‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Cast Talks Surprising, Emotional Season 4 Being Made Under Challenging Conditions

The 55-Year Mission Star Trek convention featured four different panels with actors from Star Trek: Discovery. We have already reported that on one of the panels, Kenneth Mitchell revealed he will have a “unique” role in season four. We now offer some more clues we learned—or think we learned—about season four from the other three.

Stamets and Book pushing each other

In his recent interview with TrekMovie, Anthony Rapp (Paul Stamets) talked about having a chance to work more with David Ajala (Book) in season four. Both were on stage at Las Vegas and offered some more detail on these scenes, indicating they may have confrontational scenes together:

Anthony Rapp: One of my great hopes was that I would get to work directly with David Ajala. And I can say that we have some really cool stuff that we get together in season four… When I went to read that script, I was very, very excited just because I think he’s amazing. And then it was just a tremendous honor to spend those days with him in those scenes.

David Ajala: It was so much fun dude, when we were on the scenes. It was literally a two-hander [two-character scene]. I thank you for your generosity, your openness. You’re willing to play and to feel uncomfortable and to explore certain things that you can’t quite explain… We trusted in each other. And I am happy you felt the room to push me, and I felt the room to push you. Hopefully, we will be proud of the work we got to do. Thank you, again.

The end of season three saw Book using his empathic powers to navigate the spore drive, making him the first person who can do it besides Stamets, whose abilities had given him something of a sense of superiority. Perhaps this leads to some tension between the characters.

David Ajala and Blu del Barrio at the 55-Year Mission convention, Las Vegas , August 15 2021 (Photo: TrekMovie.com)

Another computer voice… so another ship?

Julianne Grossman provides the voice of the USS Discovery. Since there are more shows coming, a fan asked if she might follow in the footsteps of Majel Barrett-Roddenberry during the TNG era and become the voice of all the computers across the new shows in the franchise. Grossman loved the idea and revealed she has taken the first step:

From your mouth to god’s ears… I don’t even know if I’m allowed to say this, but I did pick up an additional character. So there is another character of me that has a slightly different voice that’s hovering out there that you’ll hear soon. But I can’t say anything more than that, but gosh I hope [to play all the computers like Majel]. I would love that.

While this “additional character” computer could be on the USS Discovery, it’s also quite possible it could be for another ship. While the season three finale did have Starfleet discovering a new source of dilithium—therefore allowing for warp travel again—building new spore drive-capable ships still seems like something Starfleet might want to do as they’d be able to jump greater distances faster than any warp-capable ship.

Julianne Grossman at the 55-Year Mission convention, Las Vegas, August 13 2021 (Photo: TrekMovie.com)

More Vance in emotional season four… and more in season five?

Oded Fehr is returning in season four as Starfleet Commander-in-Chief Vance. The actor spoke generally and warmly about the upcoming season:

I’m sure the show is going to be just as wonderful and amazing. Season four is incredible and very moving.

When talking about the constraints of production under COVID (more on that later), Fehr offered some hope about more Discovery and more Vance:

Hopefully, it’s going to be much easier next season, if I get to come back next season.

Oded Fehr at the 55-Year Mission convention, Las Vegas , August 13 2021 (Photo: TrekMovie.com)

More T’Rina … and another Saru romance clue

Another actor introduced in season three was Tara Rosling as the Vulcan T’Rina, President of Ni’Var. She talked about her surprise at being back and gave a little hint:

It’s been an utter gift to return. I had no idea that T’Rina’s storyline would continue. And there’s been all kinds of lovely things to play as a president and in other areas. And I will leave it at that.

The “other areas” could likely be related to hints from Doug Jones that there is a budding romance between T’Rina and Saru.

Tara Rosling at the 55-Year Mission convention, Las Vegas , August 11 2021 (Photo: TrekMovie.com)s

Linus actor says to expect the unexpected

David Benjamin Tomlinson has delighted fans as Linus the Saurian, and he is back in season four, which he described in one word:

If I was going to talk about season four, I would say this: unexpected. I would say “unexpected” in so many, a myriad of ways.

David Benjamin Tomlinson at the 55-Year Mission convention, Las Vegas, August 11 2021 (Photo: TrekMovie.com)

Exploring Rhys and the bridge crew

The regular bridge crew is back in season four, which includes Patrick Kwok-Choon as Tactical Officer Rhys. The actor was careful about what he could say about the upcoming season, but did offer something:

I can’t say much… You’ll see more of the bridge crew in season four.

