The Big Picture
- Tawny Newsome discusses the excitement of tying Mariner to important moments in Star Trek history and how it makes her feel part of the world.
- Newsome shares her experience playing a younger, more idealistic version of Mariner and how it showcases her character’s geeky side.
- Newsome talks about filming the Strange New Worlds crossover with Jack Quaid and working in the writers room for Starfleet Academy.
Star Trek: Lower Decks recently wrapped its fourth season on Paramount+, bringing fans an epic installment filled with surprise guests and emotional character arcs for our favorite lower deckers. Season 4 saw Mariner, Boimler, Tendi, Rutherford, and T’Lyn take a trip on the USS Voyager, go head-to-head with a Betazoid spy force, and so much more following their promotions to junior-grade Lieutenants.
Following the resolution of the SAG-AFTRA strike, I was able to catch up with the incomparable Tawny Newsome to chat about Season 4 and all of the amazing things we watched Mariner get up to this summer. During our conversation, Newsome spoke about playing a younger, more idealistic version of Mariner in the season finale and shared that Season 5 — which the cast is already recording — will see her take a more mature approach to Starfleet while still maintaining her chaotic nature. She also spoke about filming the beloved crossover episode which saw Newsome and her Lower Decks co-star Jack Quaid play live-action versions of their characters on Strange New Worlds.
Newsome also shared high praise for her fellow writers on the upcoming Star Trek spin-off series Starfleet Academy. The Lower Decks actress spoke about the honor of having her character integrated into so many beloved storylines from the franchise, the relationship between Mariner and the Cerritos’ newest addition T’Lyn, and revealed the headcanon she has about Mariner that she’d like to see make it into the series. You can read the full transcript of our conversation below.
Star Trek: Lower Decks
Behind every great captain, is a crew keeping the ship from falling to pieces. These are the hilarious stories of the U.S.S. Cerritos.
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- dawnn lewis, Gillian Vigman, Jerry O’Connell, Fred Tatasciore, Tawny Newsome, Jack Quaid, Noel Wells, Eugene Cordero
- Animation, Comedy, Sci-Fi
- Star Trek
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- Mike McMahan
‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Season 4 Ties ‘Next Generation’ Characters to Mariner’s Backstory
COLLIDER: I know you’re a big Trekkie yourself, so when Mike revealed that Sito was going to be a huge part of Mariner’s backstory, how did you react, and what did you want to bring to that storyline?
TAWNY NEWSOME: I felt so excited because any time Mike or the writers tie Mariner to important, big canonical moments, it absolutely makes my heart swell. Anytime he mentions that Mariner served on Deep Space Nine, first of all, or served in the Dominion War, all of that stuff just makes me like the world is real and like Tawny was actually in those things, which is not true, nor even logical because I’d be a terrible officer of that type. But I love when he ties her into those big moments. It just makes me feel like I’m part of this world, I’m part of the important moments in this world. So yeah, seeing her back at the Academy with Locarno and them, that was a huge moment for me. Having her be present the first time we meet Josh canonically, that’s the first time we meet the dude that died in the “First Duty” episode, that’s huge. I love it.
That’s amazing. You are such a huge part of this universe now, and I hope you know that.
NEWSOME: Thank you.
What was it like playing, in that flashback, such an idealistic version of Mariner? Because we’ve seen her in flashbacks before, but not this young, if I recall correctly.
NEWSOME: No, we have not seen her that young. We’ve not seen her that excited. She has a little bit of a Boimler energy, you know? She’s very geeked and excited. We haven’t seen her this fresh-faced and excited, and excited about things like Xeno history, but I love seeing that because I think if you’ve been watching Mariner for four seasons, you know that all that stuff is still in there. She still is really excited about Xeno history and science and the warp core, even. She just has a little bit of a jaded veneer over it, or she doesn’t want to show people because that’s just not how she rolls anymore. But I love reminders of, like, no, she’s still a big old geek. She’s just as much of a geek as Tendi is, as Boimler is. I love that stuff.
I love that! Is there another one-off character in the same vein as Sito and Nick that you would like to see in a future episode?
NEWSOME: I’m dying to see Curzon Dax. We’ve never actually seen Curzon. We saw René Auberjonois play a version of Curzon, but we’ve never actually seen him. Well, we saw a dead body on a table, before the whole internet is like, “No, actually, point of order!” Maybe he breathed or something, but I don’t think we heard his voice. So yeah, I wanna see that character come in.
Jack Quaid Was Tawny Newsome’s Biggest Cheerleader on Set for the Strange New Worlds Crossover Episode
That would be awesome. I have to ask about filming the crossover. That was an amazing episode, instantly an all-time favorite. What was it like to bring physicality to Mariner and to finally act face-to-face with Jack?
