Another highlight of Star Trek: Mission Chicago was the panel for Star Trek: Picard featuring Michelle Hurd (Raffi), Annie Wersching (Borg Queen), Isa Briones (Soji/Kore), and Evan Evagora (Elnor). TrekMovie was there to capture the highlights.
Hurd on Raffi/Seven
Michelle Hurd talked about she was happy to join the Star Trek family and be able to work with the producers to craft the character of Raffi to be complex. She said this started from the beginning:
After I got the job I was talking to [season one showrunner Michael Chabon] about Raffi… I wanted to get into who is this person? What I loved is he said, “No Michelle, you told me who Raffi is.”… So what I love about the whole world of Star Trek is that they cast this diverse group of people because they want to hear those stories of diversity.
The actress later talked about how Star Trek can be impactful and how she was proud to bring in the Seven/Raffi relationship into season two:
The fact that we are given the gift of being given a platform where we can actually tell stories and make changes in the world. I was so happy to be given that precious responsibility of telling those stories. One of the reasons is that Raffi isn’t perfect, she has rocky days and she has addictions and she stumbles and she gets herself back up. And every day is a challenge but she’s gonna see that sun rise out of the darkness. And I love having a story between Raffi and Seven, particularly because they are two mature women who have been living life and were stubborn and tripping and were determined and were vulnerable and are full of love. But it’s hard sometimes, of course, to express that. We have been receiving so much positivity, so much love and so much support.
Wersching making her own Queen
Annie Wersching was relishing her role as the new Borg Queen, wearing a green crown and a classic Borg Queen tee. She explained how she started by studying past Queens, but then focused on crafting her Queen to match the show:
I watched First Contact and then anything that had the Borg in it, I watched all of them, so everything that Alice [Krige] and everything that Susanna [Thompson] did. But also, I didn’t go back and watch those things twice. One I absorbed it and had it in the back I then did my thing I from there forward. I think it helps to find my particular Borg Queen in a different kind of state that you don’t ever see the other Queens in. She starts in distress. That may have been easier that I wasn’t starting in the exact situation that they had. I kind of gradually move into the Queen that was similar-ish to their Queens. And also the writing and the story drives how you do things. And then you put on the makeup and the costume and you don’t have to do too much.
Later when talking about challenging parts of production, Wersching said the hardest thing was figuring out how to “crawl to make it look like you don’t have any legs, but I actually have legs.”
Isa on Patrick Stewart’s commitment to the fans
Isa Briones talked about how she was surprised to find Sir Patrick Stewart at her first audition for the role:
I walked into that audition and I knew he was going to be in there, but it’s almost like I forgot. You know how you are about to meet your icon and you think, ‘Oh, they’re never going to look exactly how they do on screen.’ I walked and I was like, “You look like Patrick Stewart.” He just never aged, he has looked the same forever, I assume since he was a baby. I can’t imagine him with hair. I was so starstruck.
She went on to describe how this audition demonstrated Stewart’s commitment to the show:
So we just started doing a scene and it was so amazing. He was not just reading the lines, he was completely in it with me. I assumed he was just coming in as a formality, but no, he wanted to get to know the people that were going to be joining him because he really cared about the story and wanted to make sure that it was the right crew and the right family to tell the story. Because he knew that he and we all owe it to the fans. They deserve a beautiful resurgence of Jean-Luc Picard and the final chapter.
A little bit of Worf in Elnor
Evan Evagor talked about how he learned everything he could about Romulans but ended up being influenced by a Klingon:
They sent over episodes to watch and mine were all with Romulans, even though my character is different from other Romulans… And has anyone here read Michael Chabon’s essay about Romulans? It’s definitely worth a read. It goes in depth about the culture and a plethora of knowledge. I know for myself, it was kind of having to unlearn everything I knew about Romulans. The person I most related to was Worf, because Klingons were the enemy and he showed a different side. And that speaks to me because my character was doing the same.
Everybody Loves Jonathan
One thing the entire cast shares is a love for Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Jonathan Frakes, who has directed four episodes of the series. Three of the panelists talked about what Frakes brings to the show…
Michelle: I think he’s probably everybody’s favorite director… First of all, he exudes love when he’s on-screen, right? There’s something like a sparkle in his eye. One of the most unique things about him as a director is that it bridges the gap from producers to crew and cast, and all in one. Every single person loves him.
