Interview: Tawny Newsome And Jack Quaid On How ‘Lower Decks’ S2 Is Great Star Trek… And Gives “Zero Fs”

The second season of the animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks arrives next week and TrekMovie had a chance to talk with members of the cast about the new season. Speaking to TrekMovie and a handful of other outlets in a group interview, Tawny Newsome (Beckett Mariner) and Jack Quaid (Bradward Boimler) gave us a preview of what is to come for both the show and their characters in season two and more.

What’s new for Lower Decks in season two? 

Tawny Newsome: For the show overall–Jack and I were actually just texting about this. We just watched episodes one through five of season two and we feel like–while it was confident last year–but this year it’s so sure of itself. It’s so sure of its sense of humor. I feel like all the performances, all the writing. We’re like, “Yes, we know this is funny. We know this is great Star Trek.” And there’s zero apologies for it. Zero Fs given. And I love it.

Jack Quaid: Yeah, I love it too. It’s not that we weren’t confident last season, like you said, but this season we got all the setup out of the way. We don’t have to set up the world and the ship and all that. You know these characters and we just take you to insane places… I can’t wait for you guys to check it out. I love it so much.

Who is your favorite guest star or cameo in season two?

Tawny Newsome: I’m going to go with the one that we’re all so excited about, Carl Tart as Kayshon, the new security officer, the Tamarian. If you’re not familiar with Carl Tart, he is an incredible improviser. He’s a UCB guy that I know through doing a lot of improv podcasts, like Comedy Bang Bang and SPONTANEANATION with Paul F. Tompkins. I just fell in love with Carl’s silly, goofy, onstage presence and his on-mic presence and all those podcasts. And to have this character, I think it is the perfect pairing of voice with alien because the Tamarians as we know speak in these metaphors from this incredible critically acclaimed episode of TNG [“Darmok”] that’s like walking Shakespeare. Paul Winfield was incredible in the [original Tamarian] role. And to have a goofy weirdo like Carl saying these… I think it’s perfect. I think it’s an exact example of what Lower Decks does so well. It takes the thing we all love, it puts a weirdo behind the mic to bring it to life and expose what’s kind of funny about it. I am so excited for Carl to join the world.

Jack Quaid: He’s incredible in the show. It’s insane. I agree with Tawny, but I’ll add I’m excited for Jonathan Frakes to return. I love this version of Riker that we haven’t really seen before, where he gets to be a little nuttier and a little bit more jazzy… It’s really great. He was amazing in our season one finale, and he is great in [season two].

Jack Quaid as Brad Boimler, Vanessa Marshall as First Officer, and Jonathan Frakes as Capt. William T. Riker in Star Trek: Lower Decks season two

What’s different for Mariner and Boimler in season two?

Tawny Newsome: For Mariner, the biggest difference in season two… Obviously, we know at the end of season one she’s now working with Captain Freeman. And it’s not great for either of them. I can tell you that they don’t love it. So not having the anonymity and not having her little secret of being the captain’s daughter puts all of her stuff on blast. She has to do all of her sneaky little side missions in full view of the rest of the crew and the captain. So that’s rough.

Jack Quaid: For Boimler this season, he’s still on the Titan. The Titan is a really important ship, whereas the Cerritos isn’t as much to Starfleet. So the Titan is going on high-stakes missions. We’re fighting the Pakleds and Boimler is a little bit out of his depth this season. He’s book-smart, but he’s just not really that great at thinking on his feet, and that’s something he has to do a lot on the Titan. So there’s a little bit of ‘be careful what you wish for’ happening.

Where did you want to see the arc of your characters headed for the new season?

Jack Quaid: For me, I did want to see Boimler get just a hair more confident, just to show a bit of growth. Obviously, we hope the show goes on for a very long time and we need to make sure to parcel that out. We can’t just be self-actualized immediately. But it’s cool to see Boimler change, especially from who he was last season.

