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There's a legacy within Star Trek that everyone who works on it now has to carry, a sense of weight that comes from the beloved sci-fi series being part of American pop culture for nearly 60 years now. That weight gets heavier, though, if you're tasked with playing one of the iconic characters who debuted along with the franchise back in 1966. Just ask Ethan Peck, who's taking on whole new dimensions of Spock as part of the new series Strange New Worlds.
Peck first began playing Spock as a guest star on Star Trek: Discovery back in 2019, embodying a prequel version of the character that Leonard Nimoy first introduced in The Original Series and becoming the third actor to play the half-Vulcan science officer in live action. From the beginning, there was pressure to get it right, but speaking to The Hollywood Reporter about his time on Strange New Worlds, Peck explained that the pressure has shifted somewhat now that he's had more time to settle into the character.
"In the beginning, yes, the weight was nearly unbearable, and I wondered if I would be kind of broken by, 'I’m not sure that I quite feel worthy.' I’m still growing into Spock in many ways. And you know, now the pressure isn’t quite as great as it was during Discovery," Peck said.
"I’m trying to have an experience as Spock. I’m not thinking of what the final product will be or how it will look. But I definitely did a bunch of research, and I’m constantly checking in with the voice of Spock in my head. Leonard Nimoy made such an impression on me and that’s with me always. I’m constantly checking in with that."
Peck continued: "Celia [Rose Gooding, who plays Uhura] and I maybe have added pressure because of the characters we’re playing, but at the same time, I think Star Trek is such a beautiful burden for all of us and a heavy one, too. It represents something so special to so many people. It’s hopeful and aspirational and inspiring and curious and accepting. And I think it’s always anecdotal to all of the important things that are happening in the world."
Peck's ability to spend more time with Spock — and with co-stars Anson Mount and Rebecca Romijn — has obviously changed his experience with the character, but the format of Strange New Worlds also lends itself to a new way of doing things. Like The Original Series, Strange New Worlds takes a very episodic format, offering new planets and new adventures for the crew every single week. That means Peck never knows exactly what he's going to get, which keeps him, and Spock, on his toes.
"It’s obvious we are in an episodic format, so each episode is its own adventure, its own world, its own conflict to be overcome by the bridge crew of the Enterprise," Peck said. "The challenges are new every single time, and that’s exciting for me as an actor because I don’t know what’s coming up. Oftentimes, at the beginning of the season of a serialized show, you kind of get an idea of what your character will be going through. And in this case, it’s kind of a surprise where Spock is going. That’s really thrilling."
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds airs Thursdays on Paramount+.
Looking for more sci-fi TV? Check out shows like Resident Alien, Brave New World, Project Blue Book, Eureka, Heroes, Intergalactic, and more streaming now on Peacock. Looking ahead, SYFY has new series The Ark in the works from original Stargate film writer/producer Dean Devlin, as well as Stargate SG-1 producer Jonathan Glassner.