Interview: Doug Jones On More Action And Romance For Saru In ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 5


Doug Jones’ Saru has been a standout character on Star Trek: Discovery since the series debuted. His unique ability to perform with prosthetic makeup has brought depth to the franchise’s first Kelpien character. TrekMovie had a chance to speak to Jones about what’s new for Saru in the fifth and final season and how he feels about saying goodbye.

We can see that Saru gets into more action in season 5. Was this a new challenge, especially with all the makeup, or was this your stunt guy’s problem to solve?

My stunt guy, I want to give him full credit for all that he did for me over all the five seasons as well as Shape of Water and What We Do in the Shadows. He has been my guy in Toronto. When you find a tall, skinny stunt actor who can take a hit and live through it, you keep him and [Bauston Camilleri] saved my life. So, he did the lion’s share of outdoors, uneven terrain, running—that was him. But I still have to do an awful lot out in the forest as well. And when you’re wearing heavy makeup with prosthetics, it is what it is, no matter what environment you’re in. It doesn’t even need to be treacherous terrain. Just even trying to walk, it’s hard enough on a flat floor, let alone in a forest.

Saru gets into the action in the Discovery season 5 trailer

We can also see that this season will also be emotional for Saru. You are conveying a lot of feelings, so were there any changes in the makeup that allow for more facial expression?

Not necessarily, except that the silicone material that my prosthetics are made out of, I found out they accidentally ran it softer than usual one time. And I said, “Oh my gosh, this is so much better.” They can run it hard like a truck tire or they can run it soft like a breast implant. They can run the whole range. So the softer, more pliable version, I asked them to keep it that way from now on. We didn’t discover that until season 5 [laughs]. So, better late than never. It does move better now. It does express better.

Is there anything else in the new season that is a big leap for you—new territory as a character, as an actor?

Well, the growing romance. It’s rare to be in a nonhuman character, in wacky makeup, and have a romance story as well. It’s happened a couple of times, The Shape of Water being one of them. But also this. Having a love interest with President T’Rina, my lovely Vulcan lady friend. And it was a very dignified and subtle relationship that now in season 5 builds to a lovely crescendo.

Embed from Getty Images

Other than the cast and crew members, what do you miss most about Discovery?

Saru has become like a dear friend to me. We know each other so well. He has affected me. I’ve affected him. It’s hard to talk about him in the third person when I’m the guy playing him, but I kind of feel that way. And I’ve learned some life lessons from him about fear, and anxiety, getting over it and through it successfully. Yeah, I’ll miss that.

Can we expect to see Saru in the future, perhaps on the Starfleet Academy show?

I would say: Never say never. I’m open to it, but I’ve heard nothing so far. No one’s called me yet.

Doug Jones with Tara Rosling as T’Rina in season 5 trailer

More to come from SXSW

TrekMovie has more interviews and coverage from the SXSW 2024 premiere and panel discussion, so check back later for more exclusives. See our previous interviews:

The fifth and final season of Discovery debuts with two episodes on Thursday, April 4 exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., the UK, Switzerland, South Korea, Latin America, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, and Austria. Discovery will also premiere on April 4 on Paramount+ in Canada and is also expected to be broadcast on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel in Canada. The rest of the 10-episode final season will be available to stream weekly on Thursdays. Season 5 debuts on SkyShowtime in select European countries on April 5.

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Yes, action and romance. What we watch Star Trek for.

Two of the many reasons I’ve enjoyed the franchise, yes. And, like every last one of those reasons, it’s all in the execution.

I remember this show from the sixties with William Shatner, action and romance. There were even fist fights!

I mean, those are pretty engrained elements of all the shows and movies…

Agreed — those are two that are part of the overall set of good reasons to watch Star Trek.

Not a fan of the following???

“The City on the Edge of Forever”
“This Side of Paradise”
“Amok Time”
“For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”
“All Our Yesterdays”
“Captain’s Holiday”
“Half a Life”
“Second Chances”
“Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places”
“Children of Time”
“You Are Cordially Invited”
“Change of Heart”
“Blood Fever”
“Day of Honor”
“Demons”/”Terra Prime”

Those are some of the most acclaimed episodes of the pre-Discovery era.

