Bruce Horak Talks Hemmer’s Pivotal ‘Strange New Worlds’ Episode And His Star Trek Future

WARNING: Article contains SPOILERS for latest episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

The big surprise in Thursday’s episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (“All Those Who Wander”) was the tragic sacrifice of Hemmer. His death protected the crew from another wave of Gorn, but resulted in a tearful goodbye to the Aenar chief engineer for the crew of the USS Enterprise. In a series of post-episode interviews, actor Bruce Horak talked about the episode and his potential future with the franchise.

The Enterprise crew mourn Hemmer

A noble death was all part of the plan

Hemmer’s death in episode nine wasn’t a surprise to Bruce Horak, as he explained in all of his interviews, including this one with TV Insider:

I found out about the death of Hemmer from the very get-go. Henry Alonso Myers and I met over Zoom and he just flat out said, “Listen, this is what we have in mind for Hemmer.” And yeah, so I knew before I’d even had my head mold made.

Horak told Nerdist he was “actually relieved” the episode was finally out, explaining that he knew it was coming ever since he took the job:

They told me right off that they were setting Hemmer up to be the Obi-Wan Kenobi basically, to train Uhura, to give her that final piece of advice. And that lesson—it’s the arc of her journey through the first season—is finding a home and connecting with the people on the Enterprise. And I knew that coming in, but I didn’t know how it was going to resolve. All I knew was that he was going to die. And I think my initial request was please make it cool.

In an interview with Collider, Horak said he “knew from the start” that Hemmer was destined for a “noble death,” and he was happy to see how it came together for episode nine:

What is it when something comes full circle? Completion. Yeah, it’s a moment of completion. He certainly brings the ship back online, the broken USS Peregrine. So he’s integral in fixing the physical environment so that they can actually physically leave. Beyond that, it’s the situation itself, which is this incredible hazard. He’s about to erupt with Gorn and the solution to that is to sacrifice himself. I think that’s a really lovely moment of completion for the character. Showing that sacrifice is really the heart of what Starfleet is all about, sacrificing yourself for those you love. That beautiful lesson to Uhura feels like all of the little loose ends have been tied up in a lovely bow.

Bruce Horak as Hemmer in “All Those Who Wander”

Heartbreaking shoot

Even though he was “really happy with how the episode turned out,” Horak revealed there was a lot of emotion on set for his goodbye to THR:

There were a lot of tears. The final day we shot was actually the landing on the planet. It was really tearful, especially the prosthetics crew Allan Cooke and Shane Zander, who worked tirelessly on the look of Hemmer for the season. We really had a special bond, spending three and a half hours every morning getting ready and then an hour at the end of the day to get out of the prosthetic gear. Honestly, Shane and Allan sent me off in great style. There were exchanges of gifts. It was really lovely.

And to TV insider, Horak talked about his final scene:

Tough scene to shoot. Heartbreaking. Connecting over the four or five months with the cast and having to say goodbye was just one of the hardest things. I was really happy with how it turned out and even on the page, it just read like a really beautiful moment. And I feel really lucky that he did get to say goodbye, that he did get to have that moment, and ultimately that his sacrifice was noble. It felt like the perfect way to send this character off and that he would leave a lasting impression and the message that he was giving with his own his own death was one of sacrifice and love. As an actor, I couldn’t ask for better.

He also added his time on Strange New Worlds was the “best year of my life, tops,” adding:

So many things off the bucket list in this season and one of them is definitely getting to do the Vulcan salute and say “live long and prosper.”

Bruce Horak as Hemmer in “All Those Who Wander”

Hemmer and Uhura

The actor also talked with Collider about his time on the series and what it took to develop the Aenar character:

I really dug into the history of the Aenar. I dug into Memory Alpha and I went back and looked at what we knew about his species and where they are. Knowing that there are very few of them left, that they are a dying species, that they are somewhat ostracized and considered a myth in the Andorian world, I felt like this is another great outsider figure that obviously puts up this sort of veneer of gruffness and harshness in order to keep people a bit at a distance, might be coming from general suspicion or fear. But ultimately, it feels like that’s where it’s coming from, feeling like an outsider.

And with Nerdist, he gave more detail about Hemmer’s relationship with Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding):

From the very start he’s saying his sensors are superior and he’s a genius. And you know, he demonstrates that. In his short time, as we see him on-screen, that’s he fixed what is broken and that he was a good teacher. And he learns that from Uhura, that he’s a good teacher. He certainly does change over the course of the season. That, I think, is a mark of good writing, to see a character change. That’s true drama. That’s being altered by either others or circumstances. And in this way, I think he’s altered by Uhura. And some of that guard he had up at the beginning is gone. I hope they remember him as part of the family.