In response to a fan question about the development of actors of color through Trek history, Kwok-Choon indicated that there could be more exploration of Rhys in season four:

With the producers and the writers, they’ve always been open to conversations about the character, and where we want to take it… As you see on Discovery, they embrace everyone on the show… And they’re doing more for not only for the LGBTQ community, but for… I’m going to leave it at that because I don’t want to spoil too much for season four.

Patrick Kwok-Choon at the 55-Year Mission convention, Las Vegas, August 11 2021 (Photo: TrekMovie.com)

AR wall is a game-changer

A big new thing for season four is the production is now using a state-of-the-art AR Wall. The technology replaces greenscreens and allows the actors to perform in virtual sets. Patrick Kwok-Choon talked about how this new tech is impacting the upcoming season:

For season four, I will say the AR wall is amazing. It’s the future. It’s game-changing. The stuff they were able to create I will say AR wall is amazing. It’s the future. It’s game-changing, and the stuff that they were meant to be able to create. I have… there’s things… I am not going to say.

The AR wall in use during filming of Season 4 (photo from American Cinematographer Magazine)

COVID is slowing things down, putting a strain on cast and crew

Season four of Discovery began production last November and it started winding down in recent weeks, but work has continued for some on the show. In fact, after appearing on a panel on Wednesday, Tara Rosling was recalled to Toronto for additional shooting. However, during her panel, Rosling explained how production under COVID protocols was the primary reason for the extended shooting schedule:

It’s been very, very long. Everything is slowed down. The entire cast and crew are tested three times a week. And we all have to stay on our levels. And when you’re on set, things go very slowly because touches can only come in waves. What I mean by that is makeup, wardrobe, hair, each have to take their turns… It’s also been slowed down because there are false positives along the way and things that happen and so production shuts down for a couple of days and then it has to restart.

Oded Fehr talked about the toll this all takes on the cast and crew:

I won’t lie to you guys, it’s been really, really tough, especially on a show where you couldn’t wait to go to work in the morning… When I work I hate going back to my trailer… I just stay on set all day long. And not being able to do that anymore, having to quarantine to just get into Toronto for two weeks. And then the show got pushed back and pushed back. And we’ve had a whole bunch of stuff that happened this year that’s beside the show, that affected the show… Everybody’s still very happy to be working. But we were separated by the sheer rules of the pandemic which made it a much more lonely experience.

Mary Wiseman spoke about how the cast was really happy to get together after quarantine:

The transition from spending so much time inside alone to getting to be around these people again, was like this kind of like, really crazy, uncontrollable ecstasy. Like I remember, like, we all felt like golden retrievers… “Hi, hi, hi…”

Mary Wiseman at the 55-Year Mission convention, Las Vegas, August 15 2021 (Photo: TrekMovie.com)

But Blu del Barrio revealed that their enthusiasm was constrained by the protocols:

Our crew told us to stop talking so much. Our masks are off when we film and they were like, “Hey can you guys not laugh all the time?” Literally, we got complaints.

David Benjamin Tomlinson had a lot of good things to say about the Discovery production crew:

I think when I look back — when I watch season four and when I think about it, I will be reminded of the remarkable perseverance of the crew on the show who lifted this season up and made it possible. The cast was amazing. So many people did push through so many extraordinary limitations to make some magic happen…  I found that incredibly moving that this is could still happen in the delightful, fun tone that it did to shoot it. Every show thinks their crew is the best, but our crew is the best.

Patrick Kwok-Choon summed things up with this:

It was a difficult year for everyone. But, as everyone said, it was a lovely experience. And we just felt incredibly safe.

Anthony Rapp at the 55-Year Mission convention, Las Vegas, August 15 2021 (Photo: TrekMovie.com)

More from Vegas

The convention wrapped up on Sunday, but there is much more to cover. So stay tuned to TrekMovie for more news from the Star Trek convention, including updates on Star Trek: Picard, the Voyager documentary, and more. And don’t forget to  check out the coverage we have already posted.

Find more news and analysis for Star Trek: Discovery.

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Is that lead photo of Mark Ruffalo or Oded Fehr? I can’t tell with the mask.

It’s a photo of what Ted Cruz thinks he looks like.

My favorite part of Discovery is Saru, and my favorite part of Star Trek is Vulcans, so if we get a Saru/T’Rina relationship, I will be thrilled!

I’m really looking forward to next season, although it’s probably the show I’m looking forward to the least, for now. But I don’t mean that in a bad way. The other shows from LDS to SNW is just more on my radar personally. But hopefully we will get another trailer soon and will increase my interest.

