Anthony Rapp Talks Expanding His Repertoire In ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 4

The fourth season of Star Trek: Discovery started production last November. There a few hints as to what is to come, but not a lot. Now comes a little bit more from Anthony Rapp, who is also talking about the inclusivity in season three and beyond.

Rapp hints at new Stamets storyline for season four

Anthony Rapp was the guest on last week’s It Do Take Nerd with Jackie Cox podcast. When asked if he can anything reveal about what is to come in season four, the actor dropped this hint:

One of the cool things – I can’t tell you anything specific at all, but there’s an actor this season that I haven’t really got to interact with one-on-one with. That’s been one of the pleasures of season four so far. Getting to expand my repertoire of who I get to play in the sandbox with.

There’s not a lot to go on here, but this comment does hint at a new storyline for Rapp’s character of Paul Stamets in season four. While he didn’t say which actor he was working with more (and therefore which character is interacting more one-on-one with Stamets), by process of elimination there are only a few options. A good guess would be Stamets working more with Book (David Ajala), who is confirmed to be returning in season four. This could make sense as in the season three finale it was revealed that as an empath, Book had the ability to navigate the mycelial network and control the spore drive of the USS Discovery, something previously unique to Stamets.

But that’s just a guess. Rapp could be talking about Ian Alexander, whose character Gray is expected to become visible to other characters besides Adira in season four. Another possibility could be Admiral Vance (Oded Fehr), who dealt mostly with Saru and Michael in season three. And in theory, he could be talking about some of the actors who play bridge crew characters, or maybe even Doug Jones, being that Saru and Stamets haven’t had a lot of one-on-one scenes together.

Anthony Rapp lines up with the rest of the crew to greet Captain Burnham for the season three finale

Rapp sees Adira’s story as classic Star Trek

One character that Stamets spent a lot of time with during season three was Adira, played by Blu del Barrio. One of the storylines for the season was Adira coming out as non-binary on the show, which reflected the real-life experiences of del Barrio. Rapp spoke about how he felt this was a very Star Trek storyline and important for the show:

Star Trek has always been a way to look at racism, to look at differences, at class stuff. Because it’s taking place in a world word that doesn’t exist, so they can use the lens of different alien species and cultures clashing, as opposed to human beings with different skin color clashing. I do think that this this stuff that we’re exploring with gender expression and identity is resonating newly.

And it was an open question for us. 900 years in the future, what will these conversations be about gender? We think that’s probably going to be pretty handled. So yeah, that’s the attitude that Star Trek takes. It’s handled. You just are that and you say you are that. There’s not controversy around it. You don’t have to explain yourself. Blu’s character of Adira simply turns to Stamets and says, “I’m not a she,” and then that’s it. There’s no other conversation that has to happen.

Rapp also talked about his personal relationship with del Barrio – who is just getting their start in acting – also paralleled the relationship with Stamets and Adira:

It’s been a privilege and Blu del Barrio has been such a phenomenal human being and a phenomenal actor. This is their first professional job right out of drama school and from moment one in front of the camera they were just knocking out of the park, just destroying it with incredible authenticity and humor and ability and wherewithal… The bonus of it is I got to do this material that I love, but with someone that I grew to love so much. There is really this blend of life and art that just comes together in a wonderful way

Anthony Rapp as Lt. Paul Stamets and Blu del Barrio as Adira in “Scavengers”

Still nerding out

Being a self-described nerd and longtime fan of Star Trek, Rapp also talked about what it meant for him to be part of the show:

This whole experience has been such a bonus round experience. I would never have expected myself to have been on Star Trek. I would never had thought a nerd could be on a show like that. I was always going to be a fan of these shows, I didn’t think I was going to be on them.

Tig Notaro as engineer Jett Reno and Anthony Rapp as Lt. Paul Stamets in “Die Trying”

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I assumed he was talking about Ajala. Hopefully Ajala will get to break out and work with the rest of the cast more. Mostly we saw him with Burnham.

I really did like the relationship between Stamets and Adira. It felt a LITTLE forced, but overall fine. I agree with him, it’s also nice for Star Trek to highlight sexuality and gender and one of the more positive points about the show even if the show itself is still lacking in many ways.

But it is funny how four years ago people were yelling about Sulu and having a gay character in Beyond to how far it’s come in Discovery to the point you now have multiple gay characters (Stamets, Culber and Reno) along with now non-binary (Adira) and a transgendered (Gray) characters. This is what Star Trek is! Always has been, always will be!

And if all these prejudices are resolved by the 23rd and 24th century, I imagine all bets are off by the 32nd. ;)

Well said. <3

It certainly is wonderful progress, and important for them to be doing. I am not in love with how they’ve handled Gray or the Stamets/Adira relationship, but that’s a general comment about how Discovery handles character development in general.

