Published: Thursday, 15 June 2023 14:47 | Written by Karen Moul
The second season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds begins today with episode 201, “The Broken Circle.” With Ethan Peck back as Spock and Paul Wesley cast as Kirk, fans are looking forward to the big moment when the franchise’s foremost characters meet for the first time. In the runup to the season, Peck and Wesley sat down with a panel of journalists to talk about playing two legendary characters as young men whose enduring friendship is still in the future.
Peck’s Spock is much younger than the previous versions (played by Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto) and he’s still trying to get to get a handle on his emotions.
“We will see Spock further explore his human side,” Peck told SciFi Vision, “and he does this in various situations and relationships as well. I think it's very apparent in his interactions with Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush). There's a really wonderful situation where Spock can do nothing but face his human-ness that I'm very excited about.”
The pair also talked about their chemistry on and off-screen and gave plenty of insight into what motivates young Spock and Kirk. One writer even got Peck to talk about an early episode that highlights a “secret ability…that my friends don't even know [about].”
Watch the video to learn Peck’s hidden talent!
New episodes of Star Trek Strange: New Worlds are released on Paramount+ each Thursday at 12 am EST through August 17. Watch the interview or read the full transcript below.
QUESTION:So, with Spock and Kirk - or I like to call them Spirk, but I've gotten yelled at at work for doing so - but I love kind of always like how that dynamic is so important to Star Trek when we're telling a story about these two characters. For both of you, what was kind of the joy in like, getting to know it was coming and knowing that there was going to be another Spock and Kirk for audiences to fall in love with and want to follow along with?
PAUL WESLEY:Can we get Spirk tattoos?
ETHAN PECK:That's a great idea.
PAUL WESLEY:Yeah, that's what I was thinking.
ETHAN PECK:Well, we actually got to know each other off-set mostly before getting to know each other on camera as these characters, which was really fun, because I find Paul so easy to get along with and was always very excited to see him. Then, to have sort of that foundational relationship, which I think really supports this strange interaction between these two very different characters that we get to see a little bit of in season two. So, I think it really added a lot of nuance to that moment, the momentous moment that these two characters meet.
PAUL WESLEY:Yeah. You know, similarly, I do think one's relationship with another actor off screen, or your general chemistry, it does actually translate onto the screen. I'm of that belief. So, we do get on quite well, Ethan and I, and Spock and Kirk obviously have this very deep friendship. Again, you know, this is all nascent. Like, we haven't figured this out; the characters don't know how important their relationship is, which is fun, because they're sort of subconsciously, I think, drawn to one another, but they don't really know why.
SCIFI VISION:My question is for Ethan. We've seen a lot of different versions of Spock and takes on Spock from different writers and actors in the Star Trek universe. I think this is the most emotional Spock. It's common to see these emotion episodes, but Spock really is going through some stuff, and I don't think we often get to see Spock acting like a bit like a twelve-year-old. I wonder if you could just talk to our viewers a bit about what we're going to see with Spock emotionally this season. Thank you.
ETHAN PECK:We will see Spock further explore his human side, and he does this in various situations and relationships as well. I think it's very apparent in his interactions with Nurse Chapel. Yeah, there's a really wonderful situation where Spock can do nothing but face his human-ness that I'm very excited about.
QUESTION:I really enjoyed when Kirk and Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) got to hang out together and we got to see the beginning of that friendship and that relationship, which obviously is very important in the Star Trek universe, and I'm wondering what that was like for you to get to play the early beginnings of their relationship.
PAUL WESLEY:Yeah, another hugely important relationship in the Star Trek universe, obviously. Celia is a really wonderful actor; very, very rich in terms of just her emotions are so easily accessible for her. She's a stage actress, she really has such a deep presence. I think what makes Spock and Kirk fascinating is how different they are. Similarly, he was able to sort of be there for her and fulfill some sort of, you know, need that she needed. She needed to fulfill something, and she needed to sort of figure things out about her own self and her character's evolution, and Kirk was able to be there for her and be a part of that journey. You try not to think too much about how big of a deal it is for these two characters to meet, similar with my relationship with Spock and when they first meet. You have to keep reminding yourself that these characters don't know how important this is, that they're just characters. And I'm still new to that, because I'm still figuring out this role, and so going in I need to calm myself down and not make a big meal out of everything and just sort of play it honestly.
