We’ve seen Vulcans on Star Trek from the very beginning, thanks to the role of Mr. Spock — made famous by the late Leonard Nimoy. Even from what many consider to be Episode Zero of the franchise, the first Trek pilot, “The Cage,” Nimoy was there.
Since those early days, many actors have been cast as Vulcans, including Mark Leonard, who was also the first Romulan. Other notables include Kirstie Alley, Tim Russ, Kim Cattrall, and Zachary Quinto. Each have left their mark on the fictitious race and gave more for the next actor to be cast as Vulcans.
Now, on “Star Trek: Discovery,” a new talent has taken up the mantle of being “the Vulcan” for Star Trek. The Canadian actress Tara Rosling has been on many science fiction shows, including “The Expanse,” the YouTube series “Impulse,” and even “William Shatner’s TekWar.” So the genre is not new for Rosling, even if the mythos of Trek is.
In a recent interview with Trek Report, Rosling talked about how her approach to becoming a Vulcan is divinely inspired and how filming has become difficult thanks to the pandemic.
Tara Rosling as the Vulcan T’Rina
Rosling portrays T’Rina, the president of Ni’Var. This is the planet formerly known as Vulcan. Sometime before the 31st Century, Romulans and Vulcans buried the hatchet and reunited, which caused the planetary name change.
When T’Rina appears on the Discovery Season 3 episode, “Unification III,” she is there to negotiate some technology sharing with the Federation and Ni’Var. The two governments are not on the best of terms.
Being a Vulcan is like Buddhism…
Rosling’s performance was steady and stable in the episode — precisely what you’d expect from a Vulcan. But Rosling told Trek Report that this is very much different from her real personality.
“By nature, I’m a tremendously emotional human being,” Rosling told Trek Report. “And they cast me in this part, that is, driven by the mind. But what is interesting, and what is written into the scripts and, I like following this particular line — it’s not that they don’t have emotions. They’ve cultivated the ability to override emotion and move to logic.”
To accomplish this feat, Rosling thought of Vulcans in the same way some think of Buddhist monks. As a Buddhist attempts to give up desire, a Vulcan attempts to give up emotion. Both are supremely challenging.
“I see it almost as practicing Buddhism,” said Rosling in the interview. “It’s detaching from the things that cause you to have an emotional reaction. I can process things that way because I don’t think that I would ever be able to turn off my emotions. In the season, T’Rina and the Vulcans appear in a state of meditation.”
She noted that the directors have created a term to remind her that T’Rina is getting too impassioned.
“I will tell you that the most frequent direction that I get on set is ‘vulcanize it,’” Rosling told Trek Report. “That means take a little more emotion out.”
Zachary Quinto Struggled Too
Humans playing Vulcans often experience this. Zachary Quinto told the Associated Press that it may have been the most challenging part of playing Spock in the Kelvin Trek films.
“To feel and to create a charged internal emotional life and to have to hold it, to have to hold both ends of it and really not give any of it away, that for me, who’s a pretty emotive person in my life, was a challenge,” Quinto said in a 2009 interview.
Rosling said that fans may expect to see her character on-screen “more than I would have anticipated.”
Discovery Set on Hiatus
As of the interview, “Discovery” was on hiatus caused by a sick crew member. Rosling told Trek Report that “there have been a bunch of hiatuses because that’s what happens when you shoot in a pandemic.”
“Of course, they are doing their best to keep everyone safe,” Rosling told Trek Report. “There’s an actual COVID testing station on the lot. And everybody gets tested; like cast and crew and admin[istration] are tested three times a week. But even still, there are positive cases, and production has to pivot around that.”
‘Star Trek’ Changes Everything
Even though Rosling has been active in the theater and on television for years, her role on “Star Trek: Discovery” is the first which might get her recognized in public. She signed with the Coolwaters Productions management and PR firm, who have counseled her on what that might look like.
“I’m up for the adventure,” Rosling told Trek Report. “This all, to me, seems very much to be an adventure, and I’m willing to try it out. I have no idea what it will be like.”