We continue our series of Star Trek: Discovery interviews from New York Comic Con with the newest members of the cast, Ethan Peck and Anson Mount, who take on the roles of Spock and Pike in Discovery’s second season.
While the two actors may be the least-tenured members of the Trek cast, they both bring back iconic Original Series characters to the modern-day series, each with their own challenges and expectations. TrekCore last talked to Mount back at San Diego Comic Con in July, so we were happy to get our first chance to chat with Peck as he made his debut appearance ahead of Discovery’s January return.
As with our other NYCC interviews, the questions are from a mix of participants — TrekCore’s contributions are noted along the way! — and the conversation began by exploring how the pair thought about the Trek franchise as they joined up for their roles.
QUESTION: How does it feel to be becoming part of this iconic franchise?
PECK: Are you kidding me? It’s ‘Star Trek,’ it’s like… this is the longest on the job where I’ve still felt surreal [about the experience]. You know, like every day. Literally, every day I’ll be on the set, and I’ll look around, and I’ll be like, “I’m on fucking ‘Star Trek!’”
MOUNT: I said that three times yesterday! [Laughs] It is so surreal. And I mean, the amount of work that goes into creating these sets that are just utter masterpiece… the attention to detail is just unparalleled, in my opinion.
PECK: It’s huge. It’s six soundstages.
QUESTION: Were you two big ‘Star Trek’ fans before you joined ‘Discovery?’
MOUNT: [‘Star Trek’] was our go-to make-believe game when I was eight years old.
MOUNT: Yeah, we’d play ‘Star Trek.’ We’d take our turn playing who would get to play Kirk and Spock…
PECK: What? I didn’t know this!
TREKCORE: Nobody wanted to play Pike?
MOUNT: Uh, no. [Laughs] Pike really only existed in flashback in the syndicated version; nobody really knew “The Cage” [at that time].
PECK: We just worked with Jonathan Frakes [on Episode 209] and like, my big childhood ‘Star Trek’ content was “First Contact,” and I was just like, “Wow, that’s full circle!” But I’m a big science fiction fan in general, and ‘Star Trek’ definitely falls [in that category]. I’m becoming a very big ‘Trek’ fan.
Peck is the third actor to play the role of an adult Spock — several others, notably Jacob Kogan in the 2009 Trek film, have played him as children — and we wondered how he developed his performance in the wake of actors Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto.
TREKCORE: This being the youngest we’ve seen Spock – besides “The Cage” – did you take any influence from either Leonard Nimoy or Zachary Quinto’s performances as the character?
PECK: Yeah, absolutely, [I studied] Nimoy specifically; definitely tried to internalize what I saw on screen and what he’s doing. There’s a musicality to his voice, the way he speaks – I definitely tried to capture the spirit of him, and then, you know, transpose it into the material I’ve been given, which is very different.
You never see Spock go deep into his personal life [in the Original Series], you don’t see him go deep beneath the surface much – and in this season of Discovery, you will.
QUESTION: What’s one of your favorite things about playing the Spock character at this age?
PECK: The freedom to invent his past, in a way, both emotionally and logically.
The big unanswered question to be addressed in Discovery’s second year is the relationship between Spock and Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), something that’s been danced around in such episodes as “Lethe,” centering on the schism that developed between Sarek (James Frain) and Spock due to Burnham’s entrance into their family.
TREKCORE: Is there anything you can tell us about Spock’s relationship with Burnham, what’s explored this season?
PECK: It’s very complex, and not in the most easy way.
We also had a chance to have brief conversation with series lead Sonequa Martin-Green, and her’s what she had to say about the Spock/Burnham relationship:
TREKCORE: How much did you know about Burnham’s relationship with Spock coming into this season, and how does that play out as Spock becomes a bigger part of the Discovery story?
SONEQUA MARTIN-GREEN: I knew quite a bit about it towards the end of Season One, and definitely coming into Season Two. I had created my own [backstory], and then things were really rounded out for me.
It is a very complicated relationship, and what’s beautiful is that it’s explored in a very courageous way. It’s explored in a way that is not easy. It’s explored in a way that is very ugly, but very true, and very raw. I know people aren’t going to expect just how complicated our relationship is – and yes, we’re exploring it in every way.
Prior to its rescue from archival oblivion in the late 1980s, fans of the Original Series really only knew Captain Christopher Pike from his appearance in “The Menagerie,” as an injured and deformed former Starfleet officer who had such devoted loyalty from Spock that the Vulcan nearly ended his career trying to take him back to Talos IV.
TREKCORE: What about the relationship between Spock and Pike? In “The Menagerie,” we see Spock’s loyalty is so deep that he almost ends his Starfleet career getting Pike back to the Talosians – do we see much of that devotion in Discovery?
MOUNT: There’s a moment in the first episode of the season, where I’m talking to Burnham – she has questions about where Spock is – and I mention a little bit about what he’s been going through. At a certain point, she asks me what it’s all about, and I say, “[He] didn’t want to talk to me.”
There’s just so much packed into that one line – [Spock] didn’t want to share with me, he didn’t want to tell me. Rather than, “I ordered him and he ignored it,” or “He didn’t come to my office…” There’s a real friendship at work here.
PECK: And I think that illuminates the dignity of Spock, too. He sort of hides his shame from someone that he respects and admires.
TREKCORE: So even with their friendship, Spock wouldn’t open up to him about this situation.
PECK: As a Vulcan, you know, yeah, it would be kind of intolerable [for Spock].
Finally, we wondered just how much of Spock we’ll get to see this year — while Peck’s casting in the role was announced just in August, Star Trek: Discovery had been filming for several months prior.
TREKCORE: Are you able to tell us how many episodes you appear in this season?
PECK: I don’t think I can – but you’ll see a lot of me, for sure.
Keep coming back to TrekCore for more from New York Comic Con, as we’ve got plenty more Star Trek: Discovery interviews coming from the rest of the cast!