep up with all the convention news and reports at TrekMovie.com.

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I had never seen michelle hurd before… and man she is so good in Picard. i love all the new characters but raffi is probably my favorite. now that she was proven correct about the conspiracy i hope we get a followup with her son. that scene with her and him was heartbreaking and she nailed it.

She really is such a great actor playing such an amazingly layered character. Raffi would’ve fit right in with DS9. We are lucky to have her.

Soval in SNW? Hell fucking yes.

And maybe Chakotay in Picard is exactly how we get the type of Chakotay we and Beltran each wanted to see. It’d be interesting if something happened to Seven, like she’s kidnapped or something, and Raffi and Chakotay have to learn to get along (Chakotay being Seven’s ex and Raffi being Seven’s current relationship) in order to work together to go to the rescue. Or maybe not…. I’m not a writer lol.

Likewise. I’d never seen her before, but I’m so impressed by her. I loved the character she played, and I thought she played her superbly. I also loved the person that the interview revealed; it’s clear that she’s an extremely thoughtful lady who’s incredibly aware of her impact on the world.

Star Trek has been blessed because many of the actors who’ve represented it over the years have been thoughtful people who’ve taken their characters very seriously and who’ve tried to make their characters have a positive impact on viewers. Michelle Hurd is in the tradition of people like Leonard Nimoy … and I don’t have many compliments higher than that. :-)

I think Michelle Hurd is hot.

She’s cute and sweet.

She’s more than hot, buckaroo. She’s Heart. And superb at her job portraying a wonderful, many-layered character.

Michelle Hurd is amazing in Picard. Raffi is so sweet. I love it when she calls Picard JL.

Chakotay is not my favorite character from Voyager, I’m not sure if I want to see him again.

Agreed! Chakotay could have been an interesting character, but I always found Beltran boring. I think a different actor could have drawn more out of the character.

You can only draw so much out of the writing. Beltran is right.

I’d love to see Soval and T’Pol on Strange New Worlds.

Soval definately, not so sure on T’Pol.

Soval maybe, T’Pol, not so much. Probably no to Chakotay – outside of bit roles now, he seems to prefer to be away from Hollywood. Nothing wrong with that.

Interesting. I thought Graham was lousy at playing a Vulcan, and if we see Soval on SNW, I’d prefer to see the character recast.

T’Pol please.

For me, T’Pol and Tripp were the two most compelling main cast characters of the series.

I know the actor was extremely unhappy with the way the early wrap and finale for Enterprise were handled, but it would be great if she could get past that. It would need to be a really meaningful role, and I could see possibilities for that more on SNW.

They’ll need to recast. Pretty sure Ms. Blalock is no longer working in the entertainment industry. She definately is sour on the franchise.

If you mean she hasn’t done anything in the last few years then yes. But she had been active 2017 and before. And she is hotter than anything ST lately! https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0086883/

Please watch your language, friend! Saying such denigrating things about females as them being ‘hot’ will get you insta-cancelled these days! ;)

I would definitely NOT want to see Beltran on PICARD or THE ORVILLE. He’s a very limited actor, largely incapable of emoting, which is why we haven’t seen him in anything significant post-Voyager. I’d rather both of those shows continue to feature strong performers instead of dipping into the well of mediocre talent just for the sake of bringing back past TREK actors.

I think the reason why we haven’t seen him at all post- voyager is, like Wang as well, he complains one helluva lot. The guy never stops. People are put off by that, I know I am.

Wang has found his true vocation as a major domo of myriad conventions, which he truly seems to relish, is very well suited to effectively carry out, and I don’t doubt earns him more than a pretty penny, in aggregate. While he’s shown up in a few ST related productions, over the years, I really don’t think he misses acting much at all.

There is no need for him to be on the show. Plain and simple.

Why so much dislike against Beltran?

Internet fandom can be cruel when Trek performers don’t fawn all over the franchise. Jennifer Lien has been savaged when she comes up as a topic of conversation from time to time.

Jennifer Lien is unfortunately mentally unstable now, so she can never come back for anything.
A shame as I really like the character of Kes. They simply got rid of her cause she wasn’t considered sexy.

Kind of hard to make a two-three year old sexy (wasn’t that her real character’s age?) I felt like Nelix was a child molester most of the show. And wasn’t she in HS during the first season? Almost like a 40 year old hitting on Westley in season one of TNG.

Jennifer Lien was 20/21 when Voyager started.

