5-Time ‘Trek’ Guest Star Hannah Spear Talks Siranna, Dr. Issa, Comedy, & Conventions

Hannah Spear and Doug Jones

ViacomCBS Hannah Spear and Doug Jones in a scene from the "Star Trek: Short Treks" episode, "The Brightest Star."

Hannah Spear is enjoying her time on the Final Frontier. The Canadian actress and comedian made her “Star Trek” debut as Siranna, the Kelpien younger sister of the “Star Trek: Discovery” character Saru (Doug Jones), in the “Star Trek: Short Treks” installment, “The Brightest Star.” She subsequently played Siranna in the second-season “Discovery” episodes “The Sound of Thunder” and “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2,” according to Memory Alpha, and then returned to “Discovery” the following season to portray another Kelpien character, Doctor Issa, in the episodes “Terra Firma, Part 1” and “That Hope Is You, Part 2.”

Spear is scheduled to be a guest at Creation Entertainment’s 56-Year Mission event, a mega-“Star Trek” convention that will run August 25-28, 2022, at the Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. She will join several “Discovery” co-stars on a panel during the convention, and will have a Coolwaters Productions table at which she’ll pose for pictures and sign autographs all weekend long. Heavy spoke with Spear on August 16, 2022, via Zoom for an exclusive conversation in which she shared her love for “Star Trek,” looked back at her roles on “Discovery,” and discuss her ongoing comedy work with the famed Second City troupe in Toronto.

Spear Grew Up in Canada Watching “The Next Generation” with Her Mother

Hannah Spear

ViacomCBSHannah Spear as Siranna in the “Discovery” episode “The Sound of Thunder.”

How and why are you an actor?

I was in my first play when I was around six years old. It was “Twelve Dancing Princesses.” My mom helped me learn my lines. I learned not only my lines but I learned everyone else’s lines in the play, too. I got addicted to being the center of attention. Most actors love it. And I loved being someone else, getting to pretend, escape a little bit, and be a queen… even though I was a six-year-old girl.

You were on “Sexy Nerd Girl” and “Versus Valerie,” online shows that were ahead of their time. How at home are you in that world of science fiction, cosplaying, AR, and gaming?

Totally. I love science fiction a lot. I am a “Star Trek” fan myself, and my parents loved it, so I grew up watching it as well. “Alien” is one of my favorite movies. I had never been to a Comic-Con before doing “Sexy Nerd Girl” and “Versus Valerie,” but we did go to a bunch. We did it for the sexy girl blogs. I interviewed people and I actually cosplayed, as other characters, obviously. It’s very fun. It’s such an accepting world. Science fiction is so hopeful. It can also be very critical of our time, even though things are happening far in the future. Again, it’s why I love acting, because it’s an escape. I also love science fiction, because it’s a bit of an escape and full of imagination.

How deep was your appreciation of “Star Trek”? What was your in for the franchise?

My mom is a “Next Generation” fan. She was obsessed with and loves Patrick Stewart. We’d sit and watch it together; she’d be like, “Ah, Jean-Luc!” She loved “Voyager.” We’d sit and watch that. She’d say, “Ah, Chakotay!” My favorite is actually “Deep Space Nine.” I love it. They’re all fun. I love Quark, Odo, Sisko, and Dr. Bashir. That’s my “Star Trek.

It’s interesting that you chose the male characters and not the females, because a lot of women love Dax and Kira.

It’s so true. I do love Jadzia, obviously, and I do love Kira, but I am a comedian, too. I currently work at The Second City. Quark is the clown of the show. I find him funny. I also find it impressive that an actor with that much prosthetics and teeth could be so funny and charming. I love him so much.

How did you land “The Brightest Star”?

They knew that they wanted to do all these shorts while teasing the season. So, I was filming “The Brightest Star” and “The Sound of Thunder” simultaneously. Like any other audition, you get a script and you get what we call sides. For “Star Trek,” the sides had always been generic because they like to keep things quiet. There was one scene that I did. I must have done it four times, four different parts. I didn’t know what they were, and I never heard anything. Eventually, I got an audition that was actual scenes with this character, Siranna, and I was so excited. I got it the night before, and I only had about 10 hours to prepare. I stayed up well into the night, drilling lines. I thought she was so badass. I watched the first season and loved Saru. I was such a fan of Doug’s work. And I thought, “I have to play her.” It’s interesting. In the first version of the episode, or at least the scenes that I got, she was much more of a warrior. In the episode, she’s a lot softer, and she eventually becomes a warrior. That was fun. I remember riding my bike to the audition, and I was listening to the “Black Panther” soundtrack because it’s almost like you’re a galloping horse. There’s so much power to it. That put me in the zone.

