Star Trek: Strange New Worlds showrunner teases Lower Decks crossover

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
(Image credit: Paramount)

"There's some surprises in there…" Akiva Goldsman tells SFX magazine of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 in the latest issue (which features the show on the cover). Luckily for all the spoilerphobes among us, he's not giving up anything too major. "Yeah, there are more Gorn in season two," he's happy to reveal. 

"I think one of the big swings is out there, right?" he laughs when SFX tries to push for more hints and teases. "We do a crossover with Lower Decks and that's fun. We had a really good time doing that and got to work with our extended family from the other show, both on camera and off. And of course Jonathan Frakes directed it. So in many ways it's a Star Trek melting pot, that episode. And there are more, but far be it for me to spoil…"

Frakes, we tell Goldsman, did reveal details of the animation and live-action episode in SFX earlier this year. "Here’s the thing: Jonathan should never ever, ever have a state secret. There's not a thing Jonathan won't tell you. I would say it's because you could ply him with drink, but really, no plying required. I will say to you that there are full-on animated pieces of the episode. But the hero portion of the episode is on Enterprise, in the Strange New Worlds universe."

Not only are they faced with the challenge of blending animation with live-action, they're also mixing two different styles of show. Is it difficult to integrate drama with comedy? 

"Yes!" Goldsman laughs. "It is! It's also difficult to integrate anime with non-anime because tonally they're different. Really, it's a credit to Tawny [Newsome, as Mariner] and Jack [Quaid, as Boimler], because the way you play a character in animation and the way you play a character in live action requires a different level, a different sort of modulation of performance. You have different tools at your disposal – the number of muscles in a human face, compared to the absolute lack of detail in a drawn face, especially the way we do it on Lower Decks. Think how that changes the demonstration of emotion.

"And that's just an example of how wildly different the kind of acting you do in a voice booth is from the kind of acting you do on-screen," he continues. "It's really translation, more than I think any of us do. We discovered it in the script phase because our writers, we're all an arm's throw from each other on the Star Trek shows, right?

"So Mike McMahan was right there with us on this, and we would work with their animation people and their animation studio," he says. "We have some writers who have been on Lower Decks, we would write these Strange New Worlds sections and try to put them together and you couldn't exactly. It had to find the tone of the episode that was sort of both things, rather than let it be exactly Lower Decks in tone or exactly Strange New Worlds. It was easier with Strange New Worlds in a weird way, because we jump around town so much. It was fun, but sort of more challenging, I think, than we thought setting out."

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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is on Paramount Plus from 15 June. That's just a snippet of our interview, available in the latest issue of SFX Magazine, which features Strange New Worlds season 2 on the cover and is available on newsstands from Wednesday, May 17. For even more from SFX, sign up to the newsletter, sending all the latest exclusives straight to your inbox.

I'm the Editor of SFX, the world's number one sci-fi, fantasy and horror magazine – available digitally and in print every four weeks since 1995. I've been editing magazines, and writing for numerous publications since before the Time War. Obviously SFX is the best one. I knew being a geek would work out fine.