Interview: Anson Mount On Pike’s Command Style And The Politics Of ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’

TrekMovie joined a group press interview with the star of the upcoming series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Anson Mount shared his thoughts on what kind of show the new series will be and hinted at what is in store for his Captain Christopher Pike.

Note: The interview contains some minor spoilers and has been edited for brevity and clarity. 

What has been the most exciting thing for you in getting to bring Pike to life in this new way?

Several things. On the level of the show, what we wanted to do was reinvigorate that sense of excitement that people got with The Original Series, even to just turn on the TV. Because it wasn’t just about where would the Enterprise end up? It was, where will the Enterprise begin? What new planet are we going to be on? That’s why it’s called Strange New Worlds. And for me, as the guy playing Pike, I wanted to really delve further in. We got to see him lead a crew that was not his own on Discovery. And now we get to see him lead his own crew. And I really wanted to flesh out that tremendous sense of empathy I think he has, which is it goes hand in hand with humility. I think that’s partly what makes him such a good leader and Captain.

How would you describe Pike’s command style with his own crew?

I knew very few things. But I did know that every time a crew member walks through the doors of his office, the most important thing in the room is not Pike. It’s not even necessarily the question. It’s the crew member. He has to care about them above and beyond his own sense of self. That’s why his existential crisis [over learning his fate] at the beginning of the series is not his own fear of death. It’s ‘Can I continue to serve as a captain when I’m dealing with this? Am I going to be able to be responsible for hundreds of people who serve under me dealing with this crisis?’ And how do we as people telling the story, not ignore that, but find a way through that? And that leads into further development of character.

Anson Mount in Strange New Worlds

As a fan of The Original Series, you know that the show was rife with allegories and it wasn’t afraid of politics. Do you feel that Strange New Worlds is more or less like that, and does it have a point of view on contemporary issues?

I don’t think it’s our job to have a point of view. I think it’s our job to raise questions. I think a TV show at its best can serve as a metaphorical platform to discuss other stuff that’s going on right now. And you don’t have a discussion if you’re preaching. There’s no way to have a discussion if you’re preaching. The best thing that we can do is to raise questions, look at things in a new facet, shedding a different light on it. And then, entrusting that we’ve done enough work to make it as shiny and interesting an object as possible. And trust that sense of curiosity that leads us to the stars is in our audience and will want to think more about these things.

You had to take up the role others have played before, like Jeffrey Hunter who played Pike in the first pilot. What was it like taking up the mantle of the first recorded Star Trek captain?

While having a tremendous sense of responsibility of that role, I think a lot of people have thought that my greatest challenge is to live up to what has already been laid down. When in reality, if you think about it, not a whole lot was laid down. There’s not a lot of material. And that was a different Pike in a different time of his life. That was a much younger, much more existentially in crisis young captain. And this is second-act Pike. I just follow the writers’ cue. The writers wanted to bring in somebody who’s a little bit more sure in his boots, and deep into his experience. And so I really just followed what they were laying down in the proverbial trail of breadcrumbs. And I continue to follow their cue, even now.

Anson Mount in Strange New Worlds

Can you talk about how the wonderful sense of the crew and team on screen has manifested with team-building behind the scenes with the cast?

I’m blessed with a cast full of professional adults with a shared great sense of humor. The greatest joy for me in going to work is getting to hang out with them. It’s hard to express how much fun we have doing the show. In terms of team-building, it’s a very real thing that needs to be paid attention to, especially when shooting in the time of COVID. And I have to say that Rebecca [Romijn] has been the real leader in that regard. She has gone far away beyond the expectations of a cast member and a leader to make sure that everybody is well and comfortable and having a good time. She’s a marvelous hostess. She makes a mean mixed drink. We have a lot of fun together. And her entire family with Jerry [O’ Connell], her husband, has become close with us as well, as has had her two daughters. And so I’ve just been trying to keep up with her.

You have been involved with Star Trek for a while now. What is the most striking thing that has happened with your interactions with the fandom during your time with the franchise?

