Spock is not the comic relief in the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, but somehow, he’s hilarious. This isn’t a break with canon, to be clear. From Leonard Nimoy in The Original Series to Zachary Quinto in the reboot films, and now Ethan Peck, Spock has often brought the laughs, even if by accident.
But why is Spock — the Sherlockian paragon of logic and emotional control — so hilarious? Ahead of the May 5 launch of Strange New Worlds on Paramount+, Inverse caught up with Ethan Peck to figure out why Spock and humor are a totally logical combination.
When asked why Spock seems funny so often, Ethan Peck tells Inverse, “I mean, he’s such a weirdo. Like such a strange guy. And earnest. He doesn’t understand — or seems not to understand, comedic timing. But, as the actor, I hope that I do understand comedic timing and can maneuver him in these situations in ways that are amusing.”
“He’s such a weirdo.”
Although Peck is the third actor to take over the role of Spock full time, he’s also been playing the character since 2019 in Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, during which time Spock was emotionally disturbed, arguing with his human stepsister Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and rocking an angsty beard.
In Strange New Worlds, Spock has ditched the beard but not the repressed Vulcan emotional baggage. For Peck, time has given him a chance to become more familiar than he was a few years back.
“This thing that is being Spock, and Star Trek being in my life, the onus of that has become less uncomfortable,” Peck says. “And that just gives me more freedom to explore and experiment. While we're filming, I just feel much more license to try things out. I think I have a much greater familiarity with what I believe the character to be.”
But who is Spock at this point in the Star Trek timeline? Somewhat infamously, Spock’s behavior in the first pilot for The Original Series, “The Cage,” included him shouting and even smiling. In the rest of The Original Series, Spock was much more stoic, constantly repressing his emotions.
“We’re finding out more and more about him.”
Because Strange New Worlds is set before The Original Series, but after “The Cage” and Discovery Season 2, fans should expect to see a new side of Spock in a time of his life we’ve never glimpsed before. If you think you know the whole story of Spock, think again.
“I think that we're finding out more and more about him, which is so essential,” Peck explains, while also noting there’s a lot of humor and fun in that expanding story.
“We can put him in these scenarios and make him say something that he shouldn't be saying or something that he doesn't want to be saying, or doing something he doesn't want to be doing. And it can be pretty hilarious,” Peck says. “Just because he's this very serious, rational, focused person doesn't mean that we can have a lot of fun with him.”
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds hits Paramount+ on May 5, 2022.