You could argue The Inner Light certainly has it as well.

I don’t know that Blood Fever and Day of Honor are terribly acclaimed. Now, Someone to Watch Over Me on the other hand…

Also, Counterpoint wasn’t all about romance, but it struck me as the best take on one for Janeway. She was so invested in the idea of making that connection, hoping against hope it would pan out but taking precautions in case it didn’t. Such an underrated episode.

With all due respect to His Way, it’s amazing to me that Voyager of all shows delivered Trek’s most winning stab at a rom com though – probably the hardest genre to pull off. Seven trying to date but the Doctor falling for her was beautifully handled for one shining episode.

hilarious… you all complain about action and romance and that’s not star trek… you complain that it’s slow and emotional… that’s not star trek… i remember back in the day how ds9 nother action romance slow and emotional series led by an african american was not star trek and that rodenberry was spinning in his grave at the travesty ds9 was.

Despite the many ups and severe DOWNS of Discovery, IMHO the one positive constant has been Doug Jones’ portrayal of Saru. I will definitely miss the character and hopefully Jones continues to show up at events so we can get updates on how he is doing.
LLAP Mr. Jones!

I do think he’s the best brand new live action character we’ve had since 2017, and by quite a bit.

I suppose Pike kinda counts as he’s gotten a pretty notable revamp, but Saru is an entirely original *very* alien creation brought to life by a uniquely gifted and committed character actor.

Though the way he waves his hands behind him as he walks does sometimes make me think Saru is cropdusting everywhere he goes…

Agreed as usual. He was one of the big break out stars from the beginning and always liked seeing him even if the show itself has been rocky.

Given the time period it’s pretty limited of we’ll ever see the character again much outside of Academy.

Saru is my Disco fave!

I totally agree. I haven’t been wild about Discovery, but I adore Saru. Doug Jones is a treasure, and we’re SO lucky to have him for Star Trek.

Action And,Romance Two elements part of Star Trek,FROM THE START!

Agreed — those are two with the overall set of good reasons to watch Star Trek.

This man always gives 110 percent to this show. A pity it didn’t give 110 percent back to him.

That’s because Kurtzman had to lecture him on math:

“Doug, 100% by definition is the maximum you can give us and that we can give back. It unfortunately sounds like you learned math from that Benjamin Stock dude — he is not accredited and is a mathematically confused individual”

Regardless how you feel about the show itself (and it’s my least favorite personally) you can’t say the actors didn’t give it their all. They always showed up very committed, Jones especially.

Saru is my favorite character on DSC, him and Stamets are the only characters I was able to connect with….all the other characters were written to broadly and their scenes feel forced

I totally agree. I think some of that (both the good and the bad) is due to the performances, too (since the writing is usually so thin).

I originally truly disliked Staments but he grew on me by third season.


People are nuts to critique anything we can steal from Shape of Water for Saru’s character arc. Kirk, Spock, Picard, Riker, Data, Sisko, and Kira all had interesting romantic moments. And in theory (I don’t know how old Saru is), T’Rina is age-appropriate!

Always liked Saru and curious what how well his storyline will go this season.

It’s just too bad they didn’t put him in a better show. But he gave it his all.

‘It’s just too bad they didn’t put him in a better show. But he gave it his all.’ They couldn’t put him on a better show since Discovery is still the best of the modern shows.

I’ve got lots of complaints about Discovery, but Saru was one of the few good things to come out of the show. SNW is one of the others. IMHO those may be the only ones.

A great person. I remember the first year the DSC crew was at STLV. It was the end of the day, and Doug was packing up to leave as the activities were over for the first day. He was headed out, and he was great to me when I said hello to him. (I’m a vendor.) I was telling him how good it was to have Star Trek back on TV. He later came to the restaurant we were in at the hotel. He came in, alone, looking for a seat. There weren’t any. He recognized me and I waved him over to our table. He sat down and had dinner with us. Most of the conversation was about his recent movie.