TrekMovie joined a group press interview with Ethan Peck, who took on the role of Spock for the second season of Star Trek: Discovery and returns in the upcoming series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. The actor spoke frankly about his process, honoring Leonard Nimoy’s legacy, and how Spock has changed his life.
Note: The interview contains some minor spoilers and has been edited for brevity and clarity.
What were the challenges you faced in bringing Spock to life on Pike’s Enterprise, making him your own while still being true to the original Spock?
That’s a complicated question to answer. I would say that I’m still challenged every single day. I think I’m more comfortable at this point in time with the onus of being the custodian of this character. But I still read things in scripts that I get, and I’m like, ‘I have no idea how I’m going do this, or how it will be true to Spock.’ Because what’s fun about him is that he does sort of live within these boundaries. And then to place him in a scenario that he shouldn’t be in or is really uncomfortable, and that’s when I think really cool things start to happen with the character. And I hope in my performance of the character. But constantly I’m revisiting – I say sort of crazily –literally Leonard Nimoy’s voice in my head when I’m doing a lot of these scenes. Does this sound right? Does it feel right? I am constantly in with, ‘I hope this is in the spirit of his Spock’ and am channeling it as well. And then there are things that are written for my iteration of Spock that has not been written before. And that is my privilege as an actor, and as this Spock.
So you have talked about your Spock has an arc towards becoming the full Nimoy Spock. So how are you calibrating and evolving that journey as you go through season one, and now into season two?
Dude, I have no idea. I’m just doing my best. No, I mean, there’s definitely an eye out for that. And it’s a very collaborative effort between myself and the writers and the producers and the other creative forces behind our show. Because that’s a huge task that I don’t think I can shoulder by myself. I think there are certain touchstones qualitatively about the character that I probably couldn’t articulate to you very well that just feel right and I hope to appear in a way that looks accurate in our final product. But that’s a very collaborative effort, the calibration.
And also, there’s a lot of opportunity in Strange New Worlds to explore and see parts of Spock’s inner world that we’ve not seen before. And there’s really no roadmap for that’s already been laid out. So there is license in our exploration of the character in that regard, which I’m really grateful for. It’s something that really excites me about this show.
How did you deconstruct the role of Spock from only seeing the Nimoy end result?
It’s just been a very delicate and thoughtful process. I don’t think I was able to be the Spock that you see in The Original Series a couple of years ago when I first got the role. I think even now I might be, in my opinion, touching on the more full spirit of that version of Spock. But I myself am in a place of development in my own life that I think really lends itself to this iteration of Spock. And I’m just really lucky to be in the right place at the right time for this role. There’s so many things that worked in my favor, to put me in these shoes, and I’m just trying to capitalize on those attitudes that I seem to have.
How much has Spock as a character influenced you, as a person?
Spock has influenced me so much, it’s weird. I had to really look at myself when I was first cast in this role, because I didn’t know what I was auditioning for in the very beginning. And so something I brought to it lent itself to this iteration of the character. And I needed to better understand that to become more self-aware so that I could better control what I’m inputting into this performance. And in doing so, I learned so much about myself. I had to really grow in a really profound way on a personal level, and therefore as an actor.
I think with art, your life is so informing of your work. And I had to become more than I was. I had to become more clear-headed, better focused, to not be such a hypocrite. We can all be hypocrites in our own ways and I feel like Spock has so much integrity. And I was in awe of that and wanted to become more like that in my own life. We wake up in the morning and we have the opportunity to have whatever thoughts we want. We can do things, but I think most importantly, we’re free in our minds. Or at least that’s a goal that we should all have. And Spock is so good and sharp with his mind. And, and I would say that I learned most from him is to be more optimal with my thinking, to put it in a very Spock-ian way.
There is a musical scene where Uhura and Spock are matching notes. Did you have to do any kind of vocal training to sort of match each other sounds?
[Celia Rose Gooding] is just an incredibly impressive and talented person. But she’s an incredibly talented singer as well. So I just did my best to kind of like sneak in behind her beautiful singing. I myself was a trained classical musician. I played cello growing up. So I’m not totally tone-deaf, I hope. But in terms of singing, yeah, I was quite nervous about that. And we practiced quite a lot.
On the production side, how has shooting Strange New Worlds been different than your time on Discovery?
Firstly, the shows are just so different in so many ways. I think the DNA is the same. Gene Roddenberry’s vision, I think, is very much a part of both shows, which is one of inclusion, of celebration of diversity, of curiosity, of sort of a harmonious existence between vastly different peoples and ideas.
But just by the look, the shows are very different. The tones are different. The colors are different on the sets of the ships. And our show is episodic, which is something that we’re all really excited about. Akiva Goldsman put it wonderfully when he said there’s serialized emotion. But each episode is sort of its own standalone adventure, which I think is great… I love to watch film because it’s a contained experience, you can have it in 90 minutes to two or two and a half hours. And it does something wonderful for you, hopefully, if it’s done properly. And so I hope that our episodes can be like that for people and will convert a lot of fans to our show into the Star Trek universe because there are so many great iterations of it that have already been made and exist and are ready to be seen.
People were clamoring for this since they first saw you in Discovery. And it’s the fans who really pushed for this show, what’s it been like to be in the center of all of that?
It’s been crazy. Firstly, I still can’t believe that I’ve been cast in this role. It’s still something very strange to me. And secondly, there was such a hunger for a Pike Enterprise show, which of course Spock can be a part of, is absolutely thrilling. This has been really one of the greatest journeys of my life thus far and may remain that way. Who knows? But yeah, I feel so incredibly fortunate and lucky and grateful to be a part of this. It’s insane to me, still.
More to come before May 5
The first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will arrive on May 5 on Paramount+.
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