Interview: Titan Bridge Crew Cast Talks Character Backstories And On-Set Fun With Jonathan Frakes

Among the new faces in season 3 of Star Trek: Picard are the bridge crew of the USS Titan, including Joseph Lee (Bajoran tactical officer Lt. Matthew Arliss Mura), Stephanie Czajkowski (Vulcan science officer Lt. T’Veen), and Jin Maley (Haliian communications officer Ensign Kova Rin Esmar). TrekMovie had a chance to chat with the trio on the purple carpet (with a surprise drop-by from Terry Matalas) about their characters, hopes for the future, and how much fun it is when Jonathan Frakes is directing.

Even before the season debuted, fans are already talking about your characters, even the little details. Like for Stephanie, there is even some debate about your ears, with some speculating your T’Veen isn’t 100% Vulcan…

Stephanie: You know, the jury seems to be out on that, at least in the fan community. I have some theories about my background. You guys will get to find them out, I will not confirm nor deny without [showrunner] Terry [Matalas] expressly deciding what and how and when to tell you guys.

How much research did you all do? Jin, you are playing a Haliian, which is fairly obscure Star Trek race.

Jin: Well, in some ways it was easy for me, because there aren’t a ton of Haliians in the Star Trek universe. So with the telepathy and the empathy, I kind of took that and ran with it. So it was pretty simple, actually. I just went with that as part of my interpretation.

Joseph, you’re playing a Bajoran, so there was a lot more to work with; did you do a deep dive on Deep Space Nine?

Joseph: I definitely had to look up things on YouTube and Wikipedia. But in terms of sort of some of the historical influences that I read about and learned about from the show, for the creators being influenced by the Palestinian resistance, and just all these other movements that have happened, and basing the Bajoran movement on that. That was really fascinating for me. I learned a lot.

Stephanie Czajkowski as Lt. T’Veen

This season has so many heavyweights, so does that leave much time to get to know you guys, your personalities, your favorite colors, that sort of thing?

Stephanie: I don’t think you’re going to get to know our favorite colors, although I will say that mine is blue, because science blue. But I think you get a really, really good sense of who we are specifically as crewmates on this ship. I think you definitely get a sense of our characters and also our loyalty to one another.

Jin: They really welcomed us into the fold. On set, it was very a friendly family environment. And I think it comes through in the shooting. I’m sure it’ll come through in the end.

Joseph: Agreed. I think she nailed it, yeah. I think more so than us diving into each other.

[Terry Matalas drops by to interject]

Terry Matalas: I want to jump in and say this is the best bridge crew you have ever seen in Star Trek. I love them. And when you’re done watching them, you’re going to demand to see more. I’ll be right back. So glad to see you guys.

Terry Matalas pops in with Stephanie Czajkowski, Joseph Lee, and Jin Maley

Picking up on that, are you guys ready for Terry’s next show, to be his “Next Next Generation”?

Stephanie: I think that would be amazing if that were to happen. But this season is very much just about finishing up the story that we’ve told.

Joseph: Yeah, I think there’s so much to unwrap with this current season that’s about to come up. So we’ll just try to stay present with it and leave everything else.

Jin Maley as Ensign Kova Rin Esmar

What’s the coolest thing about the bridge of the USS Titan?

Stephanie: Oh my god, my chair. My chair zips back and forth in a swively kind of way. I mean, not on camera because T’Veen would never do that. But I, Stephanie, got to ride that chair back and forth like in a spinny spinny motion. It was like riding a ride.

Jin: Yeah, I would say the chairs too. We were both on the sides. So we got to do a lot of rolling back and forth and just using the whole console.

Stephanie: Joseph was right up front. He was all in command. He was just like “boom.”

Joseph: Yeah, I agree. I would have to say the seats, but I also really loved your screens. Those were sweet.

Stephanie: Our screens were pretty awesome.

Jin: Yeah, very nicely done.

Joseph Lee as Lt. Matthew Arliss Mura

What’s it like being on the bridge with Captain Riker and getting directed by Jonathan Frakes? Did he get to use his trademark “red alert,” and did he sing?

Stephanie: Yes, he definitely sang. He did all those things.

Joseph: Jonathan was really cool. He was actually like the first person on set that really like reached out to us. We were kind of all like the new kids at school and I just remember him extending a hand and just introducing himself and just really make us feel welcome.