I have to lead with the most obvious answer which was to see this fan movement to want to make the show happen. It’s changed my life. It goes beyond just another job albeit at a very particularly bad time for actors. But my inclusion in this universe has fleshed out my love of Trek. It’s brought me into the family and culture of Trek, not just the fandom of Trek. It has given me the wherewithal to entrust my ability to have a family. It’s given me a lot and I’m very grateful for it. I think also meeting members of NASA and seeing how the show has inspired so many people. Meeting legacy actors like Nichelle Nichols, Bill [Shatner], and…

I don’t know, man. I struggle with words to get across to people how completely fucking weird this is, that I am the captain of the Enterprise. Like, can you imagine? It’s bizarre. There are only so many times you can say, ‘Why me?’ And then you just have to shrug your shoulders and go ‘Okay, I guess it is me.’ But it doesn’t stop being surreal. And I hope that feeling continues throughout the entire thing because it comes with a tremendous sense of not just luck, but responsibility.

More to come before May 5

TrekMovie will have interviews with more of the Strange New Worlds cast including Ethan Peck, and others in the coming days, so stay tuned. Check out our earlier interview with Rebecca Romijn.

The first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will arrive on May 5.

Strange New Worlds poster

Find more stories on the Star Trek Universe.

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I am very excited about this show for so many reasons but the obvious one being it will be about exploration again in the truest way when we think about Star Trek. It’s certainly what is missing in the new live action shows and the trailer looks like it will be doing a lot of it.

Also can’t wait for more trippy Star Trek too! I thought we were going to get a lot of that in Picard this season but not really the case. SNW seems like it will be doing a lot of fun crazy stuff that the old shows did a lot, especially TOS and Voyager. So can’t wait!

Same here. After the disappointments that Discovery 4 and Picard 2 unfortunately turned out to be (and I say that as someone who had high hopes for both), I want to be able to get excited for live-action Trek again. I love Prodigy and Lower Decks, and thought Discovery 1-2 and Picard 1 were a lot of fun. Hopefully, SNW will be more to my liking than the current seasons.

My sentiments exactly, sister. Discover 1 and 2 and Picard 1. While not perfect, they gave the mind something to chew on. They were good science fiction, not bad soap opera.

I’m glad we agree! I’m a guy, by the way. My screen-name is a reference to my favorite cookies (Lorna Doones) and my favorite novel (Dune). :)

Oh, OK. : )

I’ve said enough about how disappointed I been with Discovery and Picard so won’t repeat it here, but it would be great if SNW just feels more like classic Star Trek again. Even if the season is not amazing, I will settle for at least competent at the point. But so far it looks like the type of stories I think most fans have really missed, at least in the live action arena.

But yes, if nothing else I love Lower Decks and Prodigy too and I expect those to keep being great!

“Also can’t wait for more trippy Star Trek too! I thought we were going to get a lot of that in Picard this season but not really the case. SNW seems like it will be doing a lot of fun crazy stuff that the old shows did a lot, especially TOS and Voyager. So can’t wait!”

Maybe they can get a self-promoting lawyer to wear a shower curtain and pretend to be an actor, like Melvin Belli in “And the Children Shall Lead.”

I watched that episode again for the first time in maybe 20 years last year and it was excruciating lol. Had no idea about that actor until now. Interesting.

Back when TREK was first in syndication, I used to make up a list every year ranking the eps top to bottom (what is study hall for if not such matters?) I did develop a very funny version of Shatner’s “I’m losing command … I’ve LOST command” where I took it right up into a falsetto, like he was being castrated. Only other good bit was Sulu seeing the swords coming at him on the viewscreen, but the TV was so small it took years for me to recognize them as swords.

LEAD was nearly always 76, 77 or 78 (there was no 79, because for some reason, even though I must have seen ARENA 50 times by the late 70s, I never managed to see THE EMPATH till 1978 — at which point it pushed damned near everything down a notch, because I’ve always had it in my top 10, for the KSM stuff, plus that wonderful last music cue as they head out of orbit.

