In Star Trek: Discovery, Paul Stamets isn't just carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders; he’s bearing the strain of several different universes. On the flip side, the actor who plays Stamets, the wildly talented Anthony Rapp, is far more relaxed than his intense Trek counterpart. Talking to Rapp is like talking to someone in your inner-nerd circle, the guy who you’ve traded comic books with for years. He’s sweet, smart, and most of all, when it comes to fandoms, he gets it.
**SPOILER ALERT: There are spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, Episode 5 "Saints of Imperfection" below.**
SYFY WIRE spoke to Rapp ahead of the debut of Star Trek: Discovery’s latest episode, “Saints of Imperfection," which marks one of the biggest creative decisions in the series' short history. Here’s what he had to say about keeping secrets, the return of a beloved character, and what might be next for Stamets this season and beyond.
Obviously, this episode is a big deal because of the return of Wilson Cruz as Culber. How hard has it been keeping secrets on Star Trek?
Anthony Rapp: It’s been fun honestly! I’ve never really been a part of anything like this, at least when it comes to spoilers. I’ve never been a regular on a TV show and I’ve never had to worry about spoilers before this. I’m a very anti-spoiler person as a consumer, so I like keeping secrets. My experience of seeing things is helped by knowing very little of them. I went to see Roma a couple weeks ago, and all I knew is that Alfonso Cuaron directed it, and that was plenty for me. I like keeping secrets.
Now, in the case of Wilson coming back, because there was such — understandable — outcry, it became clear that we needed to let people know he was coming back. People were upset! Which I can understand. But, I have no interest in telling people how he’s coming back and why he’s coming back, it was fun for me to keep that secret. Why would they want to know? It would take away from the fun of the story and letting it reveal itself.
I mean, Twitter, we have people still come after us, even in the last couple days before those pictures were released [of Wilson Cruz] people have said: “Are they lying to us?” I get it, people are cynical and think they’re getting spin. But I’ve never lied to anyone about anything on Twitter! I’m not lying! I kept saying #Patience to people. But people are impatient. I get it. Fans are passionate, they want to know. I get that instinct. But at the same time, just relax, step back and trust us.
How much did you and Wilson Cruz get to shape your onscreen romance? How much of that is your input?
I didn’t personally feel the need for much input! The writing is pretty good! Whenever I would get a script I’d say, "Oh this is good." I’ve always felt very taken care of by the writers. I haven’t really felt the need for input. If I’d received a script where I felt that things had gone sideways in a way that didn’t ring true, I would have spoken up. But, I’ve never felt the need to do that.
In this episode, Stamets finds out that his life’s work — the Spore Drive — might be harmful to these alien creatures. It’s rare we see super-geniuses on TV admit that they’re wrong. How did you approach playing to this idea? Was it hard?
I’ve always felt like Stamets is very responsive to biology. He’s incredibly confident and has a really strong opinion about things, but I don’t think he’d ever try to bend anything to his will. He’s always trying to find ways to make it work. I think it’s confronting and upsetting, yes. But at the same time I think it’s just a natural instinct to go, "Wow, if this is true, I need to make this right." So, I thought somebody like Stamets who is always going to try and respond to information and data, that he’d try to find the best path. He would try to make it right. He’s driven to a solution.
How long will you be Paul Stamets on Star Trek?
As long as they’ll have me. As long as the stories are engaging and interesting and fun. As long as there are good people. I’m having a blast. I don’t know what their plans are. I don’t know how many years they want to do this and I don’t want to know. With this season, episode-to-episode, I didn’t want to know what happened next. It’s not helpful to me to play the moment if I know the moment before it comes. So, I’m a very open book about all of this.
I’m ready to see what they’re going to throw my way. I mean, there are some really interesting ways in which the next several episodes unfold for Stamets that I find personally very interesting, and it’s really cool and it gets to an interesting point at the end of the season and I’m very, very curious to see where it’s going to pick up as we go forward. But I have no idea. I mean if they made me really bland, I might want to leave. But I don’t see that happening.
What’s the best thing about being on Star Trek?
Well, I grew up watching Star Trek, Star Wars, and reading comics and reading Ursula K. Le Guin. I have such a deep relationship and appreciation for the fantastic, but I never envisioned myself in those things. I always thought I’d be a consumer of it. It’s really insane to me that I’m part of it. But at the same time, I feel very at home.