Tawny Newsome: That’s nice of you to think that we plan things… I didn’t approach it with any goals. Truly, I loved season one. I feel like it was one of the easiest jobs–not that the job is easy, but just that [creator/showrunner] Mike McMahan and I formed such a friendship and he started really writing to my strengths and we got to know each other. I just felt like I went in the booth and could just be the fullest, most heightened expression of myself. And that’s what Mariner is. She’s Tawny plus a few bad choices in her life, and some really great ones… It’s a Mirror Universe Tawny. So it was so easy, and the second season, I was just like, “Oh, great, I just want to go in there and have fun with my friends again.” That was my whole plan and I did it. And in season three we are doing it too. It’s been great.

Will we get more of Boimler and Mariner’s individual backstories before the Cerritos?

Jack Quaid: Yes, a bit. That was always such an interesting part about the show, particularly with Tawny’s character, just seeing where she’s been. Because she’s had this kind of history. I feel like this is more your question? Yes, we do get into it a little bit more.

Tawny Newsome: Yeah, Boimler has kind of worn his past on his sleeve a bit… I know everyone wants to know about Mariner. I’ve seen all the theories… Was Mariner a child on the Enterprise? Is Mariner a time traveler? Is Mariner in some secret ops? There are all these things… Why has Mariner been to all these places and worked with all these people? How old is she? Is she 1,000? Is she 25 like the rest of them? And the answer is: I’m not gonna tell you, and some of it’s because I don’t know and some of it’s because we reveal a little bit in the season. So it’ll be delightful when you find out. But you’re just in it for the long haul with her. She’s not going to tell you all her shit upfront. She’s just not–the show or the character. So you just got to keep watching.

How are Mariner and Boimler affected by being separated between the Titan and the Cerritos?

Jack Quaid: For Boimler, I don’t think he realizes how much Mariner really means to him. Or part of him misses the Cerritos, but he was just so bowled over by the idea of this promotion and this new life of his that he didn’t really quite realize how much he missed them. I can’t really get into it too much, but by the end of this season, he really understands just how important Mariner is to him. Because I always thought of the two of them as best friends who just won’t admit that they’re best friends. And I think we see a bit more of that this season. I’m really excited to show you guys the turns in that relationship.

Tawny Newsome: Yeah. I’ll add that I think we see Mariner be pretty hurt that her friend abandoned her without even saying goodbye. That’s pretty shitty. So we didn’t see Mariner expose… hurt a lot in the first season. So that’s a vulnerable side that we haven’t seen before. And how she deals with that, of course, is by being aggressive but yeah, I think that’s interesting.

How is Mariner still learning what she loves about Starfleet, especially after Boimler leaving her on the Cerritos?

Tawny Newsome: Oh, that’s a great question. I feel like she had to drop some of the artifice of being too cool for school, a little bit. Which we learned in season one–especially at the end of it–was a façade. She does love the job. She just wants to do it her way. In season two–with what I talked about earlier about kind of being on display with everyone knowing she’s the Captain’s daughter and not being able to sneak around–that comes with you have to drop the façade a little bit because otherwise why would you stick around? So I think she’s a little more direct. She’s a little more, “This is what I want to do and why.” Whereas last year, she maybe had cool cover reasons for why she was doing certain things. And this year she just has to be like, “I want to do this because I think it would be good.” So yeah, maybe she’s a little more honest, which sounds scary because she was very honest last year.

Tawny Newsome as Beckett Mariner and Dawnn Lewis as Captain Carol Freeman in Star Trek: Lower Decks season two

Do you get all the Star Trek in-jokes?  

Jack Quaid: I feel like Tawny knows more than I do. I’m kind of a burgeoning [fan]. I know more than I did when I first got this job, but I am still learning, definitely. Tawny just told me what Trills and symbionts were, so that was a whole day.

Tawny Newsome: I did really geek out for a long time telling him. For people their eyes kind of glaze over when you start going in on things like Trills and the difference between joined and unjoined Trills, but Jack was right there.

Jack Quaid: I will say there is an in-joke [in episode 203]. There was an Easter egg in there, and I was like, “Oh, oh, I know what that is!” I was so proud of myself that I spotted it. For an average Trek fan they would be like “Of course we get that,” but I am definitely learning.

