With the arrival of the first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds on Blu-ray and DVD coming next week, TrekMovie had the opportunity to chat with two of the stars about the show. Celia Rose Gooding (Uhura) and Melissa Navia (Ortegas) talked about their experiences in season 1 and what’s new in season 2.
One of the defining characteristics of Strange New Worlds is the episodic structure along with a variety of different styles and genres. What is that like for you as performers to change things up each episode?
Melissa Navia: I think, for me, it feels like every episode is like a mini-movie. We get to kind of create this new world, but within a world that we are also very familiar with. And then also, every episode has a different director who brings their own talents and worldviews, and experiences. So every single every one for me has been like a new day. But I think it’s worked. We’ve seen that it’s worked with fans with this idea of a new adventure every week. You’re still going back to that ensemble that you love and the camaraderie that you love, but putting it in a new element. Star Trek allows us the freedom to kind of go where nobody thought we could go… boldly going to all sorts of new places. And that is all I will say about season 2. But in season 1, we already saw that. We’re able to kind of play in a lot of different genres and it was a blast to do it. This cast and crew are so talented that we’re able to do and it feels almost seamless.
Celia Rose Gooding: Agreed. I think that it’s a testament to our cast, and testament to our showrunners, and to our crew and our directors, how we can keep these sort of grand arcs when it comes to characters, but also, we can drop into these different genres and have it still feel like us. And not like we’re trying too hard to do something just for the sake of saying that we did it. As you said, it feels very organic. And I’m so glad it was well-received by fans, because, not to spoil too much for season 2, but we continue the trend of trying new stuff.
As each director is coming in with a different take, are they taking you aside and saying like “this is a comedy episode so play it looser” and the other way around for a more military action type of episode, or is it just scene by scene?
Melissa Navia: I don’t feel like it’s ever like “you can loosen up more” or you have to be more of this. Because just like in life, as humans, we go through all those different emotions and those things, but what’s kind of underneath us and what makes us who we are is still present. So for Ortegas in season 1, we didn’t know too much about her background as a soldier, but I did, and the writers did, and the producers did. So that influenced what I did with her as a character because that was all there. So you can still be a soldier and you could have gone through wars and death and grief and still be able to laugh and have a crazy episode of hijinks. I think that it speaks to the nature of the writing and that the writing is so good. It’s so true to our characters, no matter if we have if we’re doing a more comedic episode or we’re doing a more serious episode. The writing is so good that we’re just able to inhabit that new world for that episode.
Celia Rose Gooding: I completely agree. It’s never really a sit-down conversation of like, this is the episode where we feel this way. It’s very clear in the writing of like, ‘Oh, my character is going through this experience over this over the season, but in these moments…’ There’s a great quote that Ortegas has [in season 2]–I cannot say the exact quote because I want to keep my job–but it was basically a commentary on how you never know when you’re going to get your next laugh and you never know when you’re going to get a moment to sort of relax. So, if you are given those moments, even though we’re living in this very-high stakes universe, it’s important to smile even though you may not know when you’re going to be able to do it again next.
Melissa last year we talked about how you would get the graphics guys to give you stuff to do for your console even when it wasn’t on screen. So were you also poking the writers to give you more about Ortegas’ backstory?
Melissa Navia: No for that I didn’t need to poke them at all because they put that all in the breakdown. The breakdown was very much true to the Ortegas that you saw on screen. But they kind of presented me with all this information. Looking back at season 1, I can see it because I know what informed the decisions that I made as an actor and what I gave to the character, and how we created Ortegas. But I’m excited about season 2 because now audiences and fans are going to see more of Ortegas and then they’re going to be able to look back at season 1 and be like, “Aha! So that makes sense.” Again that goes back to the writing and the story and the fact that the writers were so sure of the characters that they were creating and trusted us to do that. But yeah, with the graphics, they were all fantastic. Sitting there at my console, I was just like, “I need to know what my evasive maneuvers look like.” What am I doing on the screen when I am doing these evasive maneuvers? Beneath that, I think it was knowing that Ortegas had a background as a soldier and as a super-competent pilot, that allowed everything else to kind of come from that. There was this foundation, which is everything.
