Star Trek: Discovery's midseason premiere, "Despite Yourself," may have stunned fans with the sudden and unexpected death of a character, but for the actor who plays that character, it was that the scene was directed by Jonathan Frakes that was so surreal.
SPOILERS for Star Trek: Discovery Season 1, Episode 10 "Despite Yourself" below.
Wilson Cruz, who plays Dr. Hugh Culber on the CBS All Access series, spoke with SyFy about what it was like to not only be directed in a scene featuring his character's death, but to be directed in that scene by Star Trek: The Next Generation alum Jonathan Frakes.
"Do you have a history with the Star Trek franchise?" Cruz said. "Did you watch it growing up? I did. I remember watching the premiere of the pilot episode of Next Gen when I was a teenager. I was a huge fan of that show and I had huge crushes on Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes, who by the way directs this episode, so can you imagine what it was like for me to not only film the episode in which my character was killed but be directed by the one and only Jonathan Frakes. It was surreal."
As those familiar with the Star Trek franchise know, Frakes is best known for playing Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Since his turn in front of the camera, though, he has worked behind it on other Star Trek projects quite frequently, specifically directing episodes of Voyager as well as the movies First Contact and Insurrection. His experience directing Star Trek is something that Cruz said made working with Frakes great.
"What I loved about working with Jonathan was his confidence," Cruz said. "He's very confident. He knew exactly what he wanted the shot to be. He let me bring what I wanted to bring to it and trusted me, really trusted me that I knew what I was doing. He gave me a lot of space and time in those really big scenes with Shazad, who I owe such a great deal to because he came so prepared to go for it in these scenes because we knew how important they were."
Cruz went on to say that Frakes helped make an otherwise "weird" scene easy.
"It couldn't have been a better working experience," Cruz said. "Whenever you die on screen or get killed on screen it's always weird. It's a weird thing as a human being to have to act out. It's always a little weird. It should be. It should be a little weird, but doing it with those men and that great crew made it really really easy and really let me go to some dark places."
New Star Trek: Discovery episodes became available to stream Sundays at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBS All Access.