Thursday’s episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (titled “Charades“) features the return of Spock’s fiancé T’Pring, played by Gia Sandhu, who took on the iconic role in season 1. TrekMovie.com had a chance to talk to her about the episode and what’s next for the Vulcan.
This is your fourth time playing T’Pring, and it is another light-hearted episode like “Spock Amok.” It must be a surprise to end up playing a Vulcan in comic situations, do you prefer these comedy episodes or the more serious ones?
So it was a joyful surprise. I love these episodes because they allow me to be serious, there are certainly stakes in the T’Pring and Spock relationship. But then, it’s really the circumstances around us that allow for the comedy to exist. While staying within that framework of what it is to be a Vulcan, we still get to bump up against the edges of what those borders really are. I think it’s been a thrill for me to be able to do that.
As you are trying to stay within that Vulcan framework, you are acting with others playing the comedy, including Anson Mount, who is hamming it up a bit. Is it hard for you and the others playing Vulcans to keep a straight face?
I think a lot of our laughs happen in between takes and while hanging out off-screen. For this episode especially, we were shooting pretty late at night. We didn’t have that many days to do it and we kind of just had to work it out because we were shooting during COVID and there are a lot of things that kind of derailed the original plans. So we all kind of put our working hats on and we just try to make the best episode that we possibly could. But we also had a really great time doing it. It was a lot of fun. Late at night, things tend to get a little silly, so that certainly happened. [laughs]
Even with the laughs, this is a pivotal episode for T’Pring and Spock. As T’Pring is so guarded it’s hard to tell, but do you feel that T’Pring genuinely loves Spock, or is this all for family obligation?
To me, it’s very clear that T’Pring loves Spock. I think that she’s loyal and dedicated. On numerous occasions, in different ways, she has shown how badly she wants this to work. One of those moments that I think made it very clear was in the first season when she starts reading about human sex, as she says. They have these virtual dates that they do to try to keep their romance alive. And I think she’s really stood by him and even in this episode, at one point, she does stand up against her mother and says, “Okay, that’s enough, woman, you need to calm down.”
Yeah, the episode shows that complicated relationship. This was Ellora Patnaik’s first time playing a Vulcan but you and she had a very relatable mother/daughter dynamic… and same with you and Michael Benyaer as T’Pring’s father. Did you have much prep time to work out that chemistry?
It came quite naturally. We didn’t actually have much time to work things out before shooting the episode because of everyone’s schedules. But I thought that they were cast so brilliantly. The whole thing came together so well. When I watched the episode, I thought, “Oh, wow, that natural chemistry is really there.” I think you can see how T’Pring ends up being the person that she is when you see what her mother is like, and also what her father is like. She’s a bit of a blend between these two, maybe a bit more towards the mom than the dad but the family looks pretty convincing to me.
You also worked with Mia Kirshner, who is returning as Spock’s mom from Discovery. Even though we have never seen them together, T’Pring and Amanda had a strong dynamic. Were you playing this as them having a strong prior relationship?
Yeah, I think when they first see each other, when T’Pring comes onto the ship, you can see that there. It’s a very brief moment, but there’s a lot of familiarity there. And it certainly did appear to us that they have a relationship where T’Pring, I think, probably feels like she can confide in her more than she can in her own mom. Maybe she has more in common with Spock’s mom than she has with her own mom.
As you developed your performance for T’Pring did you have any specific Vulcan role models? Was Ethan a big help?
I did go through a lot of the material while I was preparing for T’Pring. And Ethan was, of course, a really big help. By the time I came in to do my first episode in season 1, he had already done a few episodes as Spock. So, especially when we were we were swapping bodies [in “Spock Amok”] that was a big one where I really learned about what it is to embody this Vulcan and what their mannerisms are, their level of suppression of emotions, and that they aren’t devoid of emotions. As Spock says in this episode, their emotions are just so powerful and more powerful than human emotions that they have to suppress them. So yeah, there was a lot of learning that went on.
Once again for this episode, T’Pring wears some amazing Vulcan costumes. They are quite elaborate, though; does that add a layer of difficulty to the process?
The only challenge came in season 1 where they were pretty tight. [laughs] I did ask during season 2 that they be loosened a little bit so I could breathe a bit better and eat a bit better. So that was really the only challenge, but otherwise, I would say that all they’ve done is really provide information to me about how to stand, how to walk, how to hold myself as T’Pring, who is quite regal in a lot of ways. I think these beautiful costumes that Bernadette Croft has imagined and created, they give a lot of information. It’s always a real special moment every time I get to step into them for the first time.
Often actors talk about seeing themselves in costume as important. When you see yourself in the makeup, hair, and costume, does that help you get into character as this Vulcan?
Absolutely, because it’s such a change from how I look in my everyday life. It’s such a big transformation. And I think the greater the transformation, the more information you naturally get from it without really having to seek it out. It’s something that just happens on its own. So as the process goes on throughout the morning, and as we get to the end of it and the costume finally comes on, which is the last thing, and I look at myself in the mirror, I go “Oh yeah, there she is.” There’s also something about the hair when it comes to T’Pring’s hair. She has an incredible mane of hair. And that one also really informs for me what this is because there’s something about that weight and that length that causes your neck and your sternum and your shoulders to move in a certain way.
Should we expect to see you again this season? Can you say?
I can’t say. I can’t say. [laughs]
New episodes from season 2 of Strange New Worlds drop weekly on Thursdays on Paramount+ in the U.S, the U.K., Australia, Latin America, Brazil, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Season 2 is also available on SkyShowtime elsewhere in Europe. The second season will also be available to stream on Paramount+ in South Korea, with premiere dates to be announced later.
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