Spear Calls Co-Star Doug Jones the “Most Generous Human” She’s Ever Met 

What kind of a scene partner was Doug Jones?

I’ve never met an actor like Doug. He is the most generous human I’ve ever met, and it’s authentic. He means it. You meet a lot of people in this industry, whom you can tell that they have a bit of a facade on and it drops when they’re talking to certain people on the crew, but Doug treats everyone the same, from Sonequa (Martin-Green) to a PA. He is the kindest man. He’s brilliant, as we all know. He’s an Oscar winner. He’s brilliant in his prosthetics. I would just watch him, and I’d also watch what he did when he wasn’t in front of the camera. He would be quiet and conserve a lot of energy, because it takes a lot of energy to be in that stuff all day, let alone act with it on, too. He was amazing, and he gave me lots of pointers. He was generous with advice, and welcoming. I remember the first day I was even doing my prosthetics test, he made a point to come into the trailer and meet me. He said, “You’re my sister! Oh my gosh, welcome!” I felt intimidated coming to the set, because it’s such a huge franchise and I watched it as a kid. Him making a point of coming in, it took a little bit of that anxiety away.

Was the makeup your friend or foe?

I wouldn’t say I hated it. It made things easier for me because you’re playing an alien on an alien planet. When you look in the mirror and you don’t look anything like yourself at all – you don’t even look like a human – it is way easier to play pretend and get into the mindset of a species who are fearful. That was the other thing, too. The writing was so great and rich. Siranna always looked like a sweet little turtle, so I pictured her as such. She had this fierceness within her, but she did have a bit of this wanting to show or hide. I loved the makeup. I thought it was so beautiful, and your work starts from the second you get in the chair. You have the luxury then to just sit and think. I would imagine her backstory while they put makeup on me. That was great.

You must have done something right because they brought you back to play Siranna again in “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2” and then Dr. Issa in “Terra Firma, Part 1” and “That Hope Is You, Part 2.” Did they say, “You did a great job. Are you interested in this?”

Yeah, they asked me to come back. So flattering. Knowing how to work in the prosthetics and having a rapport with the team was probably helpful as well. The Dr. Issa character was a small part, but she had this beautiful monologue about being a mother and having to let her son go. I was very grateful for that.

Spear Played Two Different Kelpien Characters on ‘Discovery’

Hannah Spear as Dr. Issa

ViacomCBSHannah Spear as Dr. Issa on ‘Star Trek: Discovery.’

The characters were of the same species and looked similar. How did you go about differentiating them for yourself and the audience?

Siranna, because Saru is her older brother, she felt like a teenager who was coming into her own, even though she’s probably hundreds of years old. Dr. Issa… she’s a scientist. There’s a section of an episode where she’s telling her son about all the different species on that planet and how things work. To me, she had much more of a knowing quality and maturity. We had the luxury of knowing that she’s speaking from the beyond, since she comes to them as a hologram, so there’s something to her knowing that she’s not going to be around, and having to be strong for her son. I found there was a lot more stoicism there, as opposed to Siranna, who’s figuring out what her new place would be.

You’re going to be at Creation Entertainment’s 56-Year Mission next week…

I’m so excited. When I think about it, I almost get emotional because it’s going to be a huge moment. I just can’t believe it. I’m even excited to be there as a fan. I’m excited to see who’s going to be there, and I can’t wait to meet the folks who love “Discovery.” There is even a part of me that is like, “Is anyone gonna come to my booth?” I’m feeling a little shy about that, but also excited to be in that energy. With the pandemic the past couple of years, I do think people will be pumped to be there. It did happen last year, but maybe more people will be attending this year.

You’ll be at the Coolwaters Productions charity event. What can you tell us about that?

I heard that they do it every year. There are going to be some VIP guests there. It’s going to be an intimate social event for the fans. And it’s a great fundraiser.

What else are you working on?

Currently, I perform six nights a week at The Second City in Toronto, which is a comedy theater where the likes of Eugene Levy, Mike Myers, and John Candy all got their start. I do live shows. If you’re ever in Toronto, come check us out. We just opened our 86th review, which we wrote all by ourselves.

For additional information about The 56-Year Mission, visit www.Creationent.com. Can’t make the event, but want Spears’s autograph? Visit www.coolwatersprods.com.

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