Celia, much of Hemmer and his arc was built around Uhura and Bruce Horak said he knew from the beginning Hemmer was going to do die, did you?
Celia Rose Gooding: I knew. I think in our first initial meetings I think it was told to the entire cast, but I may be wrong. But I remember hearing that and being like, “Okay, now immediately forget it.” Because–and you see it in season 1–Bruce is a fantastic actor and a fantastic storyteller. Hemmer and Uhura’s relationship meant so much to Uhura, of course, but it also meant a lot to me because to have someone who takes you very seriously as an actor, but to also have a character that doesn’t sugarcoat the experience for you and really has faith–that was very important for a Uhura to have. And yeah, those were very real tears in Hemmer’s final moments, not just because of that loss as a character but also that loss as an actor of “Oh no, that’s my friend and I’m not going to be able to see my friend again in this universe in the same way.” It was very real emotion. But yeah, I loved working with Bruce. I hope we continue to find ways to like have his presence as a part Uhura’s life because we’re sort of figuring out which relationships mold Uhura into the character that we all love and the future, the lieutenant Uhura. And so I’m very grateful for that relationship. And I can’t wait to continue to showcase to audiences how their relationship has influenced the person that she is.
One of the special features of the new Blu-ray/DVD set is about the AR wall. This is a brand new technology. Can you talk about lessons learned in season one and maybe how you applied them in season two?
Celia Rose Gooding: I think it was totally a learning experience because of the technology of how it works. The wall moves to make sense for the camera angle. The wall is constantly moving and they’re constantly things happening and at first, it was about having to like gain your bearings of understanding that while the world may move around, you are standing very still. It was almost trying to remember not to get dizzy or if there are grand movements it’s best to not try and follow it because you will confuse you brain. For me, it was definitely a learning curve. But once you get used to it, it’s really, really something special. The work that we do in season 2, it’s just fantastic and phenomenal and really, really exciting. I cannot wait for audiences to see what we do with that incredible piece of technology.
Melissa Navia: My favorite thing was in season 1, it didn’t happen in season 2, but it would like occasionally stop working. Like half the screens go black, and then it goes a little green and you feel like you’re in the Matrix. I would get so excited because it was my first time doing it and everyone else who’d done it before, like Rebecca [Romijn], would be like, “This means we’re going to be here that much longer.” But really when you are on the AR wall, you are a storyteller. So much of what you’re doing is you’re creating a world that might not necessarily exist in front of you, but on the AR wall, you really do see it. That makes it slightly easier for us, but also, it’s a whole new level of doing what we do. Yeah, we have some fun times coming up in AR wall in season 2.
Strange New Worlds arrive home on Tuesday
Season 2 of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds debuts on Paramount+ later in 2023. Season 1 arrives on Blu-ray, DVD, and limited-edition Blu-ray Steelbook on March 21. The release features over 90 minutes of special features.
Season 1 of Strange New Worlds will also be the first Star Trek TV title to get a release on 4K UHD Blu-ray, coming on May 16. This 4K release is a limited edition Steelbook, and the set includes Ultra HD Blu-ray discs only. You can preorder the Strange New Worlds Season 1 4K UHD Steelbook at Amazon for $59.99.
Launch party in L.A.
All Star Trek fans are Invited to Hollywood’s Scum and Villainy Cantina to celebrate the home launch of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season one. CBS and Paramount are hosting a special Strange New Worlds trivia night on the evening of Friday, March 24. Hosted by Star Trek science advisor Dr. Erin Macdonald, the one-night-only event features special guests, giveaways, a limited-time menu with Star Trek-themed food and drinks and an exclusive Q&A with the host and special guest. Fans will also receive a special sneak peek at behind-the-scenes footage from the first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. It all happens at Scum and Villainy Cantina – 6377 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028 – doors will open at 6:30 p.m. PST and trivia will begin at 7:00 p.m. PST.
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