Ms. Lien’s contract wasn’t renewed because the showrunners weren’t going to pay for an additional cast member, with the arrival of Jerri Ryan. Period. She wasn’t replaced, and it had nothing to do with sex appeal being lacking in the show, per se, but given Voyager’s timeline in the DQ, the Borg were going to come on the scene, regardless, and as part of that move that was hoped to boost ratings, Ms. Ryan was chosen.

In fact, as it’s pretty universally accepted, Garrett Wang had been chosen to be given the door, as clearly had been foreshadowed, in Scorpion I. However, he was given the rather irrelevant honor of copping a place in People’s Most Sexiest Man issue (in the high 20’s!!!) contemporaneously, and TPTB thought this connoted some true PR cred for the character (even though Wang was hardly held in much esteem by the showrunners), which might have made ditching an Asian-American actor, more problematic than was first reckoned.

So, in exchange for some attention that probably lasted as long as the issue was on the sales racks, Lien was the only other actor, whose character was reckoned to be as practically expendable, and was let go, which I think was a real error (a view shared by a number of the writers), as there was a great deal that could have been made between the association of Kes with Seven, with thoughts that the former could have taken the role as mentor, just as she did with the Doctor, perhaps, evolving into a sisterly relationship, which might have proved as thorny for Janeway, but in a way somewhat more expansive and nuanced, than how it actually played out.

Phil, that’s not it at all. At no point did I say anything about him not fawning all over the franchise, and neither did anyone else. His lack of talent is the issue being discussed. Stay on target. And Lien has not been “savaged” for not fawning over the franchise. She’s a likable person and a good actor who, sadly, suffers from severe mental illness.

The sad thing is that Beltran is not actually a limited actor, and The Fight would do in anyone. He’s ridiculously charismatic and funny is Eating Raoul, and had decent turns in Bugsy and Big Love. He’s not wrong to say the character on paper petered out, and no actor could spin gold out of what he had to work with from Season 4 onwards. Chakotay went from defying Janeway and going rogue to deal with Seska to just lounging in the chair next to her spouting technobabble and occasionally disagreeing with Janeway when she was written to suddenly go rogue. Toothless.

I respect your different opinion, of course, but I thought he was just as bland and non-believable in both Eating Raoul and Big Love. I haven’t seen Bugsy, but I doubt I’d feel differently, given his typical brand of non-acting. To each their own, though. I’m glad you can enjoy his performances. I wish I could.

Beltran was on fire during the first episode, when he was the leader of the Maquis. Once he’d become Janeway’s first officer, he turned into a block of wood. It’s true that he wasn’t given good material after that first episode, but phoning in what he was given didn’t make him any friends.

Once the Maquis/Starfleet crew divide was eliminated by the network as an ongoing plot line, as had been emphasized in the show bible, Chakotay was incrementally tied to the possibility of a romantic connection with Janeway. That may well have been the Blue Screen of Death for the character, as Mulgrew was never going to countenance that prospect coming to fruition. So, after Season 2, he certainly had episodes centered on him, but those declined after Seven’s appearance, until their connection was attempted to be established, late in the final season.

I can’t claim to have seen Beltran in many other roles, but I have read that he’s pretty highly esteemed as a stage actor, which as he intimated in the conversation, is his preferred metier, when compared to film or TV, though not as highly compensated, at his level.

Nichelle Nichols is a class lady. May she continue to grace us with her presence for the foreseeable future. Robert Beltran is starting to sound more and more like Shatner as he gets older. I’d love to see Soval and Gary Graham involved in one of the new shows, maybe it can even be a flashback scene if they don’t want to age up the character.

Actually, given her current health status, I’d be a lot happier if her handlers would let her head off into the sunset gracefully. She’s done her bit for fandom, to keep trotting her out to make a few more bucks is just obscene.

Yeah, as someone who had a parent with dementia, I find this concerning.

maybe she gets a ton of pleasure still from talking to fans. whatever makes her happy

From the legal conflict with her son last year, it sounds as though Nichelle herself very much wants to keep going with conventions in some way.

It doesn’t seem like the money is a factor.

God bless Nichelle Nichols.

Is it true the current powers-that-be had devised a Short Treks for Nichelle as Uhura? Bless her soul for doing this videos, but its obvious at her age and health she shouldnt be made to act. My father has suffered from dementia for a decade now. He is only 65 and i worry about him being in any social setting.

