TrekMovie joined a group press interview with the star of the upcoming series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Anson Mount shared his thoughts on what kind of show the new series will be and hinted at what is in store for his Captain Christopher Pike.
Note: The interview contains some minor spoilers and has been edited for brevity and clarity.
What has been the most exciting thing for you in getting to bring Pike to life in this new way?
Several things. On the level of the show, what we wanted to do was reinvigorate that sense of excitement that people got with The Original Series, even to just turn on the TV. Because it wasn’t just about where would the Enterprise end up? It was, where will the Enterprise begin? What new planet are we going to be on? That’s why it’s called Strange New Worlds. And for me, as the guy playing Pike, I wanted to really delve further in. We got to see him lead a crew that was not his own on Discovery. And now we get to see him lead his own crew. And I really wanted to flesh out that tremendous sense of empathy I think he has, which is it goes hand in hand with humility. I think that’s partly what makes him such a good leader and Captain.
How would you describe Pike’s command style with his own crew?
I knew very few things. But I did know that every time a crew member walks through the doors of his office, the most important thing in the room is not Pike. It’s not even necessarily the question. It’s the crew member. He has to care about them above and beyond his own sense of self. That’s why his existential crisis [over learning his fate] at the beginning of the series is not his own fear of death. It’s ‘Can I continue to serve as a captain when I’m dealing with this? Am I going to be able to be responsible for hundreds of people who serve under me dealing with this crisis?’ And how do we as people telling the story, not ignore that, but find a way through that? And that leads into further development of character.
As a fan of The Original Series, you know that the show was rife with allegories and it wasn’t afraid of politics. Do you feel that Strange New Worlds is more or less like that, and does it have a point of view on contemporary issues?
I don’t think it’s our job to have a point of view. I think it’s our job to raise questions. I think a TV show at its best can serve as a metaphorical platform to discuss other stuff that’s going on right now. And you don’t have a discussion if you’re preaching. There’s no way to have a discussion if you’re preaching. The best thing that we can do is to raise questions, look at things in a new facet, shedding a different light on it. And then, entrusting that we’ve done enough work to make it as shiny and interesting an object as possible. And trust that sense of curiosity that leads us to the stars is in our audience and will want to think more about these things.
You had to take up the role others have played before, like Jeffrey Hunter who played Pike in the first pilot. What was it like taking up the mantle of the first recorded Star Trek captain?
While having a tremendous sense of responsibility of that role, I think a lot of people have thought that my greatest challenge is to live up to what has already been laid down. When in reality, if you think about it, not a whole lot was laid down. There’s not a lot of material. And that was a different Pike in a different time of his life. That was a much younger, much more existentially in crisis young captain. And this is second-act Pike. I just follow the writers’ cue. The writers wanted to bring in somebody who’s a little bit more sure in his boots, and deep into his experience. And so I really just followed what they were laying down in the proverbial trail of breadcrumbs. And I continue to follow their cue, even now.
Can you talk about how the wonderful sense of the crew and team on screen has manifested with team-building behind the scenes with the cast?
I’m blessed with a cast full of professional adults with a shared great sense of humor. The greatest joy for me in going to work is getting to hang out with them. It’s hard to express how much fun we have doing the show. In terms of team-building, it’s a very real thing that needs to be paid attention to, especially when shooting in the time of COVID. And I have to say that Rebecca [Romijn] has been the real leader in that regard. She has gone far away beyond the expectations of a cast member and a leader to make sure that everyone is well and comfortable and having a good time. She’s a wonderful hostess. She makes a mean mixed drink. We have a lot of fun together. And her entire family with Jerry [O’ Connell], her husband, has become close with us as well, as has had her two daughters. And so I’ve just been trying to keep up with her.
You have been involved with Star Trek for a while now. What is the most striking thing that has happened with your interactions with the fandom during your time with the franchise?
I have to lead with the most obvious answer which was to see this fan movement to want to make the show happen. It’s changed my life. It goes beyond just another job albeit at a very particularly bad time for actors. But my inclusion in this universe has fleshed out my love of Trek. It’s brought me into the family and culture of Trek, not just the fandom of Trek. It has given me the wherewithal to trust my ability to have a family. It’s given me a lot and I’m very grateful for it. I also think meeting members of NASA and seeing how the show has inspired so many people. Meeting legacy actors like Nichelle Nichols, Bill [Shatner]and…
I don’t know, man. I struggle with words to get across to people how completely fucking weird this is, that I am the captain of the Enterprise. Like, can you imagine? It’s weird. There are only so many times you can say, ‘Why me?’ And then you just have to shrug your shoulders and go ‘Okay, I guess it is me.’ But it doesn’t stop being surreal. And I hope that feeling continues throughout the entire thing because it comes with a tremendous sense of not just luck, but responsibility.
More to come before May 5
TrekMovie will have interviews with more of the Strange New Worlds cast including Ethan Peck, and others in the coming days, so stay tuned. Check out our earlier interview with Rebecca Romijn.
The first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will arrive on May 5.
Find more stories about the Star Trek Universe.