Jin: The first thing that happened to me when I was on the bridge was I was standing there and Jonathan introduced himself to me and he just sidled up to me and was like, “You like Star Wars?” And I was like, “What? This is Star Trek?” I was so gullible. But yeah, he was cracking us up all the way. He was really sweet. Such a nice guy.

Stephanie: And as a director, I remember just being in the prosthetics trailer because we all obviously had prosthetics and he had his makeup done on the little ledge upstairs and they get done and he’d be like, “See you on the ice!” And he’d go. You know, your set day, even if it’s long, is always dictated by who’s ever leading it. And when Jonathan’s doing it, it’s just fun. It’s just so much fun.

Joseph: He really sets the tone.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

More exclusive Picard coverage

There are more interviews from the Hollywood premiere event coming. Check out previously released Picard purple carpet interviews plus a post-premiere chat with Terry Matalas:

The third and final season of Picard premieres on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., and Latin America, and on February 17 Paramount+ in Europe and elsewhere, with new episodes of the 10-episode-long season available to stream weekly. It also debuted on Friday, Feb. 17 internationally on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave.

Keep up with news about the Star Trek Universe at

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Excited to see these characters. I’ll be watching at 12:01 am tonight! I’m loving the new direction of this season after the dumpster of season 2.

Terry isn’t missing a single beat with this stuff. He clearly hopes this is the start of something bigger for the franchise and isn’t afraid to show it, haha.

I don’t like how modern trek series are ignoring the importance of the Chief Engineer. Neither DIS or SNW have invested in a permanent Chief Engineer, and it appears that the Titan focuses just on the Bridge crew.

I don’t get why anyone cares, but TNG didn’t have an set chief engineer character until Season 2 itself.

Fans of Scotty care! And there are more than a few of us.

Can you explain why you feel it’s critical to have a lead character who is the engineer, other than some nebulous reason about another completely unrelated character?

BO is also wrong, because SNW has a chief engineer (Hemmer, and now Carol Kane), Discovery has Jett Reno (and even before her it wasn’t like they didn’t spend a lot of time in engineering), Lower Decks has Billups (with lower decker Rutherford an engineer) and Prodigy has Jankom.

Danpaine nails it on the head. This story doesn’t need one.

Those characters are mostly irrelevant and easily replaceable, they are not true main characters.

The role of the Chief Engineer is to give us an insight into the running of the ship and many technological issues that are faced. That is essential to the Star Trek formula.

No, it’s essential to your enjoyment perhaps, but it is hardly essential to the Star Trek formula. Your moving of the goal posts isn’t helping your case either.

The fact that your reason is technical is also not convincing me. If you like Trek because of scientific technical specs and lore, that’s all fine, but that’s not necessarily what other people enjoy about it.

This sounds very much like your personal preference. That’s OK. But there is nothing inherently wrong about it.

Not every Trek series shows all officers as series regulars. TNG never showed us the chief communications officer or chief science officer, for example; I recall there was an offhand reference to the science officer in “Skin of Evil,” and Nella Darren was referred to as a “department head.” Jadzia was nominally science officer on DS9, but acted more like head of operations.

VOY never showed a ship’s counselor. (Neither did TOS or ENT, but the position may not have existed back in the day.)

TOS didn’t show a chief of security.

I always assumed Data was the science officer on TNG.

And I think Starfleet adopted a chief of security to manage them better after all the red shirts killed on TOS. ;)

That’s been done before so many times in Trek that it’s boring now. Most people don’t care how the imaginary space ship works.

The Chief Engineer is the ship’s physician, and in Star Trek, the ship is itself a character.

In the case of the Titan and this season, the captain is himself an engineer and there needs to be a pretext to get Geordi and his second daughter, an engineer aboard.

I suspect we’ll have an engineering focus by not necessarily through the character of the Chief Engineer.

The ship’s physician, interesting. I can see that to some extent, that makes a lot more sense than “he’s a window into technical specs.”

I still don’t necessarily agree that every Star Trek needs a chief engineer though. I don’t subscribe to the notion that there is a Star Trek “formula” that must be adhered to.

I mean, plenty of episodes and stories never went to engineering. Some of the most beloved episodes didn’t feature Scotty, Geordi, O’Brien, or B’ellanna. That doesn’t mean they weren’t great Trek stories.