Tawny Newsome: But Mike and the writers still do things that surprise me, or there are some things that I have only a vague memory. I’m like, “Is this the guy who…?” and Mike’s like “No, this is a different person.” There is one thing I can’t tell you what it is. It’s not so much an Easter egg as it is a blatant mention of a legacy character. It’s a passing mention that Mike had written a joke in. In the booth I was like I feel this joke kind of doesn’t work because of this thing that I remember about this character, but I read it and we recorded it. And then I went home and texted him in the middle of the night. I was like, “You can’t use that joke because this character actually this, this, this.” And Mike was like, “Fuck, it’s fine. No one cares about it.” And it’s in the episode and I told him that every “reply guy” tweet I get about that I’m just tagging Mike McMahon. I’m gonna be like, “Talk to this man because I warned him. I knew the real thing.”

Who from the Star Trek universe would you personally want as a talking commemorative plate?

Tawny Newsome: I want one of Kira Nerys. Deep Space Nine is my Trek. If I wasn’t in Lower Decks, Deep Space Nine would forever be my favorite. And Kira is such a hardcore badass. Kira is basically Antifa, and we love her… Kira is incredible and I feel like anytime I was doubting or confused or whatever, she’d be like, “You know who you are!” She would give me the most stern incredible pep talk. That’s what I would need in my life.

Jack Quaid: Mine would be Simon Pegg’s Scotty, just so I could hang out with him… I just want to hang out with Simon Pegg, that is what I’m trying to say.

Robert Duncan McNeill as talking Tom Paris plate in Star Trek: Lower Decks season two

Are you recording together again for season three?

Jack Quaid: Because of the pandemic we weren’t able to record together for season two, which was such a shame because I love being in the booth with you. It’s like my favorite thing. What was okay about it for me, though, was watching the show, you don’t really notice it, because I think we had so much time in the booth together in season one that we kind of know, more or less, what the other person’s bringing to the table without them actually being there. But as of now, we haven’t recorded together for season three, but it’s possible. I’d love to do it once I’m back in town.

Tawny Newsome: I think our problem is not even COVID. It’s just that Jack and I are always working on opposite sides of Canada for some reason. Like we both go to Canada the same day, but I’m in Vancouver [shooting Space Force] and he’s in Toronto [shooting The Boys], so we can never get together. And productions frown on you flying to meet in the middle to go have ice cream like I suggested.

I think that everyone just working keeps us apart, but I do think Mike and I have formed such a friendship, Jack and I have formed such a friendship. And Eugene [Cordero] and I have worked together for years doing improv with Paul F. Tompkins… And Noël [Wells] does so much voice work. Noël is such a voice work pro, and all of our cast too, like Dawnn [Lewis] too. I feel like it’s just gotten into a groove where Mike knows how to write for us and we almost know how to play off of each other even when we’re not there. Like I know how Jack is going to deliver a certain line when I read it now, so I feel like it has the feeling of being together. If that’s not the most COVID shit, I don’t know what is. It feels like we’re all together just because we’ve listened to each other’s voices so much.

Jack Quaid: But hopefully we will get back in the booth soon because it’s my literal favorite thing.

Noland North as miner, Vanessa Marshall as First Officer, and Jack Quaid as Brad Boimler in Star Trek: Lower Decks season two

ICYMI: SDCC 2021 trailer

In case you missed it, here is the trailer released in late July.

Star Trek: Lower Decks season two arrives on Paramount+ in the USA and CTV in Canada Sci-Fi on Thursday, August 12th. It will be available internationally on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, August 13th, and in Latin America in September.


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Why aren’t they going full podcast style with both calling each other while simultaneously both separately recording in their booths. The editing magic makes it seem super fluid in podcasts, so it might work here as well..

“And Kira is such a hardcore badass. Kira is basically Antifa, and we love her…”

Ugh. Kira was no Bolshevik stagnant statist Marxist demanding more government under them while burning down the neighborhood and threatening said government employees.

Replace antifa with any real freedom fighting institution and I’d fully agree.

Antifa has been and still is a significant part of the anitfachist movements in society. They were a big part of the resistance against the Nazis in WW2 this is something that you can learn about in School over here in Europe. They have quite the diverse and complex history. Maybe we Europeans are just a bit more into the details of that stuff than other places on earth.

