The “Star Trek” fan base fell hard and fast for Anson Mount as Captain Pike, Rebecca Romijn as Number One, and Ethan Peck as Spock on “Star Trek: Discovery” and in several “Star Trek: Short Treks” installments. Fans let it be known on social media that they wanted more, with more meaning a “Star Trek” series devoted to the adventures of Captain Pike, Number One, and Spock aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. Now, here we are, with that show, “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” set to premiere May 5 on Paramount+ and already renewed for a second season.
“It’s been crazy,” Peck said during a group interview with journalists from several outlets, including Heavy, on April 18, 2022. “I, A), can’t believe that I’ve been cast in this role, still. It’s still something very strange to be. And B), that there was such a hunger for a Pike-Enterprise show, which of course Spock can be a part of, is absolutely thrilling. This has been one of the greatest journeys of my life thus far and may remain that way. Who knows? But yeah, I feel so incredibly fortunate and grateful and lucky to be a part of this. It’s insane to me still.”
Leonard Nimoy originated the role of the half-Human/half-Vulcan character, Spock. He played Spock in the first “Star Trek: The Original Series” pilot, “The Cage,” which also starred Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Pike and Majel Barrett, the wife of “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry, as Number One. When NBC ordered a second pilot, Nimoy remained as Spock, but Hunter exited the show, opening the door for William Shatner to play Captain Kirk, and the Number One character was dropped, with Barrett instead cast in the recurring role of Nurse Chapel. Footage from “The Cage” featuring Pike was later used in “The Menagerie” two-part episode of “The Original Series.”
Making Spock His Own While Keeping Nimoy’s Essence
Ethan Peck and Celia Rose Gooding in a scene from “Strange New Worlds.”
Peck — who is the grandson of Hollywood legend Gregory Peck — explained that he’s challenged “every single day” to portray Spock in such a way that he makes the character his own while remaining true to Nimoy’s iteration.
“I’m more comfortable at this point in time with the onus of the character, being the custodian of this character, but I still read things in scripts that I get, where I’m like, ‘I have no idea how I’m going to do this or how it will be true to Spock,’” he said. “What’s fun about him is that he does sort of live within these boundaries. To place him in a scenario that he shouldn’t be in or is uncomfortable, that’s when cool things start to happen with the character, and I hope in my performance of the character. Constantly, I’m revisiting. I say, crazily, Leonard Nimoy’s voice in my head when I’m doing a lot of these scenes. ‘Does this sound right? Does it feel right?’ I constantly am checking in with the spirit of his Spock and I am channeling it as well. There are things that are written for my iteration of Spock that have not been written before. That is my privilege as an actor, and as this Spock.”
Peck made his first physical appearance as Spock on “Star Trek: Discovery” in “Light and Shadows,” the seventh episode of the show’s second season, according to Memory Alpha, and carried through to the end of the season. That was in early 2019. Later that year, in October and November, he played Spock again in the “Short Treks” segments “Q&A” and “Ask Not.” At the time, especially on “Discovery,” Peck was a guest star. Now, on “Strange New Worlds,” he’s one of the leads. From a production perspective, the actor said, the series are night and day.
“Firstly, the shows are so different in so many ways,” Peck said. “The DNA is the same. Gene Roddenberry’s vision I think is very much a part of both shows, which is one of inclusion, of celebration, of diversity, of curiosity, of a harmonious existence between vastly different peoples and ideas. Just by its look, the shows are very different. The tones are different. The colors are different, of the sets and the ships. Our show is episodic, which is something that we’re all really excited about. (Co-creator and executive producer) Akiva Goldsman put it wonderfully. He said, ‘There’s serialized emotion.’ Each episode is its own standalone adventure, which I think is great.
“So often I’m recommended shows by people, but I love to watch film because it’s a contained experience,” he continued. “You can have it in 90 minutes to two and a half hours. It does something wonderful for you, hopefully, if it’s done properly, right? I hope our episodes can be like that for people and will convert fans to our show and into the ‘Star Trek’ universe because there are so many great iterations of it that have already been made and exist, and are ready to be seen.”
Peck Is Learning From Spock
Ethan Peck as Spock in a scene from “Strange New Worlds.”
Three years into his “Star Trek” and Spock experiences, Peck acknowledged that the character has “influenced” him “so much, it’s weird.” When he first auditioned for “Discovery,” he did so not knowing that he was up for the role of Spock. As a result, something he brought of himself to his reading clicked with the producers and convinced them he was the right man for the job.
“I needed to better understand that to become more self-aware, so that I could better control what I’m inputting into this performance,” Peck said. “In doing so, I learned so much about myself. I had to, in my opinion, grow in a really profound way, on a personal level and, therefore, as an actor. With art, your life is so informing of your work. I had to become more than I was. I had to become more clear-headed, better focused, to not be such a hypocrite. We can all be hypocrites in our own ways.
“I feel like Spock has so much integrity,” he added. “I was in awe of that and wanted to become more like that in my own life. We wake up in the morning and we have the opportunity to have whatever thoughts we want. We can do things, but most importantly, we can think. We’re free in our minds, or at least that’s a goal that we should all have. Spock is so good and sharp with his mind. I would say that what I’ve learned most from him is to be more optimal with my thinking, to put it in a very Spock-ian way.”
“Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” will premiere on May 5 on Paramount+.