I wonder if they’ll get some wonderful old actor (or brilliant aging liberal reallife attorney) to play Sam Cogley … would be nice to see them get into some space law, which got scant play on TOS and not much more later on, outside of MEASURE OF A MAN. I remember that the main creative force from THE PAPER CHASE series really wanted to do a TNG, but he fell afoul of TNG s1 so nothing came of it.

The whole thing about really doing cowboy diplomacy in space that makes it work is when you put it in context, so law is a good angle to hit on occasion.

That was a much younger, much more existentially in crisis young captain

It really isn’t, though. This show is just a few years after “The Cage.”

Yesterday you said here: “People spend too much time worrying about what is and isn’t canon. It’s so weird. Canon is stupid and meaningless.”

But now, less than 24 hours later, you are counting years between shows as defined in a character’s/series’ canon history to refute something an actor said ???

So which is it? I mean, make up you mind…lol :-)

I said nothing above about anything being canon or non-canon. I was clearly commenting on the fact that a person isn’t “much younger” after only a few years. So your reply to me is moot… and it’s kind of weird and stalkerish that you would be counting the number of hours between my posts. Creepy.

So instead of just saying, “yeah, in retrospect I overstated that as we obviously have to have canon for the timeline,” you insult me by calling me a stalker? How quaint…lol

How about we just focus on Star Trek canon, which you said, “was stupid an meaningless” one day, and then the next day referenced the canon timeline to refute an actor’s remark? I would like to hear you explain that further — just trying to have a simple Star Trek discussion here.

No, you’re not. You’re being stalkerish and purposely misconstruing what I said for the sake of picking an argument, which I refuse to have since you’re a total stranger I’ve never heard of. It’s creepy. Do us both (and everyone else) a favor and troll someone else.

You’re really reaching here. Nobody is stalking you. God forbid someone should happen to remember reading a discussion online from YESTERDAY. I remember about what time I did just about everything yesterday, down to every person I spoke with. By your logic, I’m also stalking them because I happen to have a functioning memory?

I’ve noticed your habit of recoiling strongly every time you’re called out for some of your inconsistencies. How about instead of juvenile and bizarre accusations, you just take a minute to explain yourself and move on? Or just ignore it?

Just for the record, you seem like a colossal hypocrite constantly and seem to piss up an argument over seemingly anything. People are just trying to talk to you. Maybe just try talking back?

To paraphrase Dr. Jones, “It’s not the years, it’s the lightyears.”

If you’re quoting from a GL franchise, it should probably read: t’s not the years, it’s the parsecs.

Daaah actually, I was quoting Dr. Herman L. Jones, a local pediatrist.

Did completing the Kessel Run hurt your feet? ;-)

This is from the Early Voyages comic series. I can see Spock saying this since he has dealt with both Kirk and Picard:

Space, the final frontier. Before James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard, there was Christopher Pike. These were the voyages of the starship Enterprise. It’s five-year mission – to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before.

Early Voyages was awesome. I just wish we’d gotten a proper ending to that run instead of the abrupt cutoff mid-story.

I love this guy. He gets it.

Yes, he does!

Anson’s really emerged as one of my favorite actors in the franchise. Regardless of Strange New Worlds’ quality of writing – here’s hoping it’s good, of course! – the man himself will be well worth watching in this role.

Absolutely. He’s fantastic as Pike and I look forward to seeing more of him.

He’s an asset to Star Trek, as are Romijn and Peck.

“He’s an asset to Star Trek, as are Romijn and Peck.”

He is Para-Mount+.

Better that than Anson Williams.

To date, he’s the only asset I’ve seen. Not sure how to read Romijn (though I thought she crackled in the first X-MEN — was that her voice or was she dubbed?), while Peck just strikes me as Eric Forman playing dress-up for early cosplay.

I love his interpretation of the character and have very high hopes for the show. But what the heck did they do to his hair?

Usually guys sweep their hair up like that in order to make their face look slimmer. Mount doesn’t need to do that.

His hair looks great. I’d kill for that hair!

(Not literally.)

Unless it’s his subtle salute to the “Shatner look”. You know, lots of hair (in this case real) piled up on an older head.

