Anson Mount is boldly going where only a few men before him have been… into the shoes of Captain Christopher Pike. The actor will portray the character in the upcoming second season of Star Trek: Discovery. Mount, who hails from Illinois and grew up in Tennessee, earned a degree in theater from Columbia University in New York City. He made his television debut in Ally McBeal and has amassed numerous film and television credits, among them Crossroads, Smallville, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Lost, Dollhouse, Straw Dogs, Non-Stop, Hell on Wheels and Inhumans. Mount is set to join William Shatner for Christmas with the Captains, to be held December 7 and 8 at the Star Trek: The Original Set Tour in Ticonderoga, New York. Mount will sign autographs, pose for photos and participate in an intimate Pike on the Bridge Q&A session. StarTrek.com sat down with the easygoing Mount this past summer, during his time at Star Trek Las Vegas, where he told us about his Trek experience so far, discussed upcoming projects and more…
What’s your experience at Star Trek Las Vegas been like? Have you ever done anything like this?
This is my first Star Trek-specific convention. I've done Comic-Con a couple of times, but that's a whole other thing. That's like a media marketing festival now. This is much more intimate, and, yeah, it's great. As someone was saying to me earlier, you get paid to come to a place where people just want to walk up to you and tell you how wonderful you are. It's kind of a no-brainer.
Are you sensing the excitement people have for seeing you in action as Pike on Discovery?
Very much. There's a lot of expectation that makes me a little nervous, but it's kind of wonderful. I've never been so known for a role that has not been shown yet.
How did you get here? Did you audition for the role? Was it an offer?
I auditioned. I had auditioned... I was close to getting Lorca, actually.
I’ve got to say, they hired the right guy. I'm a big Jason Isaacs fan. I was a fan of Jason Isaacs before he did that role. I actually just watched The Death of Stalin on the plane on the way here. He's fantastic. But, with Pike, I think we'd had a good time meeting and talking and everything (about Lorca). When this role came around, they were like, "Hey, is Anson available?" My team said, "Yeah." They said, "Will he audition?" I was like, "Of course, I'll audition." I don't want to be miscast in something. It felt good to them, it felt good to me, and we decided to do it. I've got to say, I was very excited to get the role, and then it was surreal for a while. It's still surreal.
We can't talk too much about it, but in general, based on what we've seen in the past from your predecessors, what excites you about the character?
It's always great to play somebody you like. I'm not particular. As an artist, I'm not particularly partial to that, but it's a great side benefit when it happens. I'm not so concerned with characters being likable so much as understandable. I hope that Pike is both. The thing that we all knew from the beginning, the only thing we really knew, is that he needed to be the everything that Lorca was not. I think that there's enough track laid for the character that that's backed up by the mythos. That's already in place. I'm learning about him as I go. We're learning about him as we go. We've been feeling it out, redirecting, re-calibrating here and there to see what feels right. It's great to be on a show that can afford to do that, to take the time to really develop a role the right way. It's not always like that. When you establish a character on TV, you tend to be careful about choices that you make because you're making them for a long period of time. You start with very general things. I know he probably had good parents, and he definitely had good mentors. And he knows that his greatest resource as a captain is his crew.
How much did you watch Jeffrey Hunter's performance, or Bruce Greenwood's, just to get a feel for what they did in advance of you taking on Pike as a character?
I'd seen Bruce's (Pike) in the theater a while back, and then I had not seen “The Cage” until I got this role. I just wanted to see the background. I didn't particularly think I resembled Jeffrey Hunter, at first, and then I happened to come across a picture of him playing Jesus, and for a second I thought I had come across a picture of Cullen Bohannon (Mount’s character in the acclaimed series Hell on Wheels). That's when I went, "Oh, OK. All right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. OK, I guess there is a resemblance." It's funny; I steal a lot as an actor, but I didn't really want to steal anything from any of these guys. For some reason, I felt like I needed to be respectful of what was there, but make it my own.
You also met Star Trek’s other Captain Pike, Sean Kenney, earlier today here at STLV…
What a lovely guy. Sean is such an old-school Hollywood guy.
And you met Jeffrey Hunter’s son as well, recently, right?
Meeting Jeffrey Hunter's son, Chris, was incredible. He traveled all that way to Comic-Con just to tell me he thought his father would be happy with me being cast.
Were you a Star Trek fan at all over the years? Or are you relatively new to it?
Oh, yeah. I grew up with The Original Series in syndication. I've seen every episode multiple times. Then, The Next Generation started when I was in high school. After about the third season is when I went to college, and that’s when I went into a lock box for the next eight years.
We have no idea how long you’ll be on Discovery, but in theory, how ready are you for a long run if it works out that way?
I guess I've gotten to the point in my life and my career where I don't really think about those things.
Yeah. I've worked very hard. My 20s was a nightmare of worry and my 30s was a period of training myself to be present. My 40s have been an enjoyable experience of being able to be in the present and not have to muscle myself into the present. I just sort of got used to doing it and not... I guess at a certain point you realize, "Oh, wait, we live in a country that doesn't have a debtors’ prison, and I'm not going to starve to death. Everything's going to work out." I don't really think about that too much.
You're walking in the door in season two of Discovery, meaning that this group had been together for more than a year already. How welcoming to you were the cast and crew?
Oh, my God, incredible. It's hard to be the new kid. They've just made me feel welcome from day one. It starts from the top down. Sonequa Martin-Green is one of the most-hospitable, loving, warm, elegant and vivacious people I've ever met in my life. She really brings a tremendous amount of energy, work ethic and respect to the set. When you see your number one working that hard – and when I say number one, I don't mean Number One in the Star Trek sense, I mean number one on the call sheet… When you see your number one working that hard and never complaining, you can't either. She leads by example.
Did you wrap anything else before starting on Discovery, that's going to be coming out in the near future?
I shot a movie last fall called Midnight Climax, that is with a first-time writer director who also comes from a military intelligence background. This guy, Joseph Sorrentino, is... I think this guy's got it. They're still finishing up the movie in post now. I play a northern behavioral psychiatrist working in Mississippi in the 1960s.
Tell us about your podcast…
It's called The Well, and our website is www.thewellpod.com. I am the co-host with my friend, Branan Edgens, who's a filmmaker and comes from an effects makeup background. The elevator pitch is that it's kind of like Radiolab, but instead of stories about science, it's stories about creative thinking. We come at it from all different angles, from not just artists, but we have a biologist, a football coach. We've got astrophysicists. Doug Jones is going to do an interview with us. People should check it out.
Lastly, how excited are you for the Christmas with the Captain event in December at the Star Trek: The Original Series Set Tour?
That sounds like a lot of fun to me. And I think the fans will love it.
It'll be Christmas with the Captains, as William Shatner and Anson Mount are set to beam down to Star Trek The Original Series Set Tour in Ticonderoga, New York, on Dec. 7 and 8. Shatner will be available for autographs, photo ops and, by popular demand, will host several Captain on The Bridge intimate Q&A chats, while Mount will also be available for autographs and photo ops, and will be doing a Pike on The Bridge event.
Tickets are on sale now. Go to www.StarTrekTour.com for additional details and to purchase tickets.
Star Trek: Discovery on Blu-ray
Fans in the U.S. and Canada can pre-order on Amazon.com now.
Star Trek: Discovery's second season will premiere on Thursday, January 17, 2019, in the U.S. and Canada, and in the rest of the world on Friday, January 18, 2019.