Standup comic Tig Notaro did a standout job playing the marooned, heroic and humorously agitated Chief Engineer Jett Reno of the U.S.S. Hiawatha in “Brother,” the season-two opener of Star Trek: Discovery. Affectionately named by her brother as a child, Notaro regularly tours the country performing standup and has appeared on Ellen, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, among other programs. Her film and TV credits include The Sarah Silverman Program, Bob’s Burgers, Fresh Off the Boat and One Mississippi (which she wrote, produced and directed), as well as the documentary, Tig. StarTrek.com grabbed a few minutes of Notaro’s time when she stepped onto the red carpet at the Discovery second-season premiere event in Manhattan on Thursday. Here’s what she had to say about how she landed the role of Chief Engineer Reno and the kick she gets out of playing the character…
How familiar were you with Star Trek before becoming involved with Discovery?
I had followed it as a child and not since, actually. So, it was a fun dream come true that I didn't know was a dream come true.
Because you didn’t even know it was a dream…
Exactly. I didn't know it was a dream -- and it's the best.
How did the opportunity come about for you to play this role on Discovery?
Well, I've known (Discovery executive producer and co-creator) Alex Kurtzman for over 20 years. And he just offered me the role.
Give us your sense of Reno. What makes her tick?
Reno… I always tell everyone that I don't have a huge range as an actor, so there's always a lot of me in there, whatever I'm doing. Also, I can’t claim to be as smart as Reno. There's a lot of... I know this might be taboo to mention Star Wars with Star Trek, but it feels like there’s a little bit of Han Solo sprinkled in there. But gosh, I think your question was “What makes Reno tick?”
Or, coming at it another way, what's interesting to you about her as a character?
I just love the confidence and the strength and the anything is possible attitude that she’s got.
What was it like that first time you put on the uniform and arrived on the set? And you had your friend Alex directing you…
I have to say, I had a private moment of, “Wow, I think I might look cool in this.” It felt great. And Alex directing, it was so phenomenal. There’s just a comfort and ease there.
How welcoming to you was the cast?
To this day, I've truly never experienced a kinder cast or crew in any project that I've worked on.
Last question, which line made you laugh more… “Evolution’s a fickle bitch, am I right?” or “An armistice? With the guys who drink blood wine?”
I think, “Fickle bitch.” That made me laugh.