TrekMovie joined a group press interview with a trio of Star Trek: Picard actors. Evan Evagora (Elnor), Isa Briones (Soji), and Santiago Cabrera (Cristobal Rios) gave the assembled media an update on what’s up with their characters for season two.
Note: The interview contains some minor spoilers and has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Everybody is at a different point where we last saw them at the end of season one. How is it as an actor filling in those blanks going from point A to point B?
Santiago Cabrera: What I love is that the audience also has already got to know these characters more. So it’s a different starting point. They’re more invested in it. They saw a lot of things land differently. There’s more of a feeling of, ‘I know these people.’ And between ourselves as well. So it’s great when the group comes together. And the good thing is, you just have more stories where you can dig in deeper and you’ve got more places to go and you want to find new colors and a new layer and new storyline. I think we’ve definitely found some fun stuff in season two.
What was your first reaction when you read the scripts for season two?
Santiago Cabrera: For me, I felt we hit the ground running. For the same reason as well, because we’re in the world. We know everyone. We don’t need to introduce anyone. So we just went right into it and I love that it. It was just action-packed. And also, I thought the details between how we relate to each other were so much deeper. And also, we all got to explore something new. I can only speak for myself, but there’s a whole new side of Rios that we see. I mean, it’s got a different journey and an arc that will have a payoff in the end. So that was great.
Isa Briones: I think it was, as usual, very surprising reading the first few scripts. I feel that can always be counted on with Star Trek, that it’s always going to be really surprising and kind of come out of nowhere. But kind of what Santiago said in the way that like, it’s really lovely as an actor that we get to continue to explore new facets of our characters with the new characters that come in, with the new plotlines, and with the new bumps in the road that we encounter. We are continuously peeling back the layers of our characters. I think you will definitely see quite a bit of that character development from everyone in this season.
Evan Evagora: For me, it was like “Finally!” We spent a year in lockdown. I was in Australia. I was barely allowed to leave the house. So I spent every day refreshing my email waiting for a script to come through. As soon as it did, it was just nothing but excitement because it was like the gang’s getting back together. I felt that in the first Zoom meeting and I felt that walking back to the studio on our first day and getting to see everyone old and everyone new. Like our bond and this group dynamic growing and strengthening. So it’s been nothing but fun from the get-go. And it’s just gotten better and better every day that passed and every season that we film.
Will we get to see Elnor or the other characters interacting with Q?
Evan Evagora: I don’t know if we’re allowed to say anything about our interactions with Q, because I feel like that’s going to give too much storyline away. But I will say that Q has an impact on every single character in the show. And his influence and the stretch of his power hits us all.
Evan, can you talk about how Elnor ends up in a different place in season two or how he got into his new place in Picard’s world?
Evan Evagora: I’d say the moment Eleanor left Vashti, he was kind of opened up to this world of possibilities that he didn’t know existed before. Now he’s in Starfleet Academy and he’s exploring a new side of him that he didn’t even know he had. He’s learning all these new things. He’s the first-ever Romulan to ever be accepted into Starfleet. Hopefully, he’s not the last. And he’s really breaking down all of those preconceived ideas that people had about Romulans and Romulan culture.
A lot of the second season is set in contemporary Los Angeles. Can you talk about what it was like to play in the real world but as a fish out of water, and what that brought to the show?
Santiago Cabrera: It’s fun because the audience is in on the gag with these characters. You’re not from this place where you have to pretend to be from the place. So that was a lot of fun to play. And then also to be able to shine a light into what is really happening in the world that we live in today, but all through the eyes of these characters that come from a world where there’s much more acceptance and respect for each other. And it’s a much more evolved aspect of humanity and of living beings in general. So it’s kind of they are regressing back and going, ‘I can’t believe this is going on today.’ So it was great in both respects, to shine a mirror into the reality of today and to also just play with that idea of not being of this time.
Santiago, what’s your favorite Rios to play? And have you given the writers pitches on a future Rios we could see?
Santiago Cabrera: Loads of pitches, loads. But I think the main man, Rios, is always the most fun to play… But I enjoyed all of them. It was just great to do these different facets of him. But definitely, Rios is the main focus. So when I go to the writers, it’s mainly about Rios himself, more than the others.
Santiago, you are playing the kind of guy who we know so well from so many shows and movies, the swashbuckling cigar-smoking guy who’s always got the quip. Do you feel like you are representing all of the shows that have come before and are channeling this known and beloved character through many decades of sci-fi?
Santiago Cabrera: I hope things like that come across. But definitely when I built the character, I didn’t sort of go, ‘I need to make sure that every single pilot from a sci-fi shows in Rios.’ But obviously, I had the advantage where I got to play a few other versions of him with the holograms. But, I did want to make sure–because Rios was introduced later in season one–so I did think it was very important where he has to have an impact. These characters are so big and everyone is so larger than life, and the history of Star Trek as well. He needs to live up to that and be his own. We have to find something within that, something unique that sets him apart as well, even though it’s familiar.
Star Trek has a notoriously passionate fan base. What has been your experience with the fans between the two seasons? Does anything stick out?
Isa Briones: Yeah, I’ve definitely had some very meaningful interactions with fans at conventions, and over Instagram. It’s been very touching to see–and I feel this is true for any character because in the very diverse world that we live in, any number of people are going to gravitate towards different characters. And so with me, seeing fellow young women or femme folks that really identify with my character and feel kind of seen in the discovering who they are and figuring out their path, figuring out what their purpose is, and how it’s given them more confidence to see someone like them, and see someone who was going through the same things as them. And also fellow mixed kids, fellow half-Asian kids who are feeling represented in that way… It’s definitely been very touching and reminds you this is a big part of why I do this is to tell these stories and to touch people, and to really make sure that they feel seen in this world.
Isa, your father [Jon Jon Briones] is in this season. What was that like to have your dad on the show?
That was very exciting. We always make a joke in our house that we’re all just trying to get each other jobs. It’s your family, might as well. And it’s actually not the first time I’ve worked with him. I’ve actually played his daughter in American Crime Story, which was really special. But yeah, with this he surprised me. I didn’t know that he was going to be in it. I came over to their house and my dad was like, “Oh, Isa I just booked a new job.” And I was like, “Oh my God, that’s so exciting!” And he’s like, “Yeah, he’s this and he’s…” and he kept on dropping these names and I was like, “These names sound like they are from Picard?” I wasn’t putting it together until the whole family was looking at me like, “It’s Picard!” But it was very exciting… My heart was very full getting to see my dad playing with all my friends.
For Isa, we got to hear you sing at the end of season one, but will we get to ever hear Soji sing?
Isa Briones: Oh, I like that idea. Unfortunately, that will not be the case in this season. But I did very much enjoy getting to sing “Blue Skies” last season. That was such a beautiful full-circle moment, I think, for Soji, for Data, especially for a closing of his character in that way. It was not lost on me how lucky I was that I got to be a part of that legacy.
More Picard interviews
The second season of Star Trek: Picard will arrive on March 3.
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