I thought it was some hairdresser’s weird take on modernizing a flattop. It bother me a whole lot, here’s hoping they do closeups that have forehead as top of frame (what I think of as DIE HARD 2 closeups, probably to distract away from Willis hairline.)

I’m just jealous he has so much of it!

I can’t wait for the episode where inertial dampers or environmental systems fail and the scene where any number of the cast have a moment in their quarters – and all their hair/makeup products are exploded against a bulkhead or the vanity or something in the BG. Not to discuss, mind you, just in the background of the shot! : )

That is worth the price of admission and would differentiate from TOS.

But, then, l also hope to see an episode where the non-bridge stations crew were cleaning up after a major systems failure such as that – not as the focus of the scene/sequence – just business during the scene… not Gerrold-style business in the script where attention is brought to the business, just super-smart/clever set dress/direction/camera.

Maybe Wesley Crusher would have been more relatable if his mom gave him more chores around the quarters – like cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming or making the bed. But that would mean people in the future had to clean and relieve themselves… I don’t think that fit TNG vision.

Fingers crossed…

If they can beam clothing onto people in the 23rd Century (going by TMP, even if you don’t hear the proper sound), you’d figure they could beam the poop out of people by the 24th.

Glad to see Mr Mount is continuing the tradition of intelligent articulate actors commanding the Starship Enterprise! I wish him godspeed!

I still seize on Mulgrew’s first interview, in which she came across as insightful and possibly even brilliant. Pity her character never came off half as well in the shows I got through or half-got through.

Well said!

Mount impresses the heck out of me. He’s perfect for the role and for the franchise. Can’t wait to see him in action again.

And you don’t have a discussion if you’re preaching. There’s no way to have a discussion if you’re preaching.

I so want to take this at face value. Although TBH I don’t find Discovery to be especially preachy.

As do I. I don’t find Discovery preachy (although I stopped watching halfway through S3), but I do find it lacks depth and intelligence. The only real discussion Discovery generates is disagreements over its quality.

Oh sure, Disco has all kinds of quality issues. But it’s not especially political.

Have you seen they actually cast a politician as Earth President, lol?

I heard about it but I haven’t seen the current season.

Except TOS was ABSOLUTELY super preachy?

Citation needed.

On occasion, but usually when it counted. The bit about ‘real war being a messy business … a very messy business’ is on the nose, but hey, if you’re talking about planetary armageddon, maybe you should hit it that hard (always though THE DAY AFTER didn’t push hard enough.)

A lot of the preachy in TREK is vested in Kirk’s way of dealing with things (or tailored to Shatner’s strengths as Kirk by the writers.) When I was a kid, I used to laugh out loud at the ‘risk is our business’ speech, but by the time I was in my late 20s I was thinking it was as right as anything the character ever uttered (except maybe, ‘go to your quarters or I’ll pick you up and carry you there,’ which is uttered with low deadly assurance and is about as perfectly on key as imaginable.) Some might call his challenge to Mirror Spock as corny or preachy, but to me it is well-nigh perfect (plus the way the show was scored, with bold strokes, is in keeping with the wordage and delivery.)

Would somebody deride DS9 as super-preachy just because Brooks’ Bennie gets a little oratorical (and when it is absolutely justified)?

Right, he pontificates on human nature and war in A Taste of Armageddon. And maybe a bit in in others, like espousing American exceptionalism (or maybe just throwing props to the Bill of Rights?) in The Omega Glory. But it wasn’t really all that common.

Shatner’s portrayal of Kirk made him “speechy,” but that’s not the same as preachy. And just pointing out things that made sense, or explaining your thought process, isn’t really what most people think of as preachy. Preachy is… well, think of a church, with a preacher, telling a congregation what they want to hear and what they’ve probably heard many times before, with a certain amount of authority. When a character in a story pontificates on a topic that the audience likely already agrees with, with a certain amount of authority to make themself (the character) feel or seem powerful, usually at the expense of a strawman target that isn’t allowed to defend itself or be presented in the form of a sensible counterpoint. That’s preachy, as far as I’m concerned, and I haven’t seen much of it in Trek over the years.

