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Chieffo, Hetrick & More Talk Discovery Highlights

Chieffo, Hetrick & More Talk Discovery Highlights

Season one of Star Trek: Discovery lent itself to plenty of favorite moments and major challenges for the cast and crew making the show. Those were recurrent topics of conversation with actress Mary Chieffo and several of the series’ creatives – including Jason Zimmerman, Glenn Hetrick and James MacKinnon – during roundtable sessions in the press room last week at WonderCon. was there, and here’s what they had to say:

Mary Chieffo (L’Rell)

Do you have a favorite aspect of your character?

Many. I treat all my characters with a lot of respect, but I also feel like they come to me at a time in my life when I need them. And I felt that very much with L'Rell. It was kind of her arc of living in the shadows and working from the sidelines, and not having confidence in her own abilities and power. That was a big journey for me, a continued journey for me, and I'm still trying to own myself and my own power, in my own life. And coming out of school there's just a lot of uncertainty after you graduate. To have this role, I got to manifest all of those insecurities and fears… I felt,  "Well, I’ve got to do it.”

And all those fears and nerves that I felt doing that speech as the actor I got to manifest in the character. So, the short answer to your question, I would say would be her sensitivity and her vulnerability, because I think that's true for all characters, but I think that I've been given room to really breathe into that from a lot of the scenes and moments I've had from the writers.

Jason Zimmerman (VFX Supervisor)

What was your favorite effect that you worked on in season one, and what was the most challenging?

It’s obvious to say the Enterprise, just because it’s the Enterprise, the coolest ship ever. So, I think that is definitely one of my favorite effects. I loved the sequence in 101, in the pilot, when she's traveling from the Shenzhou to the artifact. We had a blast doing that one.

That one was also very challenging to shoot because you have to do the zero gravity, and zero gravity is not an easy thing to pull off. Fortunately, there's a lot of good references, because features and television shows have done a good job with that. So, you can always start from there and see what everybody's done. But doing something that looks really like there’s no gravity, it takes time and it takes thought because wires, they have weight, people have weight. So, unless you're in an actual zero-g environment, you're going to have to do something to counteract that. So that was something we had to sort of process for a while to make sure we got it right.

James MacKinnon (Prosthetics & Special FX Makeup)

Which character was the most-challenging for you and your team to pull off?

Airiam was. It's mixing silicone with a hard surface. A 3D printed helmet, ears... did we get a test? No, we didn't. Tested it in Toronto, not here. So, I got the pieces and tried to figure out how to get them to be perfectly lined up with each other, so it doesn't look like we slip a helmet on. It's all one unit. And that, I think, started out four and a half hours to do the make-up. I think we got it down to two and a half. It’s just time after time after time. I got it down to an hour and 45 minutes.

Glenn Hetrick (Prosthetics & Special FX Makeup)

Which character was the most-challenging for you and your team to pull off?

Saru is very difficult. Just finding that character was probably the biggest journey for us as a creative team. There's a whole separate version of him that almost made it to stream, and changed very close to when we started shooting, and looks nothing like the current version. One of the driving forces was, when we saw that, and all the awesome VFX on it… We lost Doug (Jones).

When you have a performer of that top-level, creature-suit performer, like Doug? You need to let Doug act through the makeup. So, we went much more minimal and got smoothed down to something that really facilitates Doug's performance and his ability to emote and create empathy, more so than some giant makeup. But that made that very difficult, where you're working for months on one angle and then suddenly you're doing something completely different.Star Trek: Discovery Seasons 1-4 are currently streaming exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., the U.K., Switzerland, South Korea, Latin America, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, and Austria. Seasons 2 and 3 are also available on the Pluto TV Star Trek channel in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media's CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave. Star Trek: Discovery is distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution.