Number One is here for a good time, and she’s also here to kick some ass. In the forthcoming series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds — hitting Paramount+ on May 5 — Rebecca Romijn reprises her role as the First Officer of the USS Enterprise, Una Chin-Riley, who in Trek canon was only known by her honorific, “Number One.” But after being a character with no backstory, Number One is set to become a hugely important Star Trek hero.
Inverse chatted briefly with Romijn about the expanding role of Una, the vibe of the new series, and how Strange New Worlds brings back that “groovy” old-school Star Trek feeling.
“In The Original Series we never saw a real character,” Romijn tells Inverse. “Number One was played by Majel Barrett Roddenberry in the original rejected pilot of Star Trek and had 14 minutes of screentime. But now, she has a name — Una Chin-Riley — and is basically a blank slate.”
Romijn adds, “The writers have done an incredible job of giving her a crazy backstory — which I can’t speak to yet. It’s an amazing opportunity.”
Although various Star Trek novels and comics have attempted to reconcile the canon of Number One and her backstory, the character didn’t actually re-enter canon until Discovery Season 2 in 2019, when Romijn began to develop the fully-realized version of Number One. Following that, we saw Number One in three episodes of the anthology series Short Treks, most notably, “Q&A,” in which her first name was finally established in canon. (“Una” had appeared in several novels before, however.)
However, like Majel Barrett’s Number One, Romijn imbues the character with a sense of the formidable, which Strange New Worlds balances with a degree of levity. Romijn is keenly aware of this specific Trek cocktail of contradictions.
“We're really trying to embrace the tone of The Original Series,” Romijn says. “Which was really funny, and really horrific and dark sometimes, and really sexy.”
Although Rebecca Romijn is married to Jerry O'Connell in real life — and O’Connell stars in the Star Trek adult comedy Lower Decks — that doesn’t mean Strange New Worlds is a Lower Decks-style comedy. Some of the episodes of Strange New Worlds are funny. Some aren’t. Some moments are hilarious while others are deadly serious. Romijn thinks all of this is because the cast and crew view themselves as “caretakers” of the spirit of classic ‘60s Star Trek.
“We’re very protective of The Original Series,” Romijn says. “So much so that the Enterprise itself is a character. It's groovy, sexy, and gorgeous. From a design perspective, our sets are incredible. They are super beautiful. And so is our show. I think The Original Series was sort of this utopian show, and we're really trying to embrace those optimistic themes, which I think we could really use right now.”
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds premieres May 5, 2022 on Paramount+.