I mean, if they made a great series set off of a ship, perhaps on Earth, at Starfleet Academy — does it need a chief engineer? and if it doesn’t have one, does that mean it’s not proper Star Trek?

The answer is no, because the question is obviously rhetorical :)

If you look throughout the history of Trek, all the series, all the films, so much of the dialogue, plot devices, obstacles and resolutions involve ship systems/technobabble. “The warp core is gonna blow” “Transporters are down!” “Re-route power through shields” “No power for phasers” If we go to warp 8 the ship canna handle it!” “Shields are failing!” Dilithium crystals, tachyon beams, mushroom power, whatever… For better or worse it has always been a major part of the franchise, so it’s not unreasonable to have an engineer character to deal with this, in my opinion. Though if you insist, I suppose one could just have the helmsman or security chief do it… but in this franchise characters have mostly had specific jobs, and for the most part have been written as department heads… Chief Science Officer, Chief Medical Officer, Chief Security Officer. Why not a Chief Engineer? I mean, it’s a not crazy notion to bring up on a chat board.

That’s your justification? I’m not buying it.

After all, what if 25th century Trek wanted to show tech progression, and said all new starships had no engineering deck? Or didn’t need a chief engineer, just a couple of low level techs to press buttons, because ship engines are all automated, or could be operated and maintained from the bridge.

Does that make it “not Star Trek”? I’d argue it makes it even more Star Trek, showing sci-fi technical progression that is mirroring our own modern day world.

One of the very few things that TNG did well in its first season, but less so later on, was minimizing technobabble. That probably was due to the fact that Geordi was helmsman in that first season. I’m not convinced the chief engineer is essential to the drama, although I appreciate that real-life engineering buffs may disagree.

I get why it’s necessary to have an established Chief in an episodic format, to make the crew feel ‘whole,’ but this season of PIC has been described as a story-driven, 10-episode “film.” I don’t see where a Chief Engineer would be necessary unless the character was organic to this particular story. Looks like the bridge crew of the Titan are going to be in it a lot, so here they are.

Well that makes sense for Picard, but not the other series.

Yep, that’s why those other shows that need engineers have them. You can discount them because you don’t like them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

DISCO hasn’t invested in a chief-much-of-anything. We still don’t know with certainty who is the chief medical officer, chief security officer, etc. They originally envisioned DISCO as “middle decks,” a mistake from which they’ve never really escaped.

Considering it’s on its 5th season, has it really been a mistake? You and I may not like it, but it clearly has a following, and is at least modestly successful. Let it be what it is, even if we don’t like it.

You haven’t been paying attention. The chef Doctor on Disco has been in tons of episodes.

I agree with Q. I couldn’t care less about the “Little People”.

Terry Matalas and Mike McMahan should jointly run the franchise from here on out. Kurtzman would still get paid as his company will be involved, but as creatives and planners of the franchise, these guys should do it. So glad the 24th/25th century is the main focus at the moment (Picard, Lower Decks and Prodigy).

I hope we get a Titan spin off and to check up on other characters of this time period (O’Brien, Bashir, Paris, Tuvok… hell, even Harry Kim!). It finally feels Star Trek is back and I think it’s apparent, going beyond Nemesis into this new century, is the best way to go. Could even plant breadcrumbs for the 32nd century and DIS to pick up on.

Sadly, as I predicted, SNW feels the odd one out. People were clambering for “Enterprise! Pike! Spock!” but it’s going backwards again, which Discovery rightly corrected. Though I feel SNW has been mostly good, it kinda feels stale and a retread (after ENT/Kelvin Timeline and DIS). I’d give it one or two more seasons then wrap it up.

Time to leave prequels in the (future’s) past.

I don’t want McMahan within 1000 feet of live action Star Trek, and one Trek sitcom is enough for all time in my book. McMahan should complete his series, cash his final paycheck, and move on — and the fans who liked that series can thank him and then see him at future conventions.

Kurtzman is doing a fantastic job at the franchise manager — he is totally nailing the most important thing that great managers do — surrounding himself with great people to deliver these series, like Matalas, Myers and the Hagemen brothers. NO CHANGE SHOULD BE MADE — the franchise is kicking ass on all cylinders now.

Great job, Alex Kurtzman — thank you!!!