NEWSOME: I loved it. Jack is such a dear, dear friend. He really feels like family at this point. Not only was he having an incredible experience for himself as a fan and as someone who loves these characters, and him getting to bring Boimler to life was huge for him, but he was really taking the time to recognize that for me, as a lifelong fan, this was a true dream come true. So he was taking candid pictures of me so that I could have pictures of me on the set. He would keep his phone in his boot because there are no pockets in that fucking uniform, so he would keep his phone in his boot, which I think made him walk funny because you can’t really bend your foot well when there’s an iPhone in it so that he could pull it out surreptitiously and take pictures of me while he’s on set. Very bad behavior, but he did it out of love for me. And he would check in with me in between setups. He’d be like, “How is this for you? I can tell you’re feeling emotional. This seems really cool for you. I’m so proud of you. I’m so happy for you.” And it just felt like I had an incredible partner, an incredible cheerleader, and it just made my heart swell.
The other thing that was fun was Jonathan Frakes told costumes not to make the point of my shirt too pointy; otherwise, it would flip up all the time, and I’d be doing the Picard maneuver all the time. So that was a fun little tip from the guy who knows.
[Laughs] That’s so cute. So, I know you’re a writer for the new Starfleet Academy series. I know it’s still early, but can you tell us anything about that story and what we can expect to see?
NEWSOME: I can only tell you the things that were released in that press release before because, as a writer, it’s one thing if I say some shit I’m not supposed to do as an actor, as a writer, you get in way bigger trouble. So, my lips are sealed. What I can tell you, as you just saw earlier, our group chat pops off. We text a lot. There are a lot of memes flying around. There’s a lot of both Trek-related chatter and just general life chit-chat that I personally love. I love an active group chat. These people are all so sweet. Our showrunners, Noga Landau and Alex Kurtzman, assembled just the loveliest group of people, and it’s so nice to go to work with kind, sweet, cool people who love Star Trek. So, I think just all of that is what I can tell you, and I think that’s gonna translate to the wonderful time that the audience will have watching the show.
Fair enough! I think that Alex said earlier that it’s gonna be funny, so I’m very excited to see that.
NEWSOME: Look, if I get my way at all, trust that all I’m ever doing is pitching jokes. [Laughs] So yeah, I’m definitely pushing for that.
Tawny Newsome Says Mariner Is Trying to Make Starfleet Better in ‘Lower Decks’ Season 5
Bringing it back to Lower Decks, with Mariner and Jennifer being broken up, a lot of people got into the idea of seeing a little something between Mariner and T’Lyn. Can you tease anything about their relationship or what you’d like to see from them in the future?
NEWSOME: My favorite thing about Mariner and T’Lyn is that I love that the writers didn’t fall into that obvious trope of, like, “Well, here’s a new tough girl on the ship, so her and Mariner must not get along.” There was just none of that, and I love that. They instantly were just like, “Here’s how we figure out how to navigate each other, and support each other.” And that doesn’t mean they always have to agree. I think you saw in, like, Episode 9 T’Lyn gives Mariner a little bit of sass where she’s like, “Yeah, I bet she would have tried to kick that guy’s ass.” They definitely have banter and stuff, but there’s no baked-in animosity simply because T’Lyn is a new woman on the ship, so I love that. I love that they’re able to just be colleagues, and yeah, they have such different strengths. So I think we’re gonna continue in Season 5 to see how those things play and work together.
What Mike told me when I talked to him after the finale is that we’re gonna see a bit more joyful side of Mariner in Season 5. Can you tease anything about that?
NEWSOME: It’s so interesting to hear what Mike has said because I’m like, “I believe you, but I don’t remember.” I’m sure there’s joy. Yeah, I feel like there’s joy. I’m trying to remember anything specific. The thing I notice a lot about the Season 5 scripts, which we just got back into the room and started recording those, is that she has to navigate being, you know, she can’t just be reckless for recklessness’s sake anymore. She can’t do the self-destructive thing anymore. She really has to pick her battles, and she has to find the moments where she’s accepting the responsibility of her promotion but also still pushing and trying to make Starfleet better. So yeah, there’s a much more mature approach to things, but she’s still Mariner. She’s still an element of chaos in all things.
Excellent. Do you have any Mariner headcanons that you would like to see make it into the series?
NEWSOME: I would love them to have given her some kind of, I don’t know, I think we need to give her some time travel abilities or something because she knows too much. [Laughs] I think we need to learn that outside of “Those Old Scientists,” she just time-traveled around like she was there in the arena with the Gorn… She just knows too much about the world, so she’s got a little secret time travel deal on the side.
I love that. Just to end on a fun one, would you want a pet Moopsy?
NEWSOME: No! I don’t want my bones drunk! I want a Moopsy plushy.
I also want a Moopsy plushy!
NEWSOME: They’re just so cute. They made them too cute.
Season 4 of Star Trek: Lower Decks is now available to stream on Paramount+. Stay tuned at Collider for more updates on all things Star Trek.
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