Of all the new TV and film trailers to emerge from last weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con, nothing endeared itself to Star Trek fans as much as the teaser for executive producer Bryan Fuller‘s continuation of creator Gene Roddenberry’s vision, Star Trek: Discovery. After Fuller hosted the Star Trek 50th Anniversary panel at the convention (at which the teaser debuted), we spoke with him one-on-one about his CBS All Access original series, and he told us of his plans to return the franchise to its roots in thoughtful optimism.
Kubrick Is an Influence
With Discovery, Bryan Fuller is letting his love of Stanley Kubrick show. Big time. The series’ teaser trailer opens with an image of three heavenly bodies lining up, just like the opening shot of 2001: A Space Odyssey, while its ship bears the same name as that of the late filmmaker’s masterpiece. “Of course I’m a massive Kubrick fan and the Discovery from 2001,” Fuller tells us. “And there’s something so Star Trek about the word ‘discovery.'”
It Puts the Science Back in Science Fiction
After its near absence in Bad Robot’s ongoing series of Trek films, it’s refreshing to hear that genuine science will play a role in Discovery.
“There’s a wonderful sense of what we need as humans,” says Fuller of the show. “We need to be explorers. We need to discover. We need to expand. We need to heal where we are right now. Because we’re in some dangerous territory as a country. I don’t take the responsibility lightly—to continue acknowledging that beacon in the stars for us to aspire to, for us to be better people.”
He continues, “Because there’s so much ignorance-based fear in this country, and demagogues who would prey on that fear, it is the scientists and the explorers and the dreamers that are going to bring this country and the world to the place that it needs to be. And I would love for us to end up in Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future. That’s one of the appeals of Star Trek. People see it, and they dream about being explorers and being part of something greater than themselves. Right now it’s very, very easy to get lost in ignorance and fear.”
Its Look Will Be Very Different from J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek
Forget the abundance of swooping curves on NuTrek’s Enterprise, Fuller’s Discovery has a healthy helping of straight lines, inspired by Star Wars concept artist Ralph McQuarrie’s designs for Gene Roddenberry’s never-produced 1970s Star Trek series.
“We were looking for a new aesthetic,” explains Fuller. “We can’t just go back to the same aesthetic. You look at what J.J. Abrams did with that 2009 movie, which reinvented Star Trek in such a wonderful way and claimed that territory. So we had to strike new ground that had Star Trek in its DNA at a fundamental level. To make a commitment to the fanbase, who are aware of Star Trek and its iterations—both the shows that made it to the airwaves and the ones that didn’t. So it felt like a really nice way to let the hardcore Star Trek audience know that I have their backs.”
Bryan Fuller REALLY Likes Halloween
Seriously. Like, enough to commission an entire starship in its honor. Just take a look at the Discovery’s registry number: NCC-1031. “Yes,” admits the director with a laugh, “I love Halloween.”
It’s a sure sign that, while this Star Trek will take itself seriously, like the original series it won’t be afraid to have a little fun sometimes.
Veteran Star Trek Actors Could Appear on the Show
The Fuller-hosted Star Trek 50th Anniversary panel at Comic-Con included the presence of fan-favorite cast members from all five Trek TV series: William Shatner, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Jeri Ryan, and Scott Bakula. Since the new series will take place in Trek‘s original Prime Universe, we asked Fuller if there was any chance these legends could someday return to their roles.
“Never say never,” he replied, “I love everybody on that panel. I would love to work with them in some capacity. And I won’t stop until I do. So wish us luck.”
And Veteran Star Trek Actors Are in No Way Opposed to Appearing in It
“Let me tell you something,” says Michael Dorn, the man who gave Trek‘s most famous Klingon, Worf, his warrior’s heart. “I always say, ‘We’re in space for God’s sake—who knows?’ You never know.”
Jeri Ryan shares the sentiment. “It could not be in better hands,” says the once (and future?) Seven of Nine. “Truly. I am beyond thrilled that Bryan has taken the helm on this show. I think it’s just gonna be incredible… Yeah, never say never. It could be fun to re-explore.”
Star Trek‘s Female Characters Will Be Stronger Than Ever
Though Trek has a grand tradition of iconic female characters, going back to Nichelle Nichols’ Lieutenant Uhura (the first African-American woman to regularly appear in a TV drama playing a character other than a maid) all the way up to Kate Mulgrew’s series lead Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager, one can’t help but wonder what kinds of ladies one might we see in a post-Force Awakens, post-Fury Road chapter of the franchise. Will there be even more consistently complete and complex female characterizations?
“Definitely,” says executive producer Heather Kadin, Fuller’s partner on Discovery. “I also think, even with those movies aside, if you just take the evolution of Star Trek itself in the various series, it’s been going in that direction. To hear Jeri Ryan talk about all that her character got to do and got to experience, and the groundbreaking things that she got to do, compared to what we’ll be able to do now, I think is really important. Yes, that’s definitely something that we’re gonna focus on and is gonna feel very present in a way that it hasn’t before.”
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