Evan: He knows Trek inside out because he has directed so many series. And he’s very easy to hear on set because he is so loud. Action! Everyone can hear it. He did my debut episode and he made me feel so comfortable and so accepted. He pulled me into the office to talk for like two hours telling me a little bit about himself and his journey through Trek and I remember him telling me: “It is going to change your life.” I didn’t really understand what he meant until the show debuted. And it is true. It has changed my life, for the better!
Isa: The first time I ever worked with him I was really nervous… It was one of my first bigger jobs and we were filming the scene where Soji and Narek are sliding through that little airway in the Borg cube and were getting to the technical part we had to be placed so perfectly. And he was like, “I’m so sorry. I know this sucks to get in the way of the acting and you have to be right in the right place.” And then we kept trying it and finally we did this last take perfectly, and I just hear from so far away from where he’s sitting at video village, he goes: “BRILLIANT!” That’s basically everything about him, right there. There is so much love and such great energy to make sure that you are on the ride with him… And I just love seeing him give so much shit to Patrick.
More to come from Chicago
There is still more coverage from the convention, including reports from other Star Trek Universe panels. Stay tuned to TrekMovie in the coming days for more Star Trek: Mission Chicago.
Find more Picard news and reviews.
I think Annie Wersching’s Borg Queen is just amazing. She is really the best part of the season for me. I was excited when I heard the Queen would be brought back but after hearing what the season was actually about I wondered how they would incorporate her in it. They did a good job with it. I can’t wait to see what her end game is for this season (yeah, I went there!).
And Frakes IS Star Trek! That’s why this guy is so loved by both the production and fandom. Can’t wait to see him as Riker again in Lower Decks and Picard!!
Yeah Frakes seems to have that natural Riker charisma that he brings to his real life director’s world. The Discovery cast seems to have that same affinity to him and I am sure that the same will happen for the cast of SNW!
As for the Borg Queen, once I got over over my initial disdain for her storyline, I too have been more impressed by Wersching’s portrayal.
Glad to see Evagora getting onto the convention circuit. I assume we have not heard the last from Elnor!
About Frakes: During season 1 of TNG I hated Riker. He seemed pompous, arrogant, and flat. I thought he was supposed to be a poor Kirk imitation.
Then, as Frakes has said in interviews, he was allowed to bring more of himself to the role, including keeping his beard. From that point on, my appreciation of the Riker character just grew and grew. I grew to love the character. I think I recall my bro telling me he had Frakes in for some ADR work on one of his TV films or series (probably The Librarian or Leverage) and that he was just a really really nice and fun guy. That’s channeled into his Riker character. The man is also humble. He said he thought Stewart and Spiner were great actors and that he really loved the original Kirk-Spock-McCoy dynamic of TOS, but that TNG never really had that although he wanted it. He said something to the effect that he was ok as Riker. I think that’s an understatement. And, as everyone knows, he knocked it out of the park as a director with First Contact and did a good job with Insurrection (despite its weak story imo). And the guy is gracious too. When Nimoy died, Frakes tweeted a salutation to “the best first officer.”
I’m rewatching TNG with my kids (we just started season 5), and I’m finding myself enjoying the TNG cast more and more. I really can’t imagine the show with out Frakes’ Riker. He really was Picard’s strong right arm.
You just gotta love the guy.
Am I the only one upset that they didn’t elaborate on the shit Frakes gives to Stewart. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for Number One giving lip to his captain lol!
Quite frankly, this article was so inspirational because I fall in love with Star Trek and I can say that it is a really unique project where the actors are perfectly matched. I can say that the Raffi character is difficult and it is so wonderful that her personality was revealed in such an interesting way. For me, the words of Michelle Hurd about her character are perfectly suitable for Raffi because they completely reflect her personality and they prove that she is truly strong inside. In my opinion, it is really important for any actor to feel his character in full measure and try to analyze him in order to research a role, as Michelle did. Also, it is so wonderful that the whole cast shares the love for Jonathan Frakes because it is so important to have such good relationships with the director and it is so valuable when he inspires you to a huge extent. You can feed off from his energy of love and believe in yourself more.