But I’m also very happy all the new characters we were introduced to in season 3 will be back in season 4. I knew Vance was coming back, that guy is just too cool not to lol. But happy to hear the Vulcan President will be back as well. And we knew long ago both Book and Kovich would be back. I just love that they are building on the 32nd century and having all the characters we were introduced back is a great sign they will be doing that. And they all seem very popular with the fanbase. Hell I’m hoping we see Sahil again (the guy in the first episode manning the old Federation station and helped Burnham). That guy was so cool lol.

Just by chance, I stumbled on an article a few weeks ago about why going too far into the future in Star Trek is ‘bad’ and one of the arguments from posters was that the people in the future would be too ‘unrelatable’ to us now. And they were talking about going into the 25th century lol. I just find it funny now because here we are 800 years passed the 24th century and the irony is the 32nd century characters are no less relatable than the others and in some ways more relatable like with Book and Adira.

End of the day they are just fictional TV shows people, not quasi documentaries about possible life and culture about the future.

Gene Roddenberry did set out, in the original bible, that the show was set somewhere between 100 and 1,000 years in the future. Too close to our time and you get characters who aren’t used to their surroundings (so the whole show becomes “Wow, look at that!”) and too far in the future and we can’t relate to them. (It was a while before they set exactly what year the show was set in.)

But I’d say that 1,100 years from now is still on this side of relatable. And it’s also a matter of writing- Star Wars is a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away and yet the characters are still relatable. Same goes for works like Dune or Foundation that are set tens of thousands of years from now.

I’m actually reading Foundation now and at the end of the second book. It’s hard to believe that is suppose to be set 50,000 years into the future, but everyone in the books talks like they could be living on Earth today. But it’s a story, you still have to make them feel familiar, especially if they are still human.

But I also agree, I don’t think TOS was ever given any real time frame. That’s probably why they came up with the stardate system, so they could do everything they could to keep the time setting vague. It could’ve been the 22nd century, it could’ve been the 26th century. And that’s the funny thing, if they said it took place in the 26th century at the beginning of TWOK, no one would’ve blinked either, because it’s all arbitrary. The ‘when’ never mattered because the show wasn’t trying to portray any particular century, simply what a vague notion ‘the future’ could be like at some point. That’s what oddly gets missed with these debates.

Now of course it’s very different. Star Trek dates today are highly measured and followed. We literally know the date of when first contact with Vulcan will happen to the point we now celebrate it like a holiday. But it doesn’t matter because it’s still just fiction and 23rd, 24th, 27th, 32nd and beyond are whatever the writers think humans will be like. Frankly I liked humans in every century of Trek from the 22nd to the 32nd. Probably why I like all the shows. ;)

I think there were vague references in TOS, especially in Space Seed, that they were about two centuries or so in the future. As late at TVH there were still different numbering systems- I think the “Starfleet” system had them in the early 2200’s- until it was definitively set, in the TNG late 1st season episode The Neutral Zone, that TOS had been *exactly* 300 years in the future.

But I’m with you on all of that. :-)

Yeah true, there are certainly a few instances that give way the show actually took place in the 22nd century at the time. I even wrote a post about that a few months ago here since I rewatched the entire show a few months ago. However I do think it’s mostly just isolated instances from different writers and none of it was consistent. I think with Space Seed, they just wanted to give some kind of answer of how much time Khan and his crew were sleep to know he was truly out of his time and element. And probably came with the 200 years line because anything too long would’ve felt ridiculous. And yeah that was all retcon by TWOK anyway.

It is amazing today with just how concise they are with dating everything (most of the time). In the first episode of Discovery, Burnham actually cites the date, May 11th, 2256 and even said the day, Sunday. They would’ve never did that with TOS or the 24th century shows. And I checked, that date will actually land on a Sunday!

“building new spore drive capable ships still seems like something Starfleet might want to do as they can still jump greater distances faster than any warp-capable ship.”

And THAT holds huge potential for another spin-off finally exploring other GALAXIES :-)

I’m not against emotions, I’m not Vulcan, but Discovery had so much of Burnham crying, I think no other character in Trek history cried so much as she ;)

This asinine complaint is just people looking for things to moan about. No one used to complain about Kira’s crying and when she cried, she CRIED (“Battle Lines”).

I had to look up to confirm that Jenette Goldstein (Aliens, Terminator 2) was the Enterprise computer voice for a bit, on Short Treks. Did Grossman really do the Enterprise as well? Who will do it for SNW?

I just want to know how he got the name “Rhys”. :-)

I would love to see Ash Tyler in the fourth series Star Trek Discovery. Ideally to upset the apple cart for Michael Burnham. She’s become too comfortable with Booker. Speaking outside the box the dynamic of Asian man and Black women is not something u see a lot of as I understand it we’re speaking about diversity. This does not just mean gender but also ethnicity.

Hope to see more changes.