Following Thursdayâs appearance of Jaason Isaacs, Friday saw the second Star Trek: Discovery actor to appear at Star Trek Las Vegas with Rainn Wilson, and it was his first time at STLV too. The actor who stepped into the iconic role of Harry Mudd forÂ two episodes during DiscoveryâsÂ first season talked about why he wanted the job so badly. He also offered some clues about his upcoming Short Treks episode, gave some behind the scenes details for season one, and even talked a littleÂ Galaxy Quest.
At San Diego Comic-Con it was announced that this fall CBS All Access would begin running a series calledÂ Star Trek: Short Treks, which would be a series of short character-focused mini-episodes tied intoÂ Discovery. One of the Short Treks episodes will focus on the character of Harry Mudd, with Rainn Wilson reprising the role and directing the episode.
At STLV, Wilson said that he wasnât too sure about the project when he was first approached by Discovery producers, but changed his mind when he saw the âfantasticâ script, which he revealed was written by one writers for the hit cult sci-fi animated seriesÂ Rick and Morty. Here is how Wilson described his Short Treks episode:
It is very funny and weird. You see some alien situations you have never seen before in the Star Trek canon, and I am thrilled.
When asked how it ties into the timeline of his previous two episodes from Discovery, Wilson replied:
I am assuming it is after [âMagic to Make the Sanest Man Go Madâ], but it stands alone. It doesnât really tie into the Discovery, so I am not sure.
Wilson said that even though he directed a number of episodes ofÂ The Office, working on Star Trek was more intricate as there were no special effects. He has been paired up with a story board artist and described the process thus:
I am learning a ton. I feel really privileged to be able to do it. I think the fans are just going to love this.
Getting the job on Star Trek was something Wilson actively perused, as he is a self-described âhuge Trekkie,â telling the crowd he asked his agent to reach out to the producers of the show after it was initially announced. There was a meeting set up early on as the show was in development, but the producers told him that he wasnât a fit for any of the series regulars. Wilson said getting asked later to come and play Harry Mudd was âliterally my dream come true.â
Wilson also described how he especially nerded out shooting his second episode because he was able to shoot a phaser, get transported and sit in the Captainâs chair. He was particularly proud to be the only non-Captain to ever record a Captainâs Log in Star Trek, which he said was his idea.
Wilson talked about the approach to ârebootâ the character of Harry Mudd for Discovery. He had high praise for the original actor to play the part, Roger C. Carmel, but also noted that the show needed a different approach:
I talked a lot to the writers about what theÂ Star Trek: Discovery universe was. It is a time of war with the Klingons, and it is much darker, and it needs to reflect our modern timesâŠWe talked a little bit about the role that Harry Mudd would play and what he is up to and I knew I had to bring a kind of edge to him, that hadnât been in the character previously, in order to make him fit in. If you took Roger Carmel and put him intoÂ DiscoveryÂ it wouldnât work.
He found it exciting to play a character that was âpart villain and part comic relief,â also noting âDiscovery could use a little laughter. It is just so damn serious all the time.â As a fan, Wilson said he always liked how âhumor has always been a partâ of Star Trek.Â Later during the Q&A Wilson confirmed that he was allowed to improvise a lot during the shooting of his two episodes, adding he was glad the show allowed him to use what he sees as one of his strengths.
When a fan suggested that his Mudd was actually from the Mirror Universe, Wilson dismissed the notion, but he did note he âsure would love to meet the Mirror Universe Harry Mudd. He would just be a mean bastard. He would fâk you up.â
Wilson talked at length about life on the set for his two episode. His first day on the job for DiscoveryÂ was âa little intimidating and overwhelming,â especially as he was thrown right into a scene without rehearsal with Jason Isaacs, adding howÂ he had to be on the top of his game to âgo toe-to-toeâ Isaacs. The actor also noted that at first it was âtrickyâ to find the âvoiceâ of his version of Mudd, who had a more flowery way of speaking, especially compared to other characters withinÂ Discovery
Regarding his second episode, âMagic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad,â Wilson revealed he had to think fast on his feet as the script that was shot was âcompletely differentâ than the script he was given the week before production started. However, he also had high praise for writer and co-executive producer (and not the credited writer for the episode) Ted Sullivan for making it work, saying:
It was pretty early on in the series and there had been some writer turnover. They were really finding their sea legs as a series. So, a lot of it was scrapped and rewritten at the last minute, or the three or four days before we starting shooting there was a mammoth rewrite on that Mudd stuff.
I just want to give a shout-out to a very special writer on the current staff named Ted Sullivan. He is really something. He flew in from LA and he really helped me a lot, with the character and with the plotting. The directors were great as well, but he is a great resource in the Star Trek universe. I really enjoyed working with him. I think he really got Harry Muddâs voice and he is a great asset to that writerâs room.
Rainn Wilson noted when he got on stage at Star Trek Las Vegas that it was âlike Galaxy Quest come to life,â referring to the 1999 parody/homage to Star Trek, which was also his first job as an actor in a feature film. He was particularly impressed to see some cosplayers as Thermians, like his character from Galaxy Quest. Later on he joked he was âhaving flashbacksâ to the movie and how he was expecting a space ship to crash into the convention, as it did in the film.
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