The actor talked about the chemistry he had with Celia Rose Gooding:

I really connected with Hemmer. Celia and I connected from the very beginning. Most of our scenes are together, so we spent a lot of time off-camera just hanging out and connecting about music and theater. She has a background in theater, as do I. That was one of the hardest goodbyes, for sure.

Celia Rose Gooding as Uhura and Bruce Horak as Hemmer in “Children of the Comet”

More Star Trek for Bruce

Hemmer may be dead, but Bruce Horak revealed episode nine will not be his final moment with Star Trek. In a number of interviews, he spoke about what he has been authorized to reveal. With THR he said:

I have been released to say that this is not the end of Bruce Horak’s career in Star Trek.

Horak told Original Cin:

I have been allowed to say this, that this is not the end of Bruce Horak’s journey with Strange New Worlds.

And to Cinemablend, he explained:

I can officially say that the Star Trek career of Bruce Horak is not over. I can’t share much beyond that, but I can at least say that I’m absolutely thrilled and honestly I’m so happy with how this season turned out.

As for what he thinks is Hemmer’s legacy, Horak embodied his character, telling TV Insider:

Yeah. I think about that, how he wants to be remembered, which is different than how Bruce wants him to be remembered, but Hemmer, I think, wants to be remembered as an excellent engineer, as a genius. [Laughs] I’d say that he was able to achieve his life life’s purpose and that he did fix things.

Bruce Horak at New York premiere of Strange New Worlds


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We all salute you Mr Horak for creating a memorable character in such a short space of time. You left an indelible impression on all of us. Hemmer will be sorely missed. Live long and prosper dude.

I really enjoyed the character and what Horak brought to the role. He is a great actor and took Hemmer to a whole level that you would not expect. I’m kind of disappointed that he’s gone. I had looked forward to watching more of Hemmer.

Hemmer reminds me so much of Airiam from Discovery. Both characters were fan favorites and their deaths made fans cry but also we lost both before we really got to know them as well as we did other characters. I do hope we see the actor again sooner rather then later in SNW like we did with Sara Mitich as Lieutenant Nilsson in Discovery. She made Airiam such a memorable character who is still missed today by a large portion of the Trekkie fandom and yes i know a different actress played Airiam in S2 but Sara Mitch was and will always be Airiam in my mind.

It’s only happened twice but it already feels a bit like a Secret Hideout trademark – that of “pulling an Airiam”. Then again, Picard didn’t have one as far as I can remember.

While Hemmer wasn’t used nearly enough, at least we didn’t learn all about him in his final episode, unlike Airiam. I haven’t seen the episode yet but Hemmer had more character development than most of the supporting cast of Discovery did in the first few seasons…like we learned as much about them as we did say Ensign Gates, as opposed to an O’Brien or Ro on TNG.

Yeah you have to give them that to be fair – still kind of crazy to think they did it all in a single episode with Airiam. I liked the [Airiam] character but found it impossible to feel what the characters did in that episode.

“Then again, Picard didn’t have one as far as I can remember”

Well, Hugh…

Oh yeah Hugh! Damn…

Hemmer is the best new Star Trek character since Odo. However short, I did enjoy his arc and the way he left the crew and especially his impact on Uhura and even Spock. Well done.

I liked Horak’s performances, so I’m glad the producers liked him enough to want him back in some capacity. Guest star? Or recurring character?

Why not, BOTH?

Thank you so much, Mr. Horack for sitting through SO many hours of makeup in order to create such a wonderful character. Hemmer is in the fine tradition of Trekkian outsiders and is a wonderful addition to the canon. Thanks so much for playing him, and I’m glad we’ll get to see you again in the future!

This was the only mistake is S1. If they felt they had have a death or removal of one weekly character to show accountability, I think Ortegas is the weakest link.

I love Ortegas, and I’ve seen a lot of Ortegas love on other sites. Really, I wouldn’t want to be without any of the regulars; they’re all quite good.

Hmm. OK, well all I see is a character who is a pleasant supporting crew member with a weird haircut who has some humorous banter with other crew members from time to time…that’s about it?

Glad we will see more of Bruce Horak. Did anyone else feel like Horak’s voice greatly resembled Jeffrey Combs’ when playing Shran – perhaps a bit gruffer? Maybe just my hearing.

He has said that he very much wanted to bring continuity with Combs’ performance as Shran.

I definitely hear Shran’s cadences in Hemmer.

I’m sorry I still think it was a huge mistake to get rid of Hemmer. I understand that was always the plan but they killed not only another alien on a ship filled with mostly humans but one of the most interesting characters period. I like most of the new crew but I would’ve honestly let any of them go outside of Pike, Spock and Una if we could’ve kept Hemmer. That’s how much I was enjoying this character.

Yep!!!

If there one’s thing in modern dramatic television I can’t stand, above all others, it’s the killing off of characters — to be edgy or unpredictable or whatever their reasons — before that character has been fully developed. Well, I thought Hemmer had more potential than Obi-Wan Kenobi anyway. I still don’t understand why that character is so popular. But I digress.

