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Comic-Con 2017: Star Trek Discovery Press Conference

Comic-Con 2017
Star Trek Discovery Press Conference

Patricia Morris Buckley – Sr. Staff Writer

At the Star Trek: Discovery press conference, Rainn Wilson best expressed the wonder of being part of the Gene Roddenberry universe.

“To go on the ship, to get to use a phaser, go to the transporter room and get transported and to sit in the captain’s chair is one of life’s greatest experiences,” he said. “It isn’t something you take lightly.” Wilson is tackling the minor role of Harry Mudd, a character from the original series.)

photo: patricia

Anthony Rapp agreed. “The first time they handed me a phaser, my head explored.” (Side note: Rapp is playing Trek’s first openly gay character, Lt. Paul Stamets.)

But Sonequa Martin-Green (First Officer Michael Burnham) said it best when asked what it felt like to be a black woman leading a series. “I know that I stand on the Nichelle Nichols’ shoulders,” she said. “It’s such an honor and privilege to be part of a story I truly believe will bring people together.”

That sentiment was echoed by Jason Isaacs, who plays Captain Gabriel Lorca (but is best know as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films). “We hold a vision of the future where people have found a way to all get along,” he said. “The sets are amazing, the gadgets are great – but what counts is how we’re showing what our planet could be like.”

Producer Alex Kurtzman said this theme is central to the Star Trek universe. “That’s a major factor in Roddenberry’s vision, that all species and races make the world better. That’s something that will never be lost in Star Trek.”

Part of this vision is that Roddenberry populated his cast with people of all races, creating a space where it’s considered the norm. “Roddenberry’s greatest contribution to race relations is not to address it,” he added.

Or as Martin-Green said: “Aculturization is not assimilation. We don’t have to let go of who we are to understand others.”

The first season will be 10 episodes long and the production team has already shot two-thirds of the shows. The novelization approach that producer Brian Fuller (no longer the showrunner) promised at last year’s Comic-Con, will still happen, albeit much later than anticipated.

“Why the delay?” said Kurtzman. “We knew that we were really going to push technology to a higher level and that takes time. We’re creating a whole new world. We’ve built equipment so we can film differently. We built longer hallways for longer tracking shots. The show has to look like a movie, especially if people are going to pay for it. If you rush those things, the quality suffers.”

Oh, and by the way, Kurtzman promised there will be tribbles! But don’t expect too many light moments.

“This universe is dark for Star Trek,” explained Wilson. “There’s a war happening, so we can’t have funny whack-a-doodle stuff happening.” That’s also true for his character, which was played for laughs in the original. “This version is a little more dastardly.”

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