On Saturday, October 9, the cast of “Star Trek: Discovery” gathered on the Empire Stage at the Javits Center in New York City to discuss the upcoming season. Sonequa Martin-Green (Captain Michael Burnham), Mary Wiseman (Ensign Sylvia Tilly), Blu de Barrio (Adira), David Ajala (Cleveland Booker), Wilson Cruz (Dr. Hugh Culber), Anthony Rapp (Lieutenant Paul Stamets), and Michelle Paradise (co-showrunner) talked about what it was like to film during a pandemic, how the crew of the Discovery is adapting to its new captain, and what’s in store for season four.
During that discussion, Cruz revealed a bit about the role Dr. Culber will take on in season four and what inspired his performance.
Dr. Culber Takes on the Crew’s Mental Health
The panel’s moderator, Karama Horne, also known as The Blerd Gurl, asked Cruz about how the crew will deal with the ongoing trauma presented by their jobs in the fourth season, especially since they already dealt with so much trauma in the third season.
Cruz said that Dr. Culber would continue to take on the role of ship’s counselor, which he started doing in season three. He added that trauma can sometimes be an opportunity for growth.
“I’ll steal a line from the great Dr. Culber,” Wilson said. “We’re going to be okay, but we have to first admit that we’re not so that we can get to the solution. We talk so much about post-traumatic stress, but we don’t talk enough about this theory that exists about post-traumatic growth. That these traumatic experiences, especially traumatic experiences that we experience collectively, can lead us to a different place, can make us stronger if we’re willing to face the actual issue.”
Cruz continued, saying that the characters in “Discovery” are still learning who they are and how they fit in with the crew. He said that this trauma they’re going through and how they choose to deal with it will shape them.
Later in the panel, he said that Culber will continue to help his crewmates through these traumas by caring for their mental health as well as their physical health.
Cruz Was Inspired by Healthcare Workers
Cruz went on to say that his portrayal of Culber this season was really inspired by the healthcare workers that have been working on the frontlines during the pandemic. He said that Dr. Culber’s big struggle this season will be taking care of his own well-being while taking care of the well-being of the crew. To figure out how to authentically bring that to his performance, he looked to healthcare providers in the real world. He said:
Like many of our medical officers and therapists and psychologists in our world right now, they are not only dealing with the anxiety that their patients are bringing them, but they’re also dealing with their own reality. They’re living under these circumstances as well. So, throughout this season I really thought about all of our nurses and all of our doctors and all of our therapists, who have helped us through this incredibly uncertain moment in time. And who are struggling themselves.
A few minutes later, Martin-Green said that she’d also been inspired by the essential workers during the pandemic. She said that Starfleet is all about honor and duty, and there’s nothing more honorable than performing your duties in the face of danger, to help people that you don’t know. She continued, saying that working during the pandemic made them all extremely grateful for those who kept doing their jobs, at great risk to themselves. The other actors onstage nodded in agreement.
The fourth season of “Discovery” premieres on November 18, 2021, on Paramount+.
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