Here’s to you, Mr. Horak. You did great.

Just yesterday I watched “The Aenar” episode of ENT (S4E14).

It was a good episode to me for a number of reasons. While watching it yesterday, it reminded me of the thrill I had watching it when it originally aired years ago.

I thought (1) J.Combs as Shran is simply awesome. I truly enjoyed his portrayal. Combs brings dimension, attitude, and sauce to his roles. (2) The way Shran and Archer play off each other felt like an awesome good cop bad cap pairing. I wanted so much to see how that “partnership” would grow and develop. That’s what I thought originally, not knowing then that ENT would end with S4. (3) Shran’s antennae (plural) communicated a lot of emotion through their articulation. That is, until one was cut off.

Anyway, I mention Combs’ Shran because I see a lot of the same old codger-type, endearing irascibility and sauciness in Horak’s Hemmer. I am glad that certain Shran traits appear in Hemmer. I just wish we had more Hemmer … and more Antenna articulation.

The characters in SNW are simply well written. Quite a treat.

Such a great character. My fav on the series so far.

See, I think they left plenty of plausibility that Hemmer survives. Follow me here. Gorn can’t survive in the cold. More than once Hemmer remarked that the planet was so much like his home world. Seems to me that after the others left and the 4 baby Gorn erupted out of Hemmer, the little buggers could succumb to the cold before they have time to kill him. The cold temperature, in and of itself, wouldn’t kill Hemmer. It could even keep him from bleeding out. He’s resourceful enough to stay alive alone on the L Class planet until he’s found by a friendly and reintroduced in the series.

I think that you’re on the right track with the idea that Hemmer could survive the deep cold and the Gorn could not.

I’m not even convinced that they didn’t died before hatching out.

My hypothesis is that Aenar can go into some kind of frozen state like frogs. This would kill the developing Gorn outright

Not to split hairs, but, I think the Gorn babies wouldn’t die before hatching even if Hemmer were to go into a state of ‘hibernation’ because I suspect they’d go into ‘hibernation’ with him until he warmed up again and then they would hatch – since the groundwork was laid for variable hatching time depending upon the host’s physiology. Plus, based on what Hemmer said and how he looked as he walked out of the ship, they seemed to be about to erupt.
Also, given that the away-team had walked around on the planet’s surface before entering the ship without freezing up, it would surely take Hemmer some time to get cold enough to enter a hibernation state, if his species even does. But, the baby Gorn are slimy, wet and seem comparatively delicate when they emerge. It seems to me that it would be difficult for them to stay warm and thrive if they emerged there.

I think it’s a sad statement on the state of Star Trek that they’d introduce a series-regular character with the intention of killing them off. That’s really not the sort of thing this franchise ought to be doing, in my opinion.

It’s so sad to see this great new character go in the way he did. I think Bruce did an amazing job in the role. I always knew the engineer would be replaced by Scotty but I didn’t think it would play out like this. Hemmer was my favorite of the new characters by far. The character had such potential, I don’t but this role of being a teacher for Uhura as being the completion of his ‘journey.’

SNW is in need of an ‘other’ type character, I don’t think Spock really fulfills that role now as the audience are so familiar with that character. I guess it is indicative of a lot of the crew, we know that Ortegas will be replaced by Sulu, M’Benga by McCoy, Una by Spock, Pike by Kirk.

I wonder if they will pull a ‘Yesterdays Enterprise’ and change the timeline to keep these characters or if they will just run straight into a reboot of TOS.

This feels wasted so far.
We will see wthat time travel shenanigans will happen.

Bravo, Mr.Horak 👏!!!!!! I got choked up watching that whole scene. I truly felt Hemmer’s sacrifice. I wish we had more time with Hemmer but I know that next year we’re more than likely getting Scotty as our Chief Engineer so the story has to keep moving forward.

You know even though we just met Hemmer, he’s actually been on the Enterprise for awhile now so when the Strange New Worlds novels start coming out (which the books are considered canon now), hopefully we’ll get some stories that have Hemmer in them because of how unique of a character he is and how much people really took to him and liked him. Also, I think Mr.Horak’s next Star Trek project will be in either Lower Decks or Discovery. We don’t know much about Hemmer so he could have left a family behind on Andor. It’s a possibility we could see a descendant of Hemmer’s in the future.

Or Mr.Horak could be playing a brand new character. Maybe he’ll turn into the new Jeffrey Combs, playing all these different Star Trek characters on all these, huh 🙂? Well, I’m looking forward to seeing Mr.Horak again and whatever character he’s going to play next.

Live long and prosper, Trekmovie 🖖

Horak could be in any or all of the current shows.

I suspect that he outperformed their expectations when they sought to cast the role.

