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From Star Trek to the Delivery Room: A Day of Dual Adventures for Patrick Kwok-Choon

In his own words, the Star Trek: Discovery actor details two mirroring pivotal moments, on- and off-screen, during the series’ fifth season.

Graphic illustration of Patrick Kwok-Choon as Gen Rhys taking the center seat on Star Trek: Discovery

On what was supposed to be just another day on the set of Star Trek: Discovery, everything morphed into an unforgettable experience. While my character, Gen Rhys, manned the captain's chair in Episode 508, "Labyrinths," my personal life was taking a dramatic twist — my wife was going into labor.

We had always known this moment could come. At nearly 39 weeks pregnant, one of our biggest fears was that I'd be called into work and miss the birth of our child. Here's how it all unfolded — hold onto your hats.

My wife had been battling insomnia, so to ensure I’d be well-rested for a busy day of filming, I opted to sleep in our nursery. Around 3 AM, I checked my phone and saw a message from her simply stating, "It's on." Half-asleep and confused, I wondered if I had left the oven on. With no further messages and still groggy, I drifted back to sleep. When I finally woke up at 8 AM, and as I stumbled to the bathroom, it suddenly clicked — "IT'S ON!" I dashed to our bedroom and found my wife.

Behind-the-scenes photo of Patrick Kwok-Choon as Gen Rhys at his station on the U.S.S. Discovery

Patrick Kwok-Choon

She had been up since 3 AM, coping with contractions that were uncomfortable but spaced about 10-12 minutes apart. She didn't wake me as she knew I had a long day ahead and thought it might be the beginning of a lengthy labor. We immediately called our midwife who, after a long talk, reassured us that nothing was certain, and that labor typically progresses at night. An hour before I was supposed to leave, the contractions stopped, and after another call to the midwife, it seemed relatively safe for me to head to set.

Leaving my wife that morning was incredibly hard. What if something went wrong? What if she needed me? But trusting the midwife's advice and recognizing my responsibility to the show, I reluctantly packed my gear. I hopped on my motorcycle and merely 15 minutes after I left, a text from my wife arrived, "Contractions have started up again." I quickly arranged for our next-door neighbor, who was also pregnant, to stay with my wife until I could return.

Upon arriving on set, all actors first get processed into hair and makeup. As my castmates trickled in, I couldn't help but share the news. Everyone was overjoyed for me. Sensing the gravity of the situation, our production assistant Astrid suggested notifying the production heads. I was nervous yet excited. After reading all the baby books, I knew that labor could take time, and I might still have plenty of it. Once everyone was ready, we moved to the set for rehearsals and blocking, allowing the crew to prepare their equipment. During breaks, I was glued to my phone, checking-in for updates from home.

One of the production heads came over to congratulate me and assured me that they were doing everything possible to wrap my scenes quickly. This was exactly the reassurance I needed. I felt safe, protected, and seen. It seemed like everyone was working together to help me get home as soon as possible, which lifted my spirits and calmed my nerves. This is not the standard experience across the industry, but we were blessed to have production heads and creative teams with big hearts.

Shortly after, another production head came over. He gave me a big hug, echoed his colleague's assurances, and added, "But if things aren't working out and you need to go — just bail." I told him that I had just gotten off the phone with my wife and reassured him that I felt we still had time. He gave me another hug and whispered in my ear, "JUST BAIL." I’m grateful for that moment to this day; here was the affirmation that family comes first.

Behind-the-scenes of the Star Trek: Discovery production with Sonequa Martin-Green, Mary Wiseman, Patrick Kwok-Choon, Emily Coutts, Ronnie Rowe, and Oyin Oladejo

Patrick Kwok-Choon

During this occasion, the principle of "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few — or the one," was profoundly reversed. In the world of Star Trek, such decisions often come with heavy burdens. However, on the set of Star Trek: Discovery, the collective shifted to support my personal milestone. This inversion, where my Starfleet family prioritized my needs over the show's, was a touching reminder of the human core at the heart of the Star Trek saga. It felt as if life imitated art, embodying the very ideals we sought to portray.

As the day turned into a whirlwind, I found myself struggling to remember all the details. Seeking clarity for this story, I asked my fellow actors about their recollections. David Benjamin Tomlinson, known for his role as Linus, recalled, "The thing I remember most was watching you between takes, in the green room, on your phone, staying in touch with your wife. Despite everything, you were cool as a cucumber when shooting." Anthony Rapp, who plays Commander Paul Stamets, shared, "Beyond your joyful giddiness and insistence that you were good with staying as long as you could, it was impressive how focused you remained."

David Benjamin Tomlinson as Linus and Patrick Kwok-Choon as Gen Rhys behind the scenes on the set of Star Trek: Discovery

Patrick Kwok-Choon

While the comments from my colleagues might suggest that I was unfazed despite the day's mounting pressures, the reality is much more complex. After some reflection, I've realized that my apparent calmness was the result of a specific combination of factors. The first ingredient is what I call 'fanboy professionalism.' As a lifelong fan of Star Trek, stepping into the captain's chair carries a profound sense of duty and reverence. This deep respect for the franchise ensures I come to the set well-prepared, which in turn allows me to remain composed, even amid personal challenges. Knowing the scene inside and out, I relied on my preparation to maintain focus, despite the unexpected curveball that day.