Yeah, people shouldn’t discount Kurtzman. When he’s been too closely involved, the results haven’t been great, but he’s still responsible for getting SNW made, for getting Matalas involved, and for anything good that’s been done.

I agree, as a franchise architect and top-level producer, he seems to do a good job: he puts the right people where they need to be and gives them the freedom to do what they need to do.

When he’s actively contributing scripts, that’s when there’s problems. A lot like Roddenberry on TNG in fact.

Well said.

I agree Alpha Predator.

My sense is that Kurtzman is good at the strategic level, and has grown as a senior executive.

It’s important to keep in mind that he only became directly involved in Discovery because there were labour relations issues in the writers room.

I respect his willingness to let strong showrunners with a vision champion their shows and deliver them.

More, that he’s now saying that he’s learned that this is what works best for the franchise – to the point that when he’s asked about what should come next, he’s said that this is more important than filling a particular niche or era.

I also want to add that we shouldn’t leave out Henry Alonso Meyers, who has done an absolutely STELLAR job showrunning Strange New Worlds. He’s largely satisfied a large group of fans who hated Discovery, while still making a show that feels like it belongs alongside DSC S1-2.

I’ve always defended and generally liked Kurtzman. After all, he was the one to approve of Lower Decks in the first place lol. I also think because he has listened to fans and hired stronger show runners like McMahan, the shows have gotten better and more in line with Star Trek as they went. He’s not perfect but the guy is trying, that’s all you can do in any job, especially one as broad and big as this one.

It does bother me that he got so directlty involved with Picard, and i’m forced to wonder why that is. I don’t think it was ego, and I don’t think it was a love for the character (ala Matalas).

My suspicion is that he was the one to recruit Stewart, they developed a rapport, and Stewart, Kurtzman, or both mutually decided he should be more directly involved to ensure that the actor was happy.

I don’t want McMahan within 1000 feet of live action Star Trek


It’s 3000 feet at least.

McMahan was responsible for my favorite Short Trek, The Escape Artist and the second highest rated episode after Calypso on IMDB. I have no issues with him doing live action Trek if he has a great idea. Michelle Paradise is the one that needs to be gone after 2 and a half seasons with her horrible decisions on Discovery.

I see a huge swath of DSC fans on Twitter who LOVE the show and everything it does. It’s not really fair for the fans who don’t like the show to decide who stays and who goes.

If you don’t like it, do what I do, and don’t watch it. It’s on its 5th season now, I have no expectation (or desire really) for the show to become something entirely different just because it’s not what I want.

I mean, I also hate That ’90s Show. Should we fire the writers and bring in Terry Matalas, and reimagine the show as a Star Trek series, something I would like?

(yes, that’s an obvious exaggeration, which is intentional, to illustrate my point)

This is true 👍

Sadly, as I predicted, SNW feels the odd one out

Huh? I don’t even know what this means — what’s with this bogus claim that you have been proven right on some SNW prediction you made here? LOL, what total BS, no offense, my friend.

Yeah, SNW has been critically acclaimed and widely loved by fans. I am hopeful for 5-6 seasons, frankly. I wouldn’t even mind them transitioning to Kirk as captain and going 5-6 more.

Personally, it feels fresh and inventive. I love the time period, I love the look, the writing, the cast, everything. Until this season of PIC I haven’t been that in love with a Trek show since DS9.

It feels stale to me. It just nostalgia p*** to old school fans. I watch it, but I’m not in love with it.

But i think a little help of the Star Trek idea Hive can not hurt them. In the end it can benefits the Writer Room with new ideas. But yes, find the balance will be no easy play

I adore LDS and Prodigy, but if I had to choose which team I was putting at the helm of a new live action series, it would be the brothers Hageman.

Give them an episode of SNW first. We know they can do good kids programming, but I have no idea if i’d trust them with a longer form live action adult-skewing series.

I just hope these three don’t end up being cardboard cutouts who never emerge as anything more than faces, like the entire bridge crew of Discovery still is after four seasons.

Given that this season has been promoted as a farewell for the TNG crew I don’t expect that we will get episodes focusing on any of the secondary bridge crew. The writers could still try to give them more than just the standard “firing phasers” or “setting a course” phrases. I could imagine that the bridge crew get more attention if they go for spinoff.

Welcome to the family crew of USS Titan!