Kelpians may already have a pretty weird visage—it’s not every day you see a lanky creature with unnaturally green eyes and what could pass for a halfway melted humanoid face—but the original design for Star Trek: Discovery Science Officer and Lieutenant Commander Saru was a real eyeful.
The brains behind Discovery’s non-human species recently revealed that Saru was originally supposed to look even more alien. Creature and makeup designers Glenn Hetrick and Neville Page revealed what went into the evolution of Saru in Designing Discovery, a recent Facebook Live in which they discussed the imagination that went into bringing the Star Trek prequel to life.
Page gives an exclusive look at Saru’s design and re-design at around 12:58 with never-before-seen footage that shows a triangular head with 10 eyes that looks like it could have emerged from H.P. Lovecraft’s nightmares.
“Bryan Fuller had this vision of doing a multi-eyed character,” said Page. “It had a specific V shape to it, and what that meant was we needed to come up with something that would have a lot of post-CG augmentation, particularly in the eyes, and we also wanted to change the shape of Doug [Jones’] head so it felt very alien.”
As you watch Doug Jones strike a pose in his fancy headgear, Page admits that he has never been a fan of doing creatures that could see out of more than two eyeballs. He always felt the pressing need to explain a biological reason why they would have the need for so many orbs (which would probably give even the xenobiologists of the Enterprise migraines). It was having Doug Jones as this particular alien that made him optimistic about the character.
“Seeing Doug start to perform through… was the moment I realized we needed more of Doug to perform through,” Page said. This is when the character started to evolve.
Hetrick, who mentioned Hammer horror movies and The Island of Dr. Moreau as some of his influences earlier in the video, agreed that making Jones appear less extraterrestrial not only allowed his performance to come through all that latex but made him more relatable to the Earthlings beaming the show onto their screens.
Watch the designers reflect on this fascinating process right here.