But the only caveat I would add to the above is that some of the resistance to Sulu being g*y in Star Trek Beyond was for prejudiced reasons, and that should be abhorred. But for many, including me, the objection was about it being a crass decision that went against George Takei’s wishes as an artist and felt like it was cashing in on his sexuality rather than honoring him. I’m not a fan of any show or movie patting itself on the head for ticking a diversity box when the reasons are not entirely altruistic. I know Simon Pegg bent over backwards to justify the decision and his heart was in the right place, but in that case I really do think it was the wrong thing to do.

Also, I’d like to object to the word, “g-a-y” being flagged by the moderators or the platform as needing approval. The word is not offensive, but preemptively flagging it just to stop jerks from trying to use it as an insult is.

Good grief, is that what’s doing it? I’ve been trying to figure it out. It’s been kind of upsetting to have posts flagged, especially when the topic is diversity.

I’m alarmed that Trekmovie finds it necessary to do this in 2021. Jeepers, how often are folks abusing this?

I don’t want to open up the whole Beyond thing again, but I think George could have used a lot more tact in his public comments. I think Pegg’s reasons were altruistic and I don’t see how it was cashing in. It was a little ham-handed (and did they have to cut the kiss?) but it was really a blink and you’ll miss it moment.

Yeah, I really didn’t give it a second thought until I found out that they did it against Takei’s wishes.

My issue is just that they picked Sulu for that change because Takei himself is g-a-y. That’s trading on his sexuality which is very public and well-known. By doing so, they contradicted his artistic decisions – he never played Sulu with the understanding he was a g-a-y character. He told Pegg and co. he didn’t want them to do that, but they did it anyway. That is cashing in to me, otherwise they’d have made a new character g-a-y. He didn’t have to voice his disapproval, but he was inevitably asked about it and I dont begrudge him for being honest. The flap would have been avoided if they’d just respected him as an artist. The narrative hoops Pegg had to jump through to wriggle out of the situation in interviews were uncomfortable. The Narada blowing up the Kelvin made Sulu g-a-y and that just so happened to be something they could point to and get lots of publicity for. Mmkay.

OMG, I just wrote you a long response and it wasn’t even flagged, it just DISAPPEARED!!!! AAAAAAAAGGGGGH, so frustrating!

And there was nothing controversial about it since I basically agreed with everything you said minus one issue. Maybe it was a glitch. I’ll see if it shows up again, if not may write it again, but it’s so annoying.

Annnnnd it showed up again! ;)

“But the only caveat I would add to the above is that some of the resistance to Sulu being g*y in Star Trek Beyond was for prejudiced reasons, and that should be abhorred. But for many, including me, the objection was about it being a crass decision that went against George Takei’s wishes as an artist and felt like it was cashing in on his sexuality rather than honoring him.”

No, that is a very valid point and you are absolutely right! I want to make that clear (and I remember making it when it was first revealed) I can certainly understand why people had issue with Sulu himself being gay. For the record I didn’t have an issue with it, but understood why others did.

In fact I remember when I first saw that, I remember thinking ‘Wow, I can only imagine how honored George Takei must be over this.” And then I read his actual thoughts about it and I thought, “Ooooooh boy!” ;D

That is different However I DO disagree they were ‘cashing in’ though. I think it was really suppose to be a sincere statement to both Takei and a symbolism of how far we have come not just in Star Trek, but society of course. I completely get what Takei was saying and I can agree with it. But I think if both he and the character could’ve been openly gay when the show started in the sixties, then Sulu probably would’ve been gay from the start, right? I think that’s what the symbolism of making the character gay now was about. But yes, Takei disagreed so it is what it is. And if others felt like he did, all totally valid!

And btw, yes my original post was also flagged. I honestly thought it was because I said ‘sexuality’ which is weird in itself but why would GAY be flagged??? But thank you, now it’s another word I know to get around.

I usually just type in a substitute word, save that and then edit what I really want to say (as I literally did in this post). But yeah I didn’t realize I had to until now, so thanks!

Interesting to conjecture about! I’ve really no idea if Sulu would have been g-a-y if he’d been out and it wasn’t taboo in 1966. But I suspect that as he was barely given much of a life outside of his job, we probably still would have relied on Takei’s take on the character. I don’t know that he ever said he thought of Sulu as heterosexual because of contemporary prejudices, he came to a personal understanding of the character and played him accordingly. We got snippets over the years (mostly in the movies) that bore out his opinion.

