6 Minutes with Alan van Sprang
And the crowd went crazy. Let’s explain: During the Star Trek: Discovery panel two weeks ago at WonderCon, fans were treated to a scene trimmed from the season-one finale, “Will You Take My Hand?”. The 2-minute and 30-second scene, a coda set not long after the events of the finale, featured Emperor Georgiou operating a bar/club in the Orion market on Qo'noS and encountering a supposed Trill named Leland (Alan van Sprang). She thinks he’s Starfleet, but he reveals that he’s part of a “far more resourceful” organization that considers her a “valuable asset,” and he offers her the opportunity to "exert some influence over the fate of this galaxy." Walking away, he leaves behind a case with a black delta shield and says, “Welcome to Section 31.”
Moments after the WonderCon attendees watched that scene, they met Alan van Sprang, who played Leland in the scene and will return for more intrigue in season two of Discovery. Following his time on the stage, the actor – a Canadian whose credits include Conundrum, Viper, La Femme Nikita, Earth: Final Conflict, Soul Food, Evel Knievel, Saw III, Diary of the Dead, Survival of the Dead, The Tudors, Saving Hope, Reign and Shadowhunters – ventured into the press room to speak briefly with journalists about the finale scene, Leland and more. StarTrek.com was in the room, and here’s what he had to say:
Welcome to the Star Trek universe.
Oh, thank you.
How does it feel to be part of this massive family?
Pretty honored. It's pretty amazing. (Showrunners) Aaron (Harberts) and Gretchen (J. Berg)… I was doing a show called Reign and they took over that show. So, they knew me from that. They gave me a phone call and said, “Hey, would (you) like to come on board.” They didn't know what character, what I'd be doing. This was just sort of thrown in my lap. So, here we go.
Tell us about your character…
I play Leland, who's the new Section 31 (operative) in the show, and that's basically all I can say. It's basically the intelligence, a non-existent intelligence of Starfleet, and then he brings people on board.
Were you aware of Section 31 before? Or even of Star Trek in advance of Discovery?
Tell us about the deleted scene from “Will You Take My Hand?” and working with Michelle Yeoh…
Well, it was fantastic. I was a huge fan of hers, through Crouching Tiger and James Bond, and I knew who I was going to be working with. I read the script just before, and she was just so easygoing and nice to work with. There was no intimidation. I was very relaxed and we shot that scene, it was really quick, in a couple of hours. It was mostly set-up shots and extras that took the most time. But Michelle was fantastic. It was very easy, it was great. I look forward to the next journey.
Fans really haven’t seen this type of Star Trek show before, something serialized from the beginning. What are your thoughts on the serialization aspect?
I enjoy that. The show that I just came off of, Shadowhunters, for two and a half years, it was a serialized series as well. It was kind of a soap opera, so it went from episode to episode to episode, and I actually prefer that, because I prefer getting a script and knowing where I'm going from the next episode as opposed to just getting the new guest stars and having to do it with the new structure, new script. I can't wait.
How did the producers break it to you that that great scene didn't make the final cut?
It was the best news I ever heard.
Seriously, because they were introducing it here (at WonderCon), as opposed to just being a teaser, leading up to something in the first season. They just said, “Look, we're going to make a teaser trailer,” and I came out here. No, this is way better than having something on season one as a cliffhanger. I was thrilled.