Star Trek: Picard's Orla Brady on Her New Character's Original Series Connections and Laris' Romance With Jean-Luc

Orla Brady returns to Star Trek: Picard in this week's episode, "Fly Me to the Moon" (directed by Jonathan Frakes), but not as the character fans have come to know her as. SPOILERS follow for Star Trek: Picard's latest episode, "Fly Me to the Moon." In last week's episode, young Guinan led Jean-Luc Picard to the watcher, who bears a striking resemblance to Laris, the Romulan that lived with Picard in the original timeline. This week's episode reveals that this character is Talinn, a supervisor fulfilling the same mission as Gary Seven from the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Assignment: Earth." had the chance to speak to Orla Brady over the phone, both about Laris' growing relationship with Jean-Luc Picard and her new role as Talinn. Here's what she had to say:

(Photo: Paramount+)

You were in the first few episodes of Star Trek: Picard's first season. I think the fan reaction to Laris was really strong, maybe even stronger than the writers expected? Were you expecting to get a callback for season two?

No, no. It was a complete surprise. It was a surprise to the writers and an utter surprise to me.

Laris and Zhaban were two characters who, if anything, in season one, they were there to give us the prologue. This is what Picard has been doing. It's related to the destruction of Romulus and Romulans seeking refuge on Earth, and they have been taking care of him. He's been in a situation that's been very secure, very lovely, but he's eager and itching to do something to make a difference if you like. That was their function. The roles, as originally conceived and when I got the script first, were in their 30s. I think they were younger, kind of active.

I think one of the lovely things that can happen to an actor, if a role has the writing, if it's there, is you can just let go and see what comes up, to just iterate, not plan. And what happened, what emerged was this lovely thing, which is that I discovered that there was great love there. Laris did love him. She reveres Picard as she does. It's not a love that had any endgame to it, if you like. It was just that she adores him, and that was something that seemed to come across. Possibly, when you talk about the response of the fans, is that people saw that there.

The writers told me afterward that they were a little taken, in a good way, taken aback with response to her because it was kind of two and on, and then he was off in the main story. So they felt that there was enough of a connection between myself and Patrick, or Picard and Laris, that they felt they wanted to explore that story more. And they had anyway hoped to go into the reasons why he has never committed to a long-term relationship. That beautiful long-term adventure that love is had never been a feature of his life, and they wanted to explore it, and they felt that this began to happen naturally in season one, and it was a surprise to all of us.

It sounds like you had a sense that this would be the direction that it would go in, that you felt there was something there from the first season.

No, no, no. I didn't know that. When I said she loved him, I mean -- really, to be clear about this, because she was in a very, very happy, lovely, long marriage -- there can sometimes be, as I call it, head on side. You can put your head on one side and think, "God, in another life, I could love that person." And that's it. That's the end of the thought. There's no thought for a result from that. Because you're in one life, and that's your life.

So it was just there in her. It was unquestioned. So, no, I didn't know anything beyond that. That just happened in the playing of the role. There was no thought to any further into that.

Was it a big adjustment, then, playing them in that mode in season two? Or was that baked into the fact that 18 months at least had passed between the two seasons?

There wasn't an adjustment in that the base was there. I mean, there was this thing that's happened, which is that Zhaban has died. As we have said about Romulans in general and Laris in particular, she's able to love deeply, mourn and then love again. She is somebody who is very capable of love in a very direct way. Hence, the feeling that grows between Picard and Laris is easy for her. It still honors the past and her last relationship and the wonderful Jamie [McShane] who plays Zhaban. I bet the fans miss him because he really, really was, oh, gorgeous, and I loved doing season one with him. But it honors all that and is able to move on.

So I think, if anything, the writers had planned to explore this more emotional aspect of Picard, and we're starting to see his early relationship with his mother and those events that are part of the making of the man. But I think they took the response of fans who commented on this, and they felt there was a natural progression to Picard and Laris.

So, no, I didn't have to change and rethink the character. There has been an interim of time where the feeling between them has deepened and become a more romantic love. It wasn't at all a romantic love in season one. It was a reverence, a regard, all those things, a love, a kind of love, but not romantic. So the starting point was the same, and you just decided you were down the line with it, to the point where she has become brave enough, if you like, and possibly practical enough to think, "Well, listen, come on, we're both getting on. Are we doing this or aren't we?"