Good clarification, Chris. Except for funerals and a wedding, I haven’t set foot in a church in at least 46 years, but what you wote about the authority combining with famliar sentiments made it all flash back for me with a vengeance.

Even the much-derided ‘just say no to drugs’ speech Tasha has in SYMBIOSIS never struck me as being overtly terrible, probably because Crosby’s delivery really does strike a balance, acknowledging how drugs can make you feel wonderful before proceeding to the inevitable conclusion. I’m not saying it has a thousandths of the the yin/yang power of FIRE WALK WITH ME’s depiction of drug use and consequence, but considering it was TNG s1, it was okay. Plus (and this is coming from somebody who has almost never been a fan of Stewart’s Picard), the Captain’s disgust when addressing a request for course instructions at the end is just absolutely perfect.

This reminds me that probably one of the preachier episodes was Who Watches the Watchers? from TNG. I love that episode and agree 100% with Picard’s point of view, but even back as a youngster watching it I kinda cringed. It does nothing for me to spoon-feed me a value system that’s already part of my diet, and it will only alienate someone with a strongly-held opposing view. Maybe that kind of stuff sways moderates? I dunno, but I doubt it. I especially doubt that’s the intended purpose.

I mean I can hang out with like-minded friends and laugh at the backward-thinking ways of People Who Aren’t Like Us, because we’re blowing off steam and having a laugh. If I wanted to use the power of words to effect change in the world, I don’t think that same approach would work. Politics works when it’s unifying, even if it unifies us all in agreeing that there’s no perfect solution. It’s worse than useless when it’s divisive.

Anyway, enough preaching on my part…

I was always surprised by the strength of positive response to WATCHERS, as I figured the other side was going to jump all over it (the Supreme Court will probably get it banned in Texas eventually — it wouldn’t be the first time TREK shows were banned there, it happened back in the 70s too, and without a court order.)

It’s hard for me to critique TNG s3, because it’s the only season of the show that I really enjoyed (probably because they didn’t have time to rewrite everything to death like in previous years, and because there were some good scores that squeaked past the gatekeepers, like TIN MAN, which is practically TOS-like at times. I thought SAREK was a dud and a half, and the season opener was pretty weak (enough that I gave up on the show at that point for a few months, which was bad timing since the writer submission policy had changed and I didn’t know it yet), and the one with the girl from ELM ST III and IV, along with the RASHOMON one, weren’t anything to write home about, but I really liked the rom defector one (lots of Diane Duane MY ENEMY MY ALLY DNA in that one, Mr. Moore) and some of the other ones where they at least tried to do some action.

I love the way this role is a dream come true for him. Here’s hoping the show will be a dream come true for us! It looks very promising so far…

Strange New Worlds is the show I’ve been most looking forward to. So far, I’ve enjoyed all five new shows that have aired during the CBSAA era, though my favorites have been Short Treks and Lower Decks. SNW has the potential to rank highly on the list.

Cool! Can’t wait till Cinco de Mayo!

“Cool! Can’t wait till Cinco de Mayo!”

May the Fifth be with you.

After reading Anson Mount’s comments about the show, the legacy and things both on and offscreen – I can’t help but feel excited about the premiere and that the Enterprise is in good hands! I feel bad for the cast that it hasnt really warmed up here yet, but that will change soon!

Can’t wait until May 5th!

That new guy playing Kirk is way to skinny, But we’ll see if he can cut it. Chris Pine does alright. But you have to be good.

Mount’s interpretation of Pike as warm and compassionate (though he didn’t use those words) is interesting. I didn’t get any “warm and compassionate” from Hunter’s Pike.

Up to a point, I think an actor taking over an established role has some obligation to be faithful to the original actor’s interpretation. I’m thinking specifically of the Fake Guinan on “Picard.” She is nothing like the Real Guinan.

I didn’t buy her as Guinan in her first episode, but after a couple of episodes she felt more Guinan than Whoopi Goldberg did in the season’s opening episode.

Love all the captains of star trek, except the smug one from the 33rd century….

He gets it, he really get it!

Yes, yes he does. :-)