The second element stems from my neurodivergence. Over the years, I've become adept at masking my true emotions, a skill that's almost second nature. This ability to compartmentalize allowed me to maintain a composed exterior, even though internally I was fraught with worry about my wife’s health and the fear of missing the birth of our child. Although I appeared collected, beneath the surface, I was navigating a torrent of emotions — nervousness, anxiety, and immense anticipation — which, fortunately, proved useful to the scene itself in the captain's chair.

Anthony Rapp visits Patrick Kwok-Choon's baby

Patrick Kwok-Choon

Lastly, the unwavering support and affection from my colleagues on set provided the final piece of this tranquility puzzle. Knowing that everyone was prepared to expedite my departure — ensuring I could be there for my wife when the moment came — offered a profound sense of security and reinforced my faith that everything would be okay.

Fun fact: An endearing twist in the day's events involved a covert backup plan set up by production, unbeknownst to me. A colleague from the production office was whisked away to wardrobe and fitted into one of my spare uniforms. The idea was for him to stand in for certain camera shots that didn’t require my face to be seen if I had to leave suddenly. The amusing part? He hadn't been told exactly why he was chosen for this task! It still makes me laugh to think about how baffled he must have been. I'm incredibly grateful to this brave employee, and I send my thanks for his unknowing support.

Fortunately, the need for a backup never arose. My call time was at 11 AM, and I completed all my scenes just before 8 PM. Bursting with excitement, I remember dashing off the set, shouting, "I'M GOING TO HAVE A BABY!" to the applause of the cast and crew.

Gen Rhys sits in the center seat on the bridge of U.S.S. Discovery in 'Labyrinths'


It felt like I was in the midst of a real-life Red Alert. My departure was as swift as an emergency evacuation, each minute adding to the urgency. When I arrived home, I found my wife grappling with intense contractions, with our neighbor at her side. Kneeling beside my wife, I gently encouraged her to breathe. Although she couldn’t meet my gaze due to the pain, she heard my voice and responded, which helped her navigate past this intense wave. At last, I was where I needed to be.

The timing of the contractions escalated to a point that necessitated calling the midwife, who arrived promptly after our call. By 9 PM, following her examination, she advised that it was time to head to the hospital. Despite having missed the earlier part of the day, I felt profound relief that I had made it just in time for the crucial part — the delivery.

A shirtless Patrick Kwok-Choon holds his newborn baby against his chest

Patrick Kwok-Choon

Here comes my admission of a fumbled captaincy. Early on, my wife decided on a no-epidural birth, but informed me she was open to using laughing gas if the pain became too intense. Amid the chaos, like a rookie ensign on his first away mission, I completely forgot to make that request. My wife went into delivery without any pain relief at all!

I'll spare you the details, but the day's chaos, stress, and joys on set were merely a speck compared to the actual birthing experience. Let me commend all mothers out there — you possess the strength and resilience of a thousand Worfs! My wife's contractions began at 3 AM on September 30, 2022, and almost 24 hours later, at 2:29 AM on October 1, our child was born.

Patrick Kwok-Choon takes a selfie in his living room with his baby swaddled against his body

Patrick Kwok-Choon

As I held my newborn in my arms, I reflected not just on the day's events, but on all the paths that had led to this moment. If it weren't for Star Trek, my life would have unfolded very differently. I am deeply grateful to my Star Trek: Discovery family for their support. This moment, etched deeply in my heart, is a story I felt compelled and proud to share.

I hope I've been able to provide you with a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the life of a television show, capturing the essence of camaraderie and support that transcends the ordinary. Over the past five years, our cast and crew have grown from colleagues into a family. Together, we've embarked on our own five-year voyage, navigating not just the stars, but the highs and lows of life itself.

Patrick Kwok-Choon's baby wearing a Star Trek baby shirt

Patrick Kwok-Choon

Each member, from the costume team to the crew, lighting technicians to camera operators, sound technicians, and more, consistently demonstrated the spirit of 'all hands-on deck,' especially when emergencies arose. On the day my wife went into labor, this incredible team coalesced with a singular purpose — to support one of their own. Their readiness to adapt and rally was not just professional; it was profoundly personal.

I felt safe, protected, and deeply indebted to everyone present that day. Their actions not only ensured that I could be there for the birth of my child, but also solidified my profound connection to this unique family. As I reflect on my time on the show, I view it as one of the great blessings of my life. I eagerly await the day I can share these stories with my child. As we watch "Labryinths" together, I'll point to the screen and say, 'And this is the exact moment when Dad was at work and Mom was at home, about to have you!' That moment will serve as a testament to the care and support we extend to each other beyond the cameras, a testament to our journey together as our own little starship on a mission to entertain and inspire.