QUESTION:Ethan, this is such an interesting season for Spock. At the start, we see him very in touch with his emotions and he's been given this instrument to sort of release the emotions, and it's similar sort of, I think, to a harpsichord. Talk about learning to play that instrument and your experience with it.
ETHAN PECK:Yeah, I actually grew up playing classical cello. So, there's like - I would actually relate it more to - oh, my gosh, what's the instrument called? We had a really wonderful musical consultant come in and sort of teach me how to play. Oh my god, we did this so long ago that I can't remember what the instrument was that he put - I think it was a lyre. It was like a renaissance instrument. So, it was really wonderful to be able to incorporate this sort of secret ability that I have to play the cello that my friends don't even know that I do. They hear that I know how to play, and they're like, “Are you playing a trick on me?” So, it was really fun to bring that in, and I do personally believe that playing an instrument is such an amazing outlet for emotion. So, it was very easy to connect with that and so fun to kind of wrap Spock around this very emotional activity and see what that means to him.
PAUL WESLEY:You'll have to play the cello for me some time, Ethan.
ETHAN PECK:I shall. I shall woo you.
PAUL WESLEY:Can't wait.
QUESTION:Paul just wanted to ask you, so you had that chance encounter with William Shatner on the plane not so long ago. Playing a younger version of Kirk than was previously portrayed on screen, does it make it easier for you to not go toward the impersonation side of what Shatner did versus going in your own direction?
PAUL WESLEY:Yeah. I actually saw Shatner last week at an event, interestingly enough. But yeah, very much so. I asked that question going in. I said, “Guys, you want me to, you know, how much of an imitation slash you know?” And they said, “Please, just do your own thing.” And I think what you just said is the most important aspect, which is he's not the Kirk we know yet. He's still figuring it out. He's not this surefooted captain. He's a lieutenant. He's still kind of this boy, and he's kind of still figuring out his place. I think that if I have the honor of continuing to play this character, I would like to slowly develop some of those characteristics that we sort of know so well as such a big part of TV history.
QUESTION:There's obviously sort of rules in playing these guys, even though they're kind of early in their development. And then there's the script. And then there's you, as actors. So, how do you balance all of that?
PAUL WESLEY:Not easily. I mean, Ethan has been doing this much longer than I have, in terms of playing iconic characters. You know, you can almost answer this better than I can because you've had much more experience. Do you want to take it?
ETHAN PECK:Yes, yes, sure. I mean, Paul and I actually got to meet up and grab a meal together before he started filming, after he was cast, and it was really wonderful to be able to share what I had learned about my onboarding to the world of Star Trek and to this iconic character of Spock. There are rules, you're absolutely right, that were established by, you know, respectively, Leonard Nimoy for myself, and William Shatner for Paul, and I think it's just a very delicate dance that you have with these characters that already exist. So, for me personally, I really did my best to internalize Leonard Nimoy's creation. Right? Spock is his creation. Then, once that kind of felt alive in me to let go and just be, and I think Paul was really tasked with a great challenge, because he's got to jump in after we've been filming for, you know, six months, and we've already spent all this time with these characters. They really asked the impossible of him, and I think he did an amazing job. I think fans will be really excited to see him in season two, and he really, he really gets to explore Kirk as we want to know him, as a sort of playful, charming, dangerous guy.
QUESTION:It's like something familiar, yet different. But it all works out. I recognize these guys.
ETHAN PECK:Yeah, that's the idea.
QUESTION:How would you describe your characters' leadership styles and how they compare to Pike's?
ETHAN PECK:Oh, great question. Paul, you want to start on that one?
PAUL WESLEY:Yeah. My character is not quite a leader yet. I think Pike is this, you know, Anson does such a brilliant job of creating this sort of incredibly confident, incredibly – you know, Anson is the kind of guy, you're like, “Okay, if this ship's going down, I want this guy [as] captain, because I think he'll probably figure it out.” My character is not there yet. William Shatner's character is there; my character is not there yet. I think what's most important is to maintain that Kirk has a very clear moral compass that is absolutely not shakeable. He knows what's right; he knows what's wrong, and he has incredible instincts. I think that that's something you're born with, and I think he's born with that and that doesn't go away.
ETHAN PECK:As I understand it, Spock really has no desire to command, and so he really enjoys being the instrument of this team, being an instrument of this team. So, his command style, I guess, is sort of unknown to him. And we'll see in episode one a little bit more what it's like, and you'll see that he's learned from Captain Pike and from Michael Burnham.