No European I know thinks “Antifa” was a significant part of resisting the National Socialists (NAZI) party in WW2.
In fact Antifa spends more time going after Winston Churchill statues who if you actually know your European history was a “a big part of the resistance against the Nazis in WW2”.
I guess you could claim that the Bolshevik’s fought Nazi’s only to enslave Eastern Europe, the Ukraine and Russia??? That’s what your talking about? They too pretended to be about fighting facist socialists only to turn out to be.. facist communists. I’m willing to draw a line there, anything beyond that and I’d say your in 1984 terrictory.

Oh, when Americans use the term, they’re generally referring to white dweebs who attempt to fire-bomb Starbucks and who tend to congregate in the Pacific Northwest.

Not even the tiniest bit accurate, no.

No, it pretty much is very accurate. Those antifa folks are cowards at heart. Shine a light on them and they scatter.

Sir, this is a Wendy’s.

You’re probably giving too much intellectual credit to bored white teen arsonists of Greater Portland.

Its just so disgusting what she said. ANTIFA is a terrorist organisation and giving such reverence to it just shows how incredibly dangerous people in Hollywood really are.

Antifa isn’t even an organization, terrorist or otherwise. It’s an ideology of anti-fascism. Your comment is ridiculous.

It very much is a terrorist organisation and supporting it makes you pro-terrorist.

I know who you voted for 🤣🤣

Yes, Bill Shorten of the Australian Labor Party.

Antifa isn’t any kind of organization. It’s simply an adjective meaning anti-fascist. People who fight Nazis are referred to as antifa, that’s all.

That’s what they would love for you to think. It’s like calling the cereal Froot Loops and pretending there is actual fruit in it. It’s a lie. If you watch their activities, they use the same tactics as the fascists used. They are less about being anti-fascist and more about destroying our government, and yes, some lives as well. Hard to have sympathy for a group that cemented doors to a police precinct shut and then lit the place on fire. With people inside. But sure, they are all good people who just want to fight fascism.

ANTIFA Is pretty cool bro.

Correct. It was an awful comparison. This person obviously either is sympathizing with a known domestic terror group or she is completely ignorant to what they truly are. It was a tremendous error for her to say it. But to be fair, I think it less “dangerous” and more ignorant. Many Hollywood people think they know things and then they say things like that and show the world they don’t. And ultimately does nothing to entice people to watch the show. What she really ought to be saying is something like, “We learned a lot from season 1 and are prepared to make the show work much better.” Or words to some effect.

Sounds to me like you don’t know what “antifa” actually is.

Sad to see so much blind ignorance, illiteracy, and general MAGAtry on a Trek website.

Sad to see support for violent thugs and criminals on a Trek website.

You mean the violent thugs that tried to overturn the election? Or maybe the Proud Boys and other right wing thugs who tried to start race wars around the George Floyd protests? Are those the violent thugs to which you refer?

I don’t see anyone supporting them here, yet supporting left-wing terrorists is cool? What a perverted world.

Very SAD

Yikes, don’t watch Omega Glory or a Private Little War!!!
Might be because I’m Canadian, but pretty sure somewhere in Moscow there is some ex-KGB agent going “if only we had lasted two more decades, our internationale would have won!!!!”

Don’t watch Omega Glory because it’s plain bad! I don’t think I will watch that episode again for another decade. The other one is good at least.

It’s baffling to me that any Trump supporter could also be a Trek fan.

LOL same. And every week we get more and more eye rolling information on that corrupt clown. The latest, his attempted coup within the DOJ to stay in power. If Trump represented anything in Star Trek, it would be one of those evil admirals or a Romulan.

Yes, Kyra was antifa, would be against racist trumpian fascism as it exists today. And yes, back in the 1940’s fascists also spread derogatory stereotypes meant to denigated anti-fascists in order to further their authoritarian agendas; they lost, and so will the people smearing antifa today.

Antifa is an authoritarian organisation deeply rooted in Neo-Marxist doctrine.

A question for the Trekmovie-Team: would you consider to do Interviews with the international voice talents of Lower Decks and Prodigy? I would be interested in an interview with Giovanna Winterfeldt, the German voice of Mariner. She seems to be very cool from what I have seen.