Again, I think they traded on his sexuality. The work Takei did to be a proudly out g-a-y man in Hollywood was well-known, and they thought that was an easy in they could use. Fair enough, but it’s not like they ever consulted Walter Koenig to see if he would mind if they made Kelvin Chekov g-a-y. They thought they could easily sell this to the public because of Takei, even after he said it ran counter to his contributions to the franchise as an artist. That turned something that started with a genuinely altruistic motive into a crass move IMO.

It’s a touchy subject though, that of whether straight actors should or should not play g-a-y/bi/trans etc roles. I think when casting one should look everywhere (if you always cast someone like Scarlet Johansson as a trans character, how will actual trans artists ever get the visibility they need to be successful?), but straight actors shouldn’t be excluded from playing g-a-y characters any more than the reverse should be disallowed. I think it’s a wonderful change to be pushing for LGBT actors getting to play their own more, but it’s all art and I would rather we not look at everything as what is being taken away. When it comes to actors playing characters, I think it needs to be nebulous for sexuality, otherwise we’ll be pigeonholing actors and insulting their ability to get under the skin of characters, just as Takei was annoyed that a fundamental part of his craft was being swept aside because he was famously out.

Very Star Trek. In the future we learn to be delighted with what we are.

That pronoun conversation made me roll my eyes so hard. As forced as the rest of CBSTrek’s identity politics.

You tried.

Thread closed for political trolling

Stamets is a great character, very skillfully played. If the scripts call for Rapp to exercise his acting muscles that can only be a good thing.

I’m still trying to figure out why character moments on this show feels so short and rushed compared to TOS, DS9, TNG or even Picard.

Is it that there’s less dialogue? There are more characters, I suppose – but other shows had a bunch of characters, too.

I say this because I feel like I’ve barely seen Rapp in the show in this last season — aside from his work in the final couple of episodes.

Agreed as well Jack, but sadly that is the nature of both serialization and the crazy over packing of stories they throw into these shows, especially in Discovery. They made it clear Picard was going to be slower from the beginning (and they weren’t lying ;)). But Discovery, everything is go-go-go! Or it mostly revolves around Michael and aaaallll her drama. ;)

Honestly though, I thought they did better in the last season compared to the first two at least. Even some of the bridge crew got a few character moments, but yes still pretty small overall.

Michael Burnham is the main character, MICHAEL BURNHAM IS THE MAIN CHARACTER!!!!!!

I couldn’t care less about Michael Burnham! But I love Paul Stamets.

It does not help that characters disappear for whole episodes at a time. I don’t mind it here and there for things like sending off Georgiou or showing Burnham and Discovery’s very different first days in the far future. But this happens on the regular – Stamets, Culber, Adira, Gray, Reno are picked up and put down randomly and pacey action is the show’s primary concern. Hence the show relying a lot on characters being declarative and overly emphatic in how they emote things like saying goodbye to the same Georgiou who we never saw them warm up to, beaming with joy to the hilt upon hearing Tilly has been promoted or Burnham has survived, or blurting out how much they love their crewmates (even Janeway at her most maternal would NEVER)… it rarely feels earned to me, they are not putting in the work consistently. Things like Saru’s struggles I could relate to, little moments of domesticity for Stamets and Culber worked, Georgiou’s conflicted feelings in her final episode fell into place. But overall, the character work is sloppy, second fiddle and a bit condescending in all its unearned payoffs.

I’m a cynical person, but I am completely at the mercy of these shows when I watch the usual suspects like TWOK/Family/Reunion/The Inner Light/Duet/The Visitor/Drone/Someone to Watch Over Me. The character work the older shows put in was often only in the fact that they gave Uhura/Kim/Crusher/Mayweather lines every week, but there was this inherited reverence of how story would affect character from Michael Piller that I think rubbed off even to the end of Enterprise. I’m not feeling it for Discovery after 4 years. It’s haphazard for Picard, but that show had nearly as messy a production as Discovery did its first year, and we saw the title character developed thoughtfully, at least to begin with.

I hope season 4 is going to be better. 3 was the worst star trek I’ve ever seen.

A child has a tantrum and destroys the federation. That is the worst plotline I’ve ever heard. And all the crying. “The ship is gonna blow in 1 minute, but I’m taking my time to tell you guys that I love you”.

Please fire the writers. If I wanted emo trek, I’d watch The Vampire Diaries or something.

And get over yourself with the diversity B.S. More vagina and less white has nothing to do with diversity. It’s just ramming leftist bigotry down our collective throats.

… You do know what bigotry is, right? Being prejudiced against peoples’ genders and skin colors is bigoted. Embracing all genders and skin colors is LITERALLY the OPPOSITE of bigotry.

To use small words: You are a bigot. Star Trek generally is not.

Can we ban that guy?


Stamets is the big bad for season 4. Calling it.