Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ first season was everything we loved about classic Star Trek, infused with exciting and modern stories as well as a cast of new and returning characters (we gave it a rare 10/10). Suffice it to say, we can’t wait for the show to return for Season 2 later this year.
On the occasion of the upcoming Blu-ray release of Season 1, we spoke to Melissa Navia (Erica Ortegas) and Celia Rose Gooding (Nyota Uhura) about what fans can expect from Season 2, what it was like becoming these characters, and more.
The Blu-ray and DVD of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will be released on March 21, 2023, and will include over 90 minutes of special features, including exclusive interviews with the cast and crew, a gag reel, deleted scenes, and other surprises. The limited edition 4K UHD Blu-ray Steelbook (pictured below) is available for pre-order now and will be released on May 16.
If that’s not enough Star Trek goodness for you, CBS and Paramount Home Entertainment are hosting a Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Trivia Night on March 24 at the Scum and Villainy Cantina in Hollywood, California, to celebrate the Blu-ray and DVD release. The event will include prizes, Star Trek-themed food and drinks, a Q&A with host and Star Trek science advisor Dr. Erin Macdonald and a special guest, a sneak peek at behind-the-scenes footage from Season 1, and more. Head here for more details!
Lastly, before we get to our chat, IGN can exclusively reveal one of these behind-the-scenes clips from the Season 1 Blu-ray and DVD, and you can check it out below.
Bringing Uhura and Ortegas to Life
When looking back at the first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, it was tough for Navia and Gooding to pick out just one favorite moment from shooting those episodes.
However, there was one particular episode that stuck out for both actresses: Episode 8, “The Elysian Kingdom,” or as they put it, the “fantasy episode.” In a way, it really showed the cast what Strange New Worlds was about and how unique their journey could be.
“I loved the day when everyone got to see their fantasy outfits for the first time,” Gooding said. “I think we were shooting some other episode at the time, but we were all showing each other pictures of like, ‘This is what I'm wearing, this is what I'm wearing.’ Just that giddy excitement of getting to do something super duper new and out of the ordinary of what we had been shooting at the time. It was just really exciting and refreshing.”
Navia agreed: “I think for all of Season 1, every day was a new kind of high, but definitely our fantasy episode was… I think for us, it showed us the potential of the roles that we're in and the worlds that we're going to be able to inhabit. Seeing everybody during that episode take on these new personas was exciting and it was also just like fantasy and space. I mean, where do you do that other than the way that we do it in Star Trek?”
One of the most exciting things for fans about Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is the chance to see some of our favorite characters in a new way, including Gooding’s take on a younger Nyota Uhura. For this previously untold chapter of Uhura’s life, the creative team wanted to really explore the differences between Cadet Uhura and the “iconic lieutenant Uhura” that was played by the late Nichelle Nichols.
“We're meeting [Uhura] at the beginning of her Enterprise career, and she's still figuring out whether or not she wants to continue this life on the Enterprise and continue working with this incredible crew,” Gooding said. “How they pitched it was, we're seeing a very new, unsure, very curious, and constantly questioning and trying to figure out the world and the space around her kind of Uhura.
“She loves making friends. She's just sort of wary of what it means to mean something to someone and to mean something to a crew. Because once you start to mean something to a crew, your place within that crew, it has a lot more weight. We were constantly asking ourselves, ‘Is Uhura ready to mean something to someone after she's dealt with such an incredible loss [after the death of her parents]? Is she ready to put that at risk again?’ And that sort of question and conversation is her arc throughout the whole first season.”
Navia had an entirely different experience, as she was helping create a brand-new character rather than taking on a legendary role. Apparently, the Ortegas we see on the screen is very much like the one she auditioned for.
“What the breakdown said was really what they ended up creating on the page and subsequently on screen and on set,” Navia said. “That she is this pilot and she's tough and she's a soldier and she's loyal and she's funny, and she's very, very competent, and that's exactly what was in the breakdown when I auditioned. Then all I added to that was what I know that I can bring to it, that I think I can only bring to it in the way that I can. And they liked it.”
Ortegas became a fan-favorite in Season 1, and she was the focus of the first clip released for Season 2 of Strange New Worlds.
— Star Trek on Paramount+ (@StarTrekOnPPlus) September 8, 2022
“I love that that was the clip we gave everybody as a peek of for Season 2, and it was at Star Trek Day when Henry [Alonso Myers], one of our showrunners, he was just like, ‘They've been asking for more Ortegas and so we're going to give it to them.’ That, to me, was very special because it was a testament to what the writers have done and to what we as a crew have done.
“Being able to develop an entire ensemble of characters in such a rich way is really difficult with only 10 episodes to get nine people's stories in. The fact that Ortegas was able to poke through and also be an essential part of the crew for audiences was just really wonderful and fantastic to see.”
Going Where No One Has Gone Before in Season 2 of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Season 2 of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds doesn’t have a premiere date as of yet beyond sometime in 2023, but Gooding promises that the new episodes will continue to push the boundaries and be outside the box in all the best ways.
“I would say, [we’re] definitely [doing] some things we haven't seen in Star Trek history before, and I think if people really enjoyed the out-of-left-field hijinks [from Season 1], they're going to have a couple of fantastic things to look forward to,” the actress teases.
One of these “out-of-left-field hijinks” we know is on its way is the unexpected crossover episode that will bring the animated world of Star Trek: Lower Decks into the live-action universe of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
The news of this mash-up no one could have predicted came at San Diego Comic-Con 2022 when it was revealed that Tawny Newsome’s Ensign Beckett Mariner and Jack Quaid’s Ensign Brad Boimler from Lower Decks will visit the U.S.S. Enterprise (reportedly they’ll be portrayed as both animated and live-action). If that wasn’t exciting enough, it was also revealed that Commander William Riker himself, Jonathan Frakes, will be directing the episode.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds – Exclusive Character Posters of the New Crew of the USS Enterprise
Having a Star Trek legend like Frakes on set was special for both Navia and Gooding. Navia laughs about the time Frakes was off-camera, voicing a character who wasn’t present on set.
“So I'm sitting there and I'm looking at the script, and he's reading and I'm like, ‘This can't be happening,’” Navia said. “His voice is his voice, and it's there on the bridge, and I'm there and I'm in uniform, and it was like I was hurdled back to my childhood and also that still I have to figure out what we're doing in this scene. So, it was very strange and also very wonderful. And you can tell that he enjoys his job so much. Whenever I meet fans, I'm like, ‘Yeah, he is as awesome as you think he is.’”
Gooding also says that the cast spent more time performing in front of virtual sets for Season 2, including blue screens, an AR wall, and more, as there is going to be “a lot of adventuring” and the team is taking it “another step further with just how fantastic the worlds are.
“In Season 2, there's one episode in particular that I'm thinking of, that we do a lot more work specifically in the AR wall,” Gooding said. “I think they make it so easy for us to do our job, because the majority of the worlds we're working in, we can actually see them around us. In Season 2, I think we really widen the angle of the realities that we're a part of.”
For more from the world of Star Trek, check out our Star Trek: Picard Season 3 premiere review, Paul Wesley’s reaction to William Shatner’s reaction to the new James T. Kirk played by Wesley, and our look at Captain Pike’s timeline.
Scott Collura is Executive Editor of Entertainment Features at IGN.