TrekMovie joined a virtual group press interview with two of the leads from Star Trek: Strange New Worlds in advance of the impending debut of season 2. Anson Mount (Captain Christopher Pike) and Rebecca Romijn (First Officer Una Chin Riley, aka “Number One”) talked about what’s new for the show and their characters as well as the big Lower Decks crossover episode.
Note: The interview contains some minor spoilers and has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Una and Pike are free to become the mom and dad of the USS Enterprise
Some of the questions focused on what’s different for their individual characters, especially dealing with the fallout from the season 1 finale when Pike met his alternate future self and Una was arrested for hiding her generic engineering past.
Anson, Pike had a specific arc tied into his future visions ending with meeting his alternate future self. Does this change his perspective, and your performance, in season 2?
Anson Mount: That was the question we had to deal with in episode 101. Not to get past it, but to get Pike back on mission and through the existential crisis, for the most part. You don’t want to entirely forget it, because then you’re leaving behind a very important aspect of the character, which I think makes him brave in a different way than we’ve seen every other captain. But you want to get kind of the navel-gazing out of the way [laughs]. So we did that. And then it’s always been an aspect of the character that his challenge continues to be–and I want it to continue to be for a while–reminding himself that the journey is the destination. And not the other way around. And I think that the introduction of the relationship with Captain Batel has been a very important part of that.
Rebecca, was there a particular aspect of your character that you were excited to explore in season 2?
Rebecca Romijn: Having worked on episode 2 and seeing how Una finally frees herself of having lived inauthentically for so many years. I think freeing herself from that and moving forward and letting her crew and everyone know who she really is feels like it’s a great metamorphosis for the character. It’s going to be fun moving on from that.
How do you feel that leaders like Una and Pike use their weaknesses and vulnerabilities to build and support their crew?
Anson Mount: We were just talking earlier about how our sense of our relationship, the corners you kind of write in yourself as an actor, and we’ve been friends since the Academy. And I believe that Una has become that friend and confidant for Pike that actually is able to show him those things that I’m always self-critical about that are swirling around my head that I think are my weaknesses. When you turn those around, you can actually see those actually can be seen as strengths, as well. But you can’t dwell on it, you got to be active. And that’s why she’s so important to his being a captain.
Rebecca Romijn: I think the level of family there also bleeds down into the crew. I think that we’ve developed this family dynamic and I guess we’re the mom and dad, in a way. I think that there’s been a deep support and level of trust within their relationship that bleeds into the rest of the crew.
With less pressure in season 2 has that allowed you to explore different aspects of how you play your character and take more risks?
Rebecca Romijn: I’ll speak for myself. I think after Episode 2, Una really gets freed up and is no longer hiding, is no longer sort of living in shame with this shameful secret that she’s been hiding all these years. So I think moving forward, that’s going to be very different for her.
Anson Mount: There is this really great thing that happens around season 2 of a TV show when you’re working with smart writers like we are, which is that you’ll find them starting to come to you a bit. Because there is a sense of the character you have from the inside that they’re trying to get to from the outside. Conversations about arcs often leads to really fruitful ideas. And they have been very proactive about doing that with us.
Going big in season 2… especially episode 9
The pair also talked about some of the new elements of season 2, picking up on recent comments about expanding the genres, and more.
How much pressure was off for you guys in season 2?
Rebecca Romijn: Sometimes it’s a little more pressure. We’ve seen shows where the second season doesn’t compare to the first season. So we really wanted to make season 2 bigger and better than season 1. And we took some real chances, took some big swings genre-wise and tried a lot of things. We’re excited to share it with everyone.
Anson Mount: Yeah, we really had the benefit of a network that had learned to trust our showrunners when they want to take big swings. And also their investment, like we continue to build out this ship. So there’s just tremendous support from the network.
What do you think viewers will be most surprised about in season 2?
Rebecca Romijn: We’ve taken some very big swings genre-wise in season 2. We have a few episodes coming up [in the second half of the season] that are really out there. So we’re very proud of them. We’re very excited. Anson mentioned earlier that sometimes when you get to episode 9, which is almost at the end of the season, everyone’s kind of tired. Everyone’s sort of almost ready to go home. They brought us this episode that was so out there. It required us to work on weekends. And we were also excited about it, it was like this extra wind behind our sails that we needed at that point in the season.
Anson Mount: I would say that the brevity that the network has given us now–we had a couple of episodes in that first season that they weren’t too sure about. And both of those episodes are ones that popped for us. And so they gave our showrunners a lot more freedom to play with genre. Akiva [Goldsmith]’s mantra continues to be: “Star Trek can be a lot of things.” So we’re not just playing with the message that can be told, but within the episodic structure we can play with how we get there. And genre has been a fun way of us talking with the writers about what we haven’t done that we would like to do that makes everybody excited to be there, which I think is often an undervalued currency in filmmaking is the excitement level, especially in television.
Why the Lower Decks crossover needed Jonathan Frakes
One of the most talked about elements of the upcoming season is the crossover with Star Trek: Lower Decks with two characters crossing over from the animated adult comedy into live-action. The crossover (episode 7) was directed by Jonathan Frakes.
What was it like doing comedy for the crossover episode with Tawny Newsome and Jack Quaid?
Rebecca Romijn: Ridiculously fun. Just so fun.
Anson Mount: I don’t think we have seen guest stars come with such ownership of the material before.
Rebecca Romijn: They both have such great backgrounds in improv, and they never did the same thing twice. They did something different. They took it off the page and played with it in every single take. It was so fun. And having Jonathan Frakes there was very important to sort of massage the two worlds so that it was cohesive. They come from this animated show and now they’re on the Enterprise, which is a very, very different tone. It was really important that he was there to meld those tones.
Anson Mount: I don’t think anybody else could have directed the episode. It was so much fun.
Rebecca Romijn: It was just a blast.
More to come
We have more interviews from the press junket coming up so stay tuned. Season 2 will premiere Thursday, June 15 on Paramount+ in the U.S, the U.K., Australia, Latin America, Brazil, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The second season will also be available to stream on Paramount+ in South Korea, with premiere dates to be announced at a later date. Following the premiere, new episodes of the 10-episode season will drop weekly on Thursdays.
Season 1 of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is currently available to stream exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., the U.K., Latin America, Australia, South Korea, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. It airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave in Canada and on SkyShowtime in the Nordics, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and Central and Eastern Europe.
Find more stories on the Star Trek Universe.