That would be cool!

What a nice Idea. A Look at International Star Trek in General would be very nice.

In Germany there is plenty of Star Trek culture. From a tiny Star Trek Museum in Eberswalde, a small east German town, to Big feature Films that parody Star Trek and are Made by some of Germanys most succesfull entertainers (which I personally think are Not funny at all).

In the 90ties Star Trek was HUGE in Germany. There was The Star Trek day on the TV Station SAT 1 on which they showed nearly nothing but Star Trek.

If Worf project will be a comedy, can you imagine these two showing up as Mariner and Boimler!? That’ll be awesome!!!

Can’t wait in 5+ years having their own Galaxy Quest/Orville type of movie!

The fact that Tawny Newsome loves both DS9 and Kira so much has gone waaaaay up in my book (but she was already high up there ;)). Both my favorite show and one of my favorite characters. I love everything about Kira and really hope we she her again in one of these shows!

Can’t wait for season 2! I’m hoping LDS gets seven seasons and a movie!!

Except that Kira was not “antifa” (essentially, a left-wing anarchist); most of DS9 was about her making her peace with the Federation establishment, down to actually donning a Starfleet uniform at the end of the series.

That is true. There is very little about Kira that is like Antifa, other than her fighting fascism.

That’s like saying “There is very little about carnivores that is representative of being Carnivorous, other than eating meat”. Just what the hell do you think antifa means?

Here’s a big ol’ clue upside the head: it has diddly-squat to do with being Catholic, left-handed, or adept at Frisbee golf.

The context in which the term Antifa is being used is what the issue is. The modern vernacular is not “anti-fascism”. Most of the child-of-the-middle-class, funny hat wearing wannabe domestic terrorists the term is currently referring to couldn’t actually pick true fascism out from a history textbook.

Kira was a freedom fighter. Her world was occupied. She wasn’t firebombing police stations to demand a national minimum wage or hashtag-cancelling television shows for their lack of BIPOC representation.

Nobody is firebombing police stations just to demand a national minimum wage increase. A very few people might be firebombing them to protest police brutality, racism, corruption, etc., and they’re few and far between.

And hashtag-cancelling TV shows is frankly fair play even for people who simply don’t like the shows, never mind protesting an issue like lack of BIPOC representation. People do have the right to complain about stuff or criticize it on social media (or elsewhere), after all.

When it comes to choosing a definition of antifa, I’d rather listen to those with whom the term arose and who use it to describe themselves than to whatever the talking heads of the right-wing shriek machine on Fox News try to contort it into.

Agreed

The use of the term is misleading and it is very likely it was chosen because even they know it is misleading. Therefore, given the dishonest nature of those who march under that banner, it is very foolish to listen to them and trust anything they ever say.

And even then, antifa doesn’t even fight fascism. They fight captialism. If she went to Ferenganar and become a terrorist THEN one could compare her to antifa.

It was just showed extremely poor judgement on Tawny’s part. VERY poor.

Cool! Still love that she loves Kira! 😀

“Antifa” by no means necessarily means “anarchist”. Someone who’s antifa certainly *can be* an anarchist, much as a vegetarian can also be a gardener, but it’s hardly required.

Exactly zero effs given? Such irreverence- how refreshing, and how rare.

…As rare as …everyone else? And I’m sure many F’s are given.

Many F’s were indeed given out to that show. And not for “F”unny, that’s for darn sure.

Tawny rocks, but the statement “Kira is basically Antifa” is highly inaccurate.

Its true. KIRA IS ANTIFA

Sad we have to get real Trek from an animated comedy.

St:TNG was always a comedy, now that it doesn’t take itself serious I can actually enjoy it!!!

There’s an animated Star Trek comedy out there? I’d love to see that!

I’m also starting to get a sinking feeling that Boimler may decide service on the Titan is to haaaaard, because it takes him out of his comfort zone, and decide to go back to the Cerritos at the end of the season. This will be lionized in participation trophy fashion. I really hope I’m wrong about this prediction, but it would be consistent with the “zero Fs”/slackerz rule” ethos of the series.

