Jameela Jamil is finally free to talk about her Star Trek character's big twist. SPOILERS for Star Trek: Prodigy's two most recent episodes, "Masquerade" and "Preludes," follow. Paramount previously announced Jamil would voice Ensign Asencia, a Trill ensign in Starfleet serving under Vice Adm. Janeway aboard the USS Dauntless, in Star Trek: Prodigy. However, it did not reveal that Asencia is more than she seems. In truth, she is The Vindicator, a Vau N'Akat who, just like The Diviner, was sent back in time to prevent Starfleet from ever making first contact with their homeworld, Solum, an event that sent their society spiraling into prolonged civil war and nearly complete self-annihilation.
ComicBook.com had the opportunity to speak to Jamil about playing the dual role of Asencia and The Vindicator in Star Trek: Prodigy. Here's what she had to say:
This episode of Star Trek Prodigy has a big reveal for Asencia/The Vindicator. First of all, when they approached you about Star Trek Prodigy, which version of the character did they approach you with?
Jameela Jamil: I wasn't approached with anything. I was just asked if I wanted to be in it and I said, "Yes. Yes, please. Thank you." So, I didn't care who I was playing or what I would be doing, I just wanted to be part of it because I had been a fan for such a long time, and so that was really exciting for me. But I think it was the first day that we had to establish both voices and both sides of her. So, I got to learn very quickly what I was doing. And then I was so excited and I knew immediately this would go on to be my favorite ever voiceover role, and maybe one of the favorite characters I've ever played. And I'm begging for them to do a live-action of this because to be able to play both those characters would just be the role of a lifetime.
So, you'd be down to just do full prosthetics? Or whatever else it takes to make that happen.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'll wake up at 3 o'clock in the morning for this. That was really fun and also hilarious and offensive that the English accent is the one that we chose for when she's the bad guy. And so that was really fun and really enjoyable to play. And I think I enjoyed playing the more evil side of her the most, if you're wondering.
Did it feel like playing two different characters or do you see a little bit of The Vindicator in Asencia? Was it difficult to do both of them and still have it feel like one character?
No. You know what? I didn't have much of a throughline. I wanted to create a completely false ensign so that no one would catch on that this was coming. And I think most people have been very surprised. And so I think the only thing that kind of bleeds through occasionally is when she stands up to Janeway and is willing to criticize Janeway, or correct her, or come up against her. But other than that slight stubbornness, I wanted her to be the complete opposite so that she could hide in plain sight, which I think she did, which is why when she unveils herself, it's such a huge surprise to everyone.
You mentioned that you've been a fan for a long time and you're having quite a year as far as showing up in big properties, between this and She-Hulk. What was your relationship with not just Star Trek, but sci-fi and this kind of genre fiction in general? Was it these select properties or did you always hope to do sci-fi stuff? Or is it an unexpected turn?
No, I never expected to be in Hollywood, full stop. I was an English teacher. I didn't bank on this as a career, so this is all beyond my wildest imagination. And I never presumed I would be lucky enough to even be considered for this sort of stuff. But it was a big deal for me as a kid. Sci-fi was the first place that Hollywood ever embraced Brown people and Black people and all kinds of different storylines that you didn't really get to see in a lot of programming.
And Star Trek, in particular, had a really great way -- and I think Marvel does an amazing job of this as well. I mean, a lot of them do -- of finding a very surreal way, a kind of ethereal way, of telling actually what's quite a grounded, relatable story. And so I think kids learn a lot from this without realizing there being taught because you don't feel scolded. You're able to see the consistencies and patterns yourself, and you don't feel like it's being spoonfed to you. And so I think, therefore, it's very important. I think that's why it's so cool that we've now made one that is designed to introduce, especially young people, but really I think anyone can be introduced in Star Trek via this beautiful show.
Can you tell me a little bit about The Vindicator's relationship with The Diviner? Because I notice there's a line of dialogue in there where she kind of scoffs at him for ever thinking Starfleet was a good idea. Are we going to see some tension between the two of them or are they pretty much on the same page at this point?
I think that she's frustrated, right? She feels almost gaslit by the fact that he doesn't see things from the same perspective as her. Her heart is broken into pieces, she's so angry and she's offended if someone else doesn't carry that same outrage and anger that is driving her. It's her motivation. She is out for blood, it's an eye for an eye as far as she's concerned. And she's lost everything, so his support is the last shred of home that she's got left. And so she's frustrated, and she's visibly frustrated.
I'm curious about the name too, because "The Vindicator" is objectively a very cool name, almost a superhero or supervillain name. Is there a story to go with that name that we're going to find out? Or is it pretty much just, as they say in the episode, a serious name for a serious character?
No, I'm not going to get into that with you, you'll just have to keep watching. But I do think that it lends itself to the fact that it's totally easy when watching the show, especially at the beginning of her reveal, to just think of her only as evil and the bad guy and the antagonist. But also, her rage doesn't come from nowhere.
So in her head, she's not actually the villain. She doesn't really consider herself the villain. She considers herself as evening the playing field. She is out for what she considers to be justice, and I think that that's something that's really important to consider in all conflicts, that very few people think that they are the bad guy. They think that they are protecting something or they are defending something, and I think that's what she feels. She's doing this in the name of her home and her people that she lost. So that's something I think is cool. This is why I'm so obsessed with playing villains because I think their context and their backstory are so vital, so cool, and so complex.
I know you don't want to give too much away, obviously, but can you say anything about what the rest of The Vindicator/Asencia's story looks like for the remainder of this season? What can fans look forward to seeing?0comments
I think you are just going to grow in empathy for her, and you're going to grow in frustration. You want to empathize with her because you learn more and more about what happened to her to turn her into this version of herself. But she grows in how much she gratuitously enjoys this, and I think that's hard to support. They allowed me to put a lot of smug and a lot of the way that I think whales play with a baby seal before they, there's a horrible image, but the way they sort of toss it back and forth before they eat it. There's a part of that that I try to put into her voice and into her character, like she enjoys toying with them. She's been waiting her whole life for this moment to, in her own mind, vindicate herself and get her revenge. So I think she's going to grow in how she drips with rage and how much she enjoys all of this destruction.
Star Trek: Prodigy debuts new episodes on Thursdays on Paramount+.