There aren’t that many actors with the mask technique to convey so much through the prosthetic makeup. That’s why David Benjamin Tomlinson who plays Linus does many of the other alien roles on Discovery as well.

Horak’s resonant voice could fill a voice role on either Lower Decks or Prodigy.

Yes, Mr. Horak has a magnificent voice that’s why I mentioned Lower Decks. I don’t know about Prodigy because they’re so far out of Federation space, in the Gamma Quadrant now, it would be hard to encounter an Andorian for them unless they wrote Hemmer into a holodeck type of story, you know? Like they did Spock and Odo. I did not know that the actor that plays Linus on Discovery plays a lot of the alien roles on there.

Now I’m gonna rewatch it just so I can see if I can find him 🙂. I can definitely see Mr.Horak on Lower Decks because we don’t know if Hemmer had a family on Andoria, if he did then a descendant could show up on there. I don’t think Mr.Horak will show up on Picard because that’s ending. And Discovery I think is a definite possibility because, once again, we could get a descendant of Hemmer’s in the 32nd century.

But even if he’s not playing another Andorian, I would love to see what alien race he dips into next. Just having Mr.Horak in the Star Trek universe in some way is a plus because of how gifted of an actor he is. Live long and prosper, TG47. 🖖

Rather unfortunate choice. Hemmer was an interesting character. What a loss for the show. Even if Mr. Horak returns as another character, there is no guarantee that character will be anywhere near as interesting as Hemmer.

Not an incorrect take (I made my own post about what a shame the choice to kill him was, since Hemmer was an interesting character and SNW is severely lacking in alien main and recurring cast). That said, Horak seems to have that stage presence gravitas. I suspect that, assuming the writers don’t completely fail him, he could spin gold out of straw given the chance.

I love Bruce Horak and am glad he is coming back to Star Trek, but I really want Hemmer back. Here are some thoughts on how Hemmer could come back:

–Hemmer kept a copy of his pattern in a transporter buffer for…reasons.
–A transporter accident made another copy of Hemmer like Thomas Riker
–The Aenar can transfer their consciousness across lightyears to a family member upon death. Then we go “Search for Hemmer.”
–The baby Gorn instantly froze coming out of Hemmer’s body as he fell. He then landed in soft snow and the Aenar can go in to hibernation in cold temperatures. Starfleet sends a small away team back to planet to check for leftover Gorn eggs, etc. They then stumble upon the still-alive Hemmer! OR instead of Starfleet, Hemmer’s sister or other family member has a psychic link to Hemmer and tracks him down.
–A holographic version of Hemmer that Uhura plays when she is distraught and needs some consoling or inspiration.
–Another hologram of Hemmer that Hemmer recorded himself as instructions for the Enterprise systems that the new Chief Engineer will play when stuck on fixing something. (probably Scotty)

Here’s hoping for more Hemmer!

I really liked Hemmer and was genuinely sad to see his character die, but it was a noble sacrifice. As others have said, he made his mark in a very short span.

I’ll also express my disappointment with this development. Hemmer was a neat character and I wanted to learn more about him. Horak did a great job in the role. And sometimes a surprise character death can pay dividends in storytelling later (see also: Tasha Yar). But, SNW is severely lacking in alien main and supporting characters. We have Spock, who is technically alien, but so well known to the pop culture and also half human, that he isn’t very “other.” We also know Spock’s journey is about marrying his human and Vulcan selves.

Other than Hemmer, the only other “alien” in the main cast is Una. And, no offense to the character, but Una being an alien has only been relevant in one episode, and not only has it not been relevant otherwise, she is for all intents and purposes treated as human by the show otherwise. I’m sure we’ll get more Una stories that play on being an alien, but, well…this is Star Trek. WTF are the alien cast? Are there even any real supporting characters that are alien? Even our last away mission had Sam Kirk, Ensign Lt. Duke, and the other cadet (when they were introduced at the start of the episode I told my dad, “no red shirts but I guarantee they die”) are all human as far as we know.

I’m very much enjoying SNW but I feel like the lack of alien crew is a missed opportunity – most of Trek’s best/interesting characters have been alien. For a reason – they hold up a mirror to humanity in what its like to be different. One of the key tenets of Trek.

Anyway, my two cents. I am very much enjoying the show but I’ll be annoyed if Scotty shows up next season as a replacement AND we don’t get a new alien or two in at least the regular supporting cast.

I was surprised to see them get rid of Hemmer. I really liked the character and thought he was going to be a regular for quite some time to come. I feel there was so much more to tell. To learn about the Aenar and Hemmer in particular. I think Mr. Horak did a fantastic job with Hemmer and I look forward to seeing more of him in ST in the future. I am sure he’ll be a guest at some cons.

it’s such a shame they decided to kill off such a cool character without giving him much to do.