‘Strange New Worlds’ cast members play Capt. Pike, Uhura, Nurse Chapel
LAS VEGAS — Rebecca Romijn has tackled the challenge of playing a character Majel Barrett portrayed in the first “Star Trek” pilot: Number One, the Enterprise first officer.
“Well, of course, it starts with Majel,” Ms. Romijn told fans in late August at Creation Entertainment’s 56-Year Mission Convention at Bally’s in Las Vegas.
“But there was only a total of 13 minutes of screen time for Majel as Number One,” said Ms. Romijn, who portrays the same character on “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.”
Ms. Romijn, who talked to fans during a panel that featured key actors from the “Strange New World” cast, said the mid-1960s pilot episode “The Cage” simply showed Number One performing tasks. “She was not a fleshed-out character.
“I took whatever I could from her performance to infuse the character, but moving forward, I took artistic liberties and expanded it,” Ms. Romijn said.
“Strange New Worlds” premiered this year and has been praised by fans for its episodic approach and a return in tone to the original “Star Trek” series.
The entire first season can be watched on the Paramount+ streaming service.
The second season of “Strange New Worlds” was filmed this year and is scheduled to stream on Paramount+ next year. Carol Kane joined the cast for the second season’s new recurring role of Pelia, an engineer.
The first season established that Ms. Romijn’s character, Number One or Una Chin-Riley, is an Illyrian. Her people have made genetic modifications to themselves that Starfleet opposes because of Earth’s tragic experience with the Eugenics War.
“Strange New Worlds” is examining the prejudice that lingers in the Federation against the genetically enhanced, and Ms. Romijn said the storyline reminds her of when she played Mystique, the shape-shifting mutant in the “X-Men” movies.
She and Anson Mount, who portrays Capt. Christopher Pike in “Strange New Worlds, first played their characters on “Star Trek: Discovery” before the crew of Discovery traveled from the 23rd century to a thousand years into the future.
When asked if he was inspired by Jeffrey Hunter’s portrayal of Capt. Pike in “The Cage,” Mr. Mount said, without missing a beat, “I’m a big believer in stealing.”
The fans laughed.
“I watched ‘The Cage’ and ‘The Menagerie,’” Mr. Mount said. (“The Cage” didn’t air during the original run of “Star Trek,” but creator Gene Roddenberry expanded the story into the two-part “Menagerie” episode, combining “The Cage” with new footage.)
A longtime “Star Trek” fan, Mr. Mount said he’s amazed he’s on a “Star Trek” series. “To realize I’m doing that is so surreal and makes me feel fortunate as an actor in a way that I’ve never felt that way before.”
One of the most iconic characters in “Star Trek” — Spock — is played by Ethan Peck, the grandson of legendary movie star Gregory Peck.
When asked about the weight of playing the character made famous by actor Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Peck said he needs time to process that.
“Ask me that again in 10 years,” he said. “I’m just experiencing it and having the experiences written for me on the set. I’m incredibly grateful. It’s the adventure of a lifetime.”
Portraying another character first played by Ms. Barrett is Jess Bush, the Australian actress who portrays nurse Christine Chapel.
Ms. Bush said she looked at Ms. Barrett’s portrayal for inspiration and said she picked up on the character’s sarcastic, dry nature. “I pulled that and used that to generate what she is now.”
The young version of another iconic character, Uhura, is portrayed by Celia Rose Gooding.
Like Nichelle Nichols, the actress who originally Uhura, Ms. Gooding has a background in music and dance.
“Nichelle was a dancer. You could see it in her posture, how she sits, how she reaches for stuff,” said Ms. Gooding, who has performed on Broadway.
She said she didn’t know she was auditioning for the iconic role when she appeared at an audition. She was told the character had a different name.
Then finally, Ms. Gooding was getting a ride on Uber when her casting director called her and told her the news.
“He said, ‘I don’t know if anyone called to tell you yet, but you’re playing a young Uhura,’” Ms. Gooding said. “I screamed so loud!”
Her scream surprised her driver, but she explained she had just received the greatest news of her life.
Ms. Nichols, who recruited women and minorities to become astronauts, died July 30 at age 89 at her home in Silver City, N.M.
“I feel her presence everywhere,” Ms. Gooding said. “Anybody who had the opportunity to meet Nichelle knows how warm and loving she was. She gave so much of herself to this franchise.
“I’m just happy to be a fraction of her legacy.”