As a highly referential series, Star Trek: Lower Decks has beamed many live-action characters into the world of animation. Seasons one and two saw Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis as cartoon versions of Will Riker and Deanna Troi, now aboard the USS Titan. Lycia Naff, who played Ensign Gomez on a handful of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes returned in animated form as Captain Gomez of the USS Archimedes. Even Star Trek: Voyager‘s Robert Duncan McNeill showed up as a Tom Paris commemorative plate.
But for season two of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Lower Decks stars Tawny Newsome and Jack Quaid will be boldly going where no character has gone before: from animation to live action. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Quaid confirmed that he and Newsome will be in costume as Ensigns Beckett Mariner and Brad Boimler, respectively. While Quaid is aware of speculation on the internet about the episodes, here he clarified, “we already shot it, and it’s Tawny Newsome and I as the live-action versions of our animated characters.” The actor could not “get into plot details or anything,” but did admit, “yes, I’m going to have purple hair, we had uniforms made.” Even better, he and Newsome got to leave the recording booth and “step on board the Enterprise, which was really interesting.”
Some may assume that the biggest challenge for the episode would be melding the tones of the two shows. After all, while Lower Decks does take place within Star Trek continuity, set in 2380 (a year after Star Trek: Nemesis), it remains very aware of our modern world, as indicated by the aforementioned Tom Paris plate and an appearance by the infamous Spock helmet. However, even with only one season under its belt, Strange New Worlds has shown that it can be very playful. That’s most obvious in the fairy tale episode “The Elysian Kingdom,” but also in its unexpected fan service, referencing a character from a little-loved movie.
For Quaid, the biggest difficulty was figuring out how to be true to his character in a different medium. “What do you do? What’s too much? What’s too little? How do you stay in the voice?” he found himself asking. “How do you bring some physicality to it? How does the character move on the animated show, and how can you make that work in live action?”
Fortunately, Quaid found himself aided by an easy friendship with Strange New World‘s Mr. Spock, Ethan Peck. “Ethan Peck and I have a firm bromance now,” Quaid revealed. “He’s amazing.” It will be interesting to see how that bromance plays out on screen. While Spock will likely appreciate Boimler’s commitment to protocol, especially compared to Mariner, the ensign’s earnestness may be too much for the stoic half-Vulcun. One can’t help but recall the relationship between Tuvok and Neelix on Voyager.
However it plays out, Quaid did drop one more compelling hint. “And there are going to be animated elements to it, but not like a Roger Rabbit with cartoons and real people mixed together,” he told THR. “You’ll see how it all works out. It’s pretty cool.” While we won’t get to see how it plays out until Strange New Worlds releases its second season, we can see animated Boimler on Lower Decks season three, now streaming on Paramount+.