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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' Bridge Crew Actors Share Secrets Behind Acting On The Enterprise, And Losing Themselves In The Roles

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is almost here and is set to bring some new elements to the long-running franchise. Fans will get to see a bridge crew of both new and familiar characters on the Enterprise navigating space amid a five-year mission. The bridge is where most of the Trek franchise’s most exciting scenes often happen, so what’s it like to inhabit a Starfleet vessel set while trying to also act in a scene? Well, the actors who play the crew of the starship have discussed their keys acting while on the bridge and how they even lose themselves in the roles. 

I had the honor of speaking to Christina Chong, Melissa Navia, and Celia Rose Gooding ahead of the premiere of Strange New Worlds (which will be streamable with a Paramount+ subscription) and asked them about the ins and outs of acting on the Enterprise bridge. Chong, who plays Chief of Security Lieutenant La'an Noonien-Singh, talked to me about how she prepares for tense scenes that take place at her station and noted the importance of buttons:

I have, whenever some things like irregular or whenever there’s some kind of attack or happening, or the Gorn are coming or whatever. I endow the buttons, it’s a different button every time but maybe I’ll endow a certain button with the emergency and the energy of…‘If I press this button, then something terrible is going to happen in my own life,’ or, ‘Press the button and stop something terrible happening in my own life.’ So I kind of, in that way, tried to make it real to me.

So anyone watching the show over the next few weeks may want to keep an eye on La’an and those buttons. It’s certainly interesting to hear the actress' process of endowing importance to buttons while still navigating a scene and making sure to balance everything seamlessly. 

Melissa Navia plays conn officer Lieutenant Erica Ortegas, and she takes that role very seriously. In fact, Navia confessed to CinemaBlend that she'll sometimes miss a cue because she’s so caught up in pretending to fly the ship and referencing the additional materials she gets from the graphics team:

Well, for me, I’m actually flying the ship. That is how I go into it. The console, the helm for me, is like just the real deal. I have everything that’s in front of me. I get the graphics guys, who are wonderful, and they like build in evasive maneuvers that nobody on-screen will ever see, but I see it. So I laugh sometimes because I’ll completely forget a line because I’m like [imitates flying ship] here, and they’re like ‘Melissa,’ and I’m like, ‘Sorry guys! I’m like focused. We’re doing stuff.’

While Melissa Navia gets caught up in flying the ship occasionally, that’s not something I dislike hearing as a Star Trek fan. It's honestly great to know that Navia is so immersed in the experience, as it indicates just how passionate she is about her work within this fictional universe.

Hilariously enough, she takes so much care when it comes to pretending to fly the ship that she tends to notice when other members of the crew are in her spot. The actress further revealed that there have been a few times in which she’s seen other cast members in her position on the conn and weren’t doing things to her liking:

I’m in awe of all the other stations, and they all have buttons. I have less buttons to play with. There have been a few times I’ve been in the Captain’s chair, and they have someone else sitting in at my helm, and they’re doing things, and I’m just like cringing because I’m like, ‘That’s the wrong thing, you don’t know.’ So, I just have to [accept it]. I just take it very seriously, and then also I’m having a great time too.

Melissa Navia had a bit of button envy and, given the myriad of buttons on the walls, it isn’t hard to see why. There are a lot of options for people working on the different corners of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ bridge and a lot of buttons to press. Celia Rose Gooding knows that about as well as anyone. Since she plays the role of Cadet Nyota Uhura, she has a lot of buttons to handle as a communications specialist. Gooding shared the secrets behind that, as well as what she’s actually up when filming bridge crew scenes on the show:

I have a lot of buttons. I have a whole console to myself. It’s great. I try to touch everything. I think of my style of communication as like sonar. So, I’m constantly opening and closing frequencies, hailing frequencies, I’m trying to like listen in to see if there’s communication happening around us that like maybe our shields aren’t picking up on or sensors aren’t picking up on. I’m constantly like putting my ear to a bunch of imaginary doors, and that’s how I try to look busy when really, I’m just listening to how talented my cast is saying a bunch of words that don’t make sense in any universe besides ours.

Christina Chong and Celia Rose Gooding also shared their nicknames for everyone’s station in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and they're absolutely hilarious. For those curious, Uhura does “words,” La’an handles “pew-pews,” Ortegas is “Google Maps,” and Spock (whose portrayer, Ethan Peck, spoke to us about finding the role through understanding Leonard Nimoy) runs “thermostat or air-con.” If it isn’t apparent by now, this cast loves to have fun, which might be why I found them so immediately likable. And on top of that, the show is a great entry point for new viewers. Here's to more fun times for the cast and crew on the set!

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds premieres on Paramount+ (opens in new tab) on Thursday, May 5th. Tune in for the latest installment in the franchise, and be sure to keep tabs on the other new Trek shows that are coming in 2022 and beyond. 

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.