Christina Chong Has a Khan-Do Attitude about ‘Strange New Worlds’

Christina Chong

ViacomCBS Christina Chong in a scene from 'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.'

Christina Chong is adding “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” to a filmography that, according to the Internet Movie Database, already includes “Chemical Wedding,” “Freakdog,” “Doctor Who,” “Black Mirror,” Halo: Nightfall,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Heirs of the Night,” “Dominion,” and “Of Kings and Prophets.” One might assume, based on her credits, that the British actress seeks out sci-fi and other genre fare. However, during a recent telephone interview with Heavy on Star Trek, she explained that that’s not quite the case.

“To be honest with you… Listen, I take the jobs when I get them,” Chong said. “It’s just weird that a lot of them have all been in the sci-fi genre. I take the jobs I get. I’m not at that position yet where I can pick and choose. If it’s a good role, I like to think that the roles come to you. If it’s meant for you, you’ll get it. It just happens that those characters have resonated with whatever’s going on in my life. I always tend to find that whatever I’m experiencing, my character will also be experiencing something similar. It’s funny how it works.”

Meet La’an in Her ‘Strange New Worlds’ Promo Video

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The latest “Star Trek” show in an ever-growing galaxy of them, “Strange New Worlds” casts Chong as La’an Noonien-Singh, a distant relative of the classic “Star Trek” villain, Khan Noonien Singh, played by Ricardo Montalban on “Star Trek: The Original Series” and “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” La’an serves as chief of security aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise under the command of Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount). When viewers first meet La’an, she has something to prove and a chip on her shoulder. During her conversation with Heavy on Star Trek, Chong discussed how La’an will loosen up over time, whether she’s fated to resemble Khan, and what it’s like to see her face plastered on billboards and posters and busses.

How does being around good Starfleet people like Pike, Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), Spock (Ethan Peck), Dr. M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun), etc., help La’an let her guard down? I assume she gets comfortable with this crew over time, right?

Yeah, she does. She’s forced to push herself a little bit at the beginning. She starts thinking about it. She sees Uhura after a long time, so she’s slowly opening up there, but it’s only when she’s faced with her fear in episode four, her biggest fear. You put that wall up to protect yourself from it ever happening again. Guess what? It happens again, or almost happens again. The fear is more the idea of it, not the actual thing happening. If you’ve ever jumped out of a plane, the buildup to jumping out of the plane is absolutely terrifying. Oh, my God, the thought of it. If somebody says, “Do you want to come jump out of the plane with me”? and “You’d be like, ‘No, thank you very much.’” Once you’ve let go, and once you actually jump, there are those two seconds where you’re like, “Oh, my God, where am I? What am I doing?” Then, once you’re there in the position, it’s like you’re flying. It’s the most incredible feeling ever.

It’s more the idea of the fear than it is the actual experience…

Once she’s gone through that, she then realizes, “Ah, okay, These people are with me in this.” Then she starts to see how they are her family. They’re going to be by her side. They’re going to have her back. Slowly, after that experience, in episode four, that’s when she starts to respond more to their gentle probing and pushing.

Fate versus free will is a major issue on the show. What are your feelings about that as it applies to La’an?

Obviously, my thoughts are different, but with La’an, I think she is trying to control everything so much because of what she’s been through and trying to not allow the trauma to happen again, for her past to repeat. She’s more of a free-will person. She’s trying to control it, or she believes that she can control it all to some extent. Later on — I can’t talk about that yet — but she will start to think differently. As it is, in this series, it’s about controlling things because of the fear that she has.

A Noonien-Singh is the Enterprise’s Chief of Security

Christina Chong as La'an

ViacomCBSChristina Chong as La’an Noonien-Singh in a scene from ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.’

How are you enjoying working with this cast and crew?

Oh my God, seriously, I couldn’t have asked for a better cast and crew. They’re all amazing. We just have so much fun. We were working with a director on season two the other day. It was on a Saturday. I suddenly thought afterward, “Oh my God.” It felt a bit like school when you can come dressed in your own clothes. It’s not really a workday, but it is. We were just having so much fun. I was like, “Oh, are we having too much fun?” I felt bad for the director because we were just messing around and laughing. We were doing the work, but around that we were having a laugh. Everyone is super lovely, kind, and welcoming.

Joining the “Star Trek” franchise means your face will be on billboards, magazine covers, and comic books, etc. There will be action figures and conventions. How exciting and/or scary is all of that?

I’ve tried to block all of that out because I can’t conceive of it in my head. Do you know what I mean?

Yes, but it’s here. It’s happening.

Melissa (Navia) is based in New York. She went down to Union Square, and she sent this video (taken in the subway station). I was like, “Wow.” It’s weird. I’m looking forward to the conventions. I like meeting new people and talking to people who are so passionate about the show. I love all of that stuff. I’m looking forward to that. I’ve done a couple of “Doctor Who” conventions, so I know what that is, but it’ll be exciting to see what the reaction will be to “Star Trek.”

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