Words: Darren Scott
Warning: Spoilers for season one of 'Star Trek: Discovery' follow...
If you’ve seen season one of Star Trek: Discovery – and now’s your last chance to get away from those pesky spoilers if not – you might not really be expecting the relationship between Stamets and Culber to be progressed that much in season two.
But fans of the gay couple are in for a treat, with actors Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz promising yet more of their epic love story. We caught up with the actors in New York to talk about the future of our favourite space couple...
What did you guys think of your Attitude cover last year?
Wilson Cruz: It was SO cute. I loved that photo you chose for the cover. It was fantastic, we’re really happy with it.
What was the response from fans seeing their favourite couple get the cover?
Wilson: The response was fantastic. The fans in the UK have been really outspoken and really passionate. It’s been really wonderful. But overall the response to this relationship has been really overwhelming.
What can you tell us about season two and where the relationship can possibly go?
Wilson: What I love about this season and storyline is that after what happened last season, it could’ve been very easy for us to put a bandaid on it, now he’s alive and happily go back to normal. What I love about what the writers have chosen to do is that there’s real consequences to what happened and they’re played out in the storyline. And because of that we really get to know these two people. Who they are to each other, but also who they are individually. And I think that’s really expecting. It’s been fun to play.
Anthony Rapp: There’s scientific basis on the fantastical elements of how he is able to come back. In terms of, in the physical universe energy doesn’t die it transforms. The nature of mycelium is that they recycle matter and energy. They are nature’s recyclers. So he’s in the mycelium network – how did he wind up there? These questions sort of get addressed and answered in a way.
Wilson: Which is why we find him where we left him.
Anthony: It’s taken seriously. Yes, it is fantastical in a way, but it’s also rooted in things that do connect up with some scientific explanations.
Wilson: As so much of our show is.
Isn’t it kind of heartbreaking that he’s there, but not really there?
Wilson: Yeah! Doesn’t that make great TV?!
Anthony: You’ll see. Trust us.
Is there an obsession with you trying to find him or bring him back?
Anthony: One of the questions – I don’t think this is spoilery – when I go in the mycelium network I may or may not see him. And do I even want to? Because don’t I also need to let him go? To me it’s profoundly dealt with in a really meaningful way.
Wilson: We promised you guys an epic love story last season and we’re doing our very best to deliver that, for sure. And I promise you, just based on what we’ve already done, we’ve taken that to a whole other level this season. We haven’t seen a relationship like this. I’ve never had the opportunity to play one. It’s been really satisfying as an actor. I’m excited to get to a point where I can talk about it [laughs]. Because it’s been so incredibly satisfying. I mean, nerve-wracking because you want to get it right. I think we all come to this work and to this series and every episode just wanting to measure up, to live up to the incredible work that our co-stars are doing. We come to it going, ‘God, I want to get this right’ and none of us want to be the weakest link. Least of all me.
What was your take on the notion that Star Trek was ‘burying their gays’?
Wilson: I can promise you that he really did have to go through that in order for us to tell the story that we’re about to tell you. We don’t dismiss it. We don’t act as if it didn’t happen. We extrapolate it in a very real way. We extend the story. And there are consequences. There’s a price to pay. But it’s a really exciting way of learning about this character. Honestly, after doing it I feel like we couldn’t have given a more satisfying answer to the question.
The relationship was taken well by Star Trek fans. Were you surprised that they were so accepting?
Anthony: I wasn’t surprised that they were accepting, but what was nicely surprising that even with what was some ways a very small contained moment of brushing our teeth, how meaningful that was to people. That was a little surprising. We were aware of the first kiss. We were very aware of that. But the teeth brushing scene, I don’t think we were aware of it in that way. Right?
Wilson: I mean, I think we were excited about the fact we were playing a domestic scene. We don’t usually get to see characters in that way.
Anthony: It was a really nice scene and it was meaningful, but it didn’t feel as monumental as it was received. It makes sense that it was, because it was filling a void.
Wilson: Once I watched it at first I thought, ‘Oh, maybe we should’ve kissed in that scene at the end of it’, but after I watched it I thought that was the right choice. It was intimate already and it gave us somewhere to go once the kiss did come. I just loved that it was this normal moment in their lives and we could extrapolate that to what they usually do nightly, that this is part of their routine. I just thought it was really lovely.
Anthony: But it had a major impact right away.
Wilson: It was crazy. That’s the most moving thing to me, the fact that there is a young person who identifies as LGBT and is a person of colour and can turn on the TV and see someone who they can relate to. I remember growing up and not seeing anybody who reflected my life back to me. The fact that I can be that for someone, doesn’t feel like I’m doing something frivolous with my life. I talk to my parents and be like, ‘You know what, I helped affect somebody’s life’.
Star Trek: Discovery season two premieres on CBS Access on 17 January in the US, and on Netflix on 18 January.