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Star Trek: Discovery addresses Spock timeline and diversity casting at the TCAs
Fans have been eager for Star Trek: Discovery to dig deep into the origins of legendary character Spock for some time now, and judging by a tease of what's to come, it seems as though it will be well worth the wait.
During a panel at the 2019 Winter TCAs on Wednesday, Executive Producers Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin discussed the Vulcan character as well as diversity casting on the series, along with actors Anson Mount (Pike), Sonequa Martin-Green (Michael), and Spock himself, played by Ethan Peck.
Kurtzman kicked things off by addressing whether the show will run into timeline problems when fleshing out the character for the show, saying the "gray area of not knowing what happened to Spock" [post the original series episode "The Cage"] creates an "amazing opportunity" for the writers.
"The Cage" was the first pilot for the series, where Spock appeared as the science officer on the USS Enterprise, though it was not shown on television at the time. The events of the episode were later shown in the two-part episode "The Menagerie" of the first season, and Spock's previous 11 years of service on the Enterprise were described.
Kurztman teased: "This season explores a lot of detail previously not established. That being said, we know in order for Trek to live on, we need to find ways to operate outside of canon and create new canon."
Talking about preparing for the role, actor Peck admitted it was a "huge responsibility" as well as a "burden" to get it just right. "I pushed it with a lot of love and care,” he explained. “I spent a lot of time with [Leonard] Nimoy’s performance because of the Prime timeline."
Kurtzman added of Peck's performance: "One thing we can say, what Ethan brings to it... when you see him it will be different to what is expected."
The conversation then moved on to the diversity casting of their show, which the producers credited to original creator Gene Roddenberry. Kurtzman said Roddenberry had the “foresight to create a crew entirely colorblind,” explaining: "It was an incredible statement without saying anything at all. When casting, we adhere to that in every way.”
Sonequa Martin-Green added that the show is now taking Roddenberry’s legacy even further with representation, saying that franchise will always build on innovation. "Showing people different from us and showing them as best versions of themselves. Not just about seeing people of color, or an Asian female captain, but seeing them be integral and sacrificial to the group," she explained.
Elsewhere, Kurtzman discussed The Shape of Water star Doug Jones’ role as Lt. Saru, who he described as being a “miracle of a human." He said: "So much of the character was concept design, and then the dream was to get Doug Jones. First day on the pilot, he brings so much life and humor and love to the character."
Executive producer Heather Kadin finished the panel by revealing that the second season will see the Discovery crew get to explore "a lot more emotion" than we've seen before. While Kurtzman also teased more alien characters on the horizon, stating: "Every season, I ask our amazing prosthetics team to come up with five new creatures."
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