Unless there’s an actual citation for that somewhere, I’d just chalk that up as internet rumor. Let her enjoy her remaining time in peace….

Yes, confirmed by Akiva Goldsman

Had to dig a bit to find the citation – apparently it was a Short Trek story idea that got tossed around and abandoned early on in the process. It ended up being part of the genesis for Picard.
Had Kurtzman and Beyer actually done this to her, they would have deserved the ire of the internet heaped on them.

I recall that Ms. Nichols suffered a stroke a few years ago. I don’t think I’d seen any video of her since then.

I saw her in person at a screening of ST4 several years ago in Santa Monica.

I wish her a wonderful retirement and a graceful farewell appearance when it can be scheduled.

OMG Raffi is such an important, very human Star Trek character. And Michelle Hurd is the best person for this role. I can’t think of anyone else as Raffi. I love love love her!

Boy, I do not understand the love for Raffi at all. She’s possibly my least favorite Trek character of all. Michelle Hurd is fine, but the role itself is bottom-barrel for me.

The character doesn’t belong in the Federation. Someone like that would not exist there.

To say she wouldn’t exist is absurd. I agree that she’s not a good character, but the Trek universe is FILLED with dysfunctional people, including drug users and those with depression. Learn your Trek history before you make easily disproved blanket statements.

The federation is a fictional place, but it’s not a magical place.

chakotay and b’elanna were my favorite characters on Voyager so i would be happy to see Beltran again. i dont understand the dislike. what he said was true. they could have done a lot more w his character

Michelle Hurd is a classy and mature actress (in the best sense) that raises any material above its baseline, even and especially in Picard. In that sense she is the anti-MSG, whose grimacing (vulgo: emoting) drags the melodramatic drivel called Discovery even further down. But no, the cast of Picard (both characters and actors, save for the Romulan duo infernale, maybe) was never my problem with the show – that lies squarely with the writing. Despite (or because?) Pulitzer God involvement!

One part of that is the overblown addiction of Hurd’s character, which does not just clash with 30 years of 24th century canon, but also with Picard’s previous characterization. You see, LATE Gene had a decidedly different take on substance abuse than his younger self (no doubt informed by his premature drug-furthered health decline) and made sure TNG season 1 included a strong anti-drug message, delivered by none other than Picard. That this same Picard would stand by grinning like a senile octogenarian while Raffi continues her self-destruction is a hard pill to swallow, and one more item that makes this show insuitable for children (it also proves as one of many examples that Trek before was NOT, in fact, firmly in one partisan camp but decidedly rejected the pro-drug, drug-legalization dogma that is favored by the new stateholders of Trek).

How’s Picard pro-drug, exactly?

And pro-decriminalization/legalization isn’t the same as being pro-drug – it’s a recognition that the current system isn’t working to prevent/treat addiction. .

It’s a bit like throwing the hands in the air and abolishing door locks and persecution of thieves since burglaries can’t be contained, isn’t it? Let them roam free, they are just misunderstood and victims of the system rather than their own character ;)

But then again, that is EXACTLY the recipe of that faction for illegal immigration as well. I smell a pattern here… Good to know Trek was always pro-border, Isaac’s lunatic little speech in Discovery season 1 notwithstanding, of course ;)

Nobody wants Picard to turn toward the camera and say DRUGS BAD ( a la TNG season 1), but narratively they are not making much of a point about it either, certainly not positively.

I agree with Tom Riker- michelle hurd is a good actress and Raffi is my favorite character as well!!
Hey Tom any relationship to Commander Will Riker?

Tom Riker is Will Riker’s transporter clone, so… yes.

yes… im the smarter version of him… we split years ago and went in opposite directions… i wonder where i am during the picard era?

What a twist it would be if it is revealed that this Riker we saw in Picard WAS actually Thomas Riker….da da da dan… I’d expect something like this from these producers.

To Michelle, I wasnt so sure I would like Raffi when I was first introduced. Boy was I wrong! Thank you for your addition to Star Trek. Peace! Love! David

Sad to hear about Nichelle. I think they should let her alone given the circumstances. Seems selfish (and greedy) for fans, producers, and promoters to do otherwise.

Always liked the characters Michelle Hurd has portrayed. Glad she pushed to keep her hair natural for Picard. Loved the strong character she played in Blindspot series.

Fortunately for Beltran, nobody is exactly clamoring FOR him to reprise his role as Chakotay…or much of anything else, for that matter.