Remember when Star Trek celebrated accomplishment and encouraged kids to become scientists or engineers or pilots?

Huh? Wait, what? What?! Sounds like you haven’t been watching the show at all. The one character who fits what you’ve described is Ensign Fletcher, whose “to (sic) haaaaard” ethic and lack of any actual technical ability were specifically portrayed as bad and undesirable, and he wound up drummed out of Starfleet. The other characters aren’t portrayed as slackers. It’s true the show does devote a whole episode to the idea of “buffer time”, but it does so with a wink and a nod to a classic Trek trope established at least as far back as Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and also with regards to the real-life fact that people simply cannot sustain 100% peak performance all the time with no breaks or breathers. Even with that, none of the characters is really a slacker. Mariner is very much a rulebreaker, to be sure – a maverick, a square peg in a round hole, a smartass, someone who chafes at authority, etc., and one can certainly make a compelling argument that someone like her really shouldn’t be in Starfleet (though the show also takes pains to establish that she stays with it despite these issues and others because she really does believe in the core Starfleet / Federation ideals, and despite her regular breaches of protocol she’s actually at least good at doing her job, solving space mysteries, saving lives, etc.). And absolutely nothing about the others even remotely fits your description. Boimler is a hard-working, driven, ambitious, career-minded Starfleet true believer, the kind of guy who asks the teacher for extra homework and always does the bonus assignment; he’s the guy who has every rule and regulation committed to memory, and who revels in doing as much work as possible. And Tendi and Rutherford are just thrilled at all things spacey and Starfleety. They’re all about SCIENCE! and discovery and Strange New Worlds. They love, and I mean love their jobs. Tendi’s reaction to seeing space out the viewport while at warp? Awe, joy, and wonderment. Her reaction when asked about her first day, after confronting an insanely stressful, literally life-threatening zombie outbreak! “I got to hold a HEART!!” while throwing both arms in the air in exultation, her face a rictus of sheer glee at CRAZY SPACE MYSTERY SCIENCE. And Rutherford? Did you forget that he’s the kind of guy who is so devoted to his job that, when being passionately wooed by the “crazy hot” Ensign Barnes while in the middles of a high-stakes life-or-death survival situation, is more interested in why a red alert overrides maintenance hatch access protocols. The kind of guy who happily not only spends a solid week in the Jefferies tubes realigning EPS conduits, but looks forward to another three or four days in them to recalibrate everything, and even expresses joy at getting blisters on his blisters. The kind of guy who spends even his free time on working on job-adjacent stuff like refurbishing an old broken-down shuttle, tweaking transporters to shave even a minute amount of time off the beaming process, and crafting a holographic tutor to help with learning any Starfleet practice or procedure. If you don’t like the show, that’s totally fine; you can make compelling arguments that it’s not funny or smart or entertaining or whatever. But your characterization of it here – “to haaaaard”, “participation trophy fashion”, “slackerz rule”, “Remember when Star Trek celebrated accomplishment and encouraged kids to become scientists or engineers” (with the implication this show is somehow not only not a particularly over-the-top stement if that ethos to the point of literal caricature, but a departure from that ethos entirely), etc. – is not only wrong, it’s the complete, utter, and exact opposite of right. It’s not just the kind of wrong where you get some technical detail wrong, like if you said James T. Kirk’s middle initial stood for “Thomas”, but the kind of wrong where you fundamentally get the foundational aspects of something wrong, like if you said James T. Kirk never attained the rank of Captain, never set foot aboard the Enterprise, hated everything Starfleet represents and worked to undermine it at all times, and was actually a traitor and Romulan spy. It’s like some sort of bizarro alternate universe, one where Donald Trump is a champion of truth and decency, and the Dumont Network survived to become an unstoppable entertainment industry powerhouse and recently acquired the long-struggling, bankrupt Walt Disney Studios. I’m inclined to assume you’ve never actually seen an episode and are just basing your impressions of the show on common comedic tropes like a group of aimless slackers who don’t really care about their jobs, like the title characters in Clerks. I could see someone who’s never seen the show wondering if that’s what… Read more »

It would be fun if someday the voice actors got to play the characters in live-action on Picard or something.