In this episode, you aren't playing Laris. Instead, you're playing Talinn, the "watcher" that Picard has been looking to find. When they approached you about the idea of this character, were you familiar with the episode "Assignment: Earth"? When they said you're going to play a supervisor like Gary Seven, was that something you picked up on quickly or did this require a little explanation for you?

No, it didn't, because here's the thing about Star Trek with me. Through the course of my life, it's been part of my life. Because when I was very young in Ireland, lots of reruns of The Original Series, so it would've been when I was about seven, eight, around then, there would've been The Original Series, and so, it was there in the ether. It was part of my world, if you like, laughing at Spock because he was funny. And these are young child reactions to it, but I had a big girl crush on Uhura. I adored her because she was a boss, and they were not the circumstances of life for a girl or a woman in Ireland. So in that regard, I'm a Trekkie, but not in the sense that I would watch it every week. I was too young.

So I had a sense of Gary Seven, and as soon as they referenced that, the supervisors, I went back and watched it. I mean, I've seen it several times since. It was such a great creation on the part of Robert Lansing. He created an equal to Captain Kirk, somebody who has great status. Had they done the spinoff series, which I think they had planned to do, I think I've read that somewhere, that they were hoping they could spin off the supervisors into a series of their own, with Robert Lansing at the helm, It would've been phenomenal had that happened.

So it gave me a great sense of how he, and therefore I, could feel very equal to Picard. And so, she has none of the reverence all the other characters in the series have for this legendary character, Picard, his whole life, what he's done. Even Laris has that, but Talinn doesn't. Talinn just thinks, "What the heck is this entitled white guy doing, time traveling into my gig? I am a supervisor. I'm responsible for this girl. He's trying to muscle in on the act, and now he's telling me what the plan is? What the heck." She's quite cross with him at first.

Does she view him as a kind of proof, a vindication, something that shows that ultimately she does her job well? Given that she's looking after one of his ancestors?

She doesn't know who he is. I mean, their relationship evolves. He makes her aware of the fact that time has been altered and that sort of thing, and she becomes convinced of the importance of the mission and becomes willing to join him because she understands with greater clarity that the young woman she's assigned to watch over has an importance that really does pertain to the future and how the world turns out. So, having been very suspicious of him at first, she understands their common purpose.

But more importantly, I think she also notices fact that he -- this is not something she can help --  but for him, she's so reminiscent of someone he has feelings for, that this intrigues her and amuses her. And that's very important for his journey, is that he's not let off the hook in terms of being reminded of Laris and what he couldn't respond to and what he wants to respond to.

So, yes. And also, of course, Patrick plays Jean-Luc so beautifully, that who wouldn't want to respond to the dignity of this man, of Picard?

Your scenes have almost entirely been relegated to playing with either Zhaban and Picard, or just Picard. At the end of this episode, we get to see the first glimpse of you as Talinn getting to interact with the rest of the cast. How has it been getting to interact with some of the other cast members now? What was it like building those relationships between Tallinn and the rest of the crew?

Well, lovely because they're a fun gang, having fun. Several of the performances I rather adore in season one. I especially loved Captain Rios. I think Santiago is a really beautiful actor who can touch a lot of points, be very sort of moving and very dignified and very manly, but in a very beautiful, sensitive way. Also, I never took it up with him, but I meant to take up that he did an Irish accent in the first season, [laughs] and I've yet to do that, but he was lovely.

And for all the others. I mean, it was fun to be part of, I call them the Scooby gang because they're the Scooby gang. They're running around, having adventures, whereas, as you said, in season one, I had an apron on and was in a house. So yeah, it was fun. It was great.

But my relationship, truthfully, I worked most closely with Patrick, because that's the purpose of having the same actor play this role. She's important as a watcher for the story to go forward, and they've been looking for the watcher, and they need to find her to kind of unlock what to do, to unlock what's up, what's wrong, how is time altered. And she makes them aware of that because she has great purview of all of that.

Lastly, what would you say to fans eager to see what's coming up for Talinn, but also hoping for a resolution to that Laris and Picard story that we saw start at the beginning of the season?


Well, what would I say? I would say, do you think that we would leave it right there, with Laris? I think I'm allowed to say we're likely to see her again. She's too good a character to just disappear completely at the beginning, isn't she? I think so. I'm biased, but I love her. I think she's gorgeous, and everyone needs a Romulan around.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Star Trek: Picard streams on Paramount+