While some Trekkies were conflicted about parts of Star Trek: Picard Season 1, everyone agreed that Laris was great. Irish actress Orla Brady only appeared in three episodes of Season 1 but has a much bigger role in Season 2, including a second character. And, it turns out, Brady partially credits huge fan support for her big comeback. Here’s how she approached her new role as Tallinn, and why both of her characters are vital to the story of Jean-Luc Picard. Spoilers ahead for Picard Season 2, Episode 5, “Fly Me to the Moon.”
In Season 1, Laris and her husband Zhaban (Jamie McShane) were former Romulan Tal Shiar secret agents working for Jean-Luc as not-so-secret bodyguards. Brady tells Inverse that she feels her part in Season 1 wasn’t extensive because it was “part of the prologue... just a slightly more functional role. It was just getting us the backstory of where Picard had been.”
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But after a tremendous outpouring of fan love for Laris (including several videos and memes of her saying “Cheeky Feckers”), it was eventually decided that Brady would be back in a big way for Season 2. In Season 1, she was a guest star, but in Season 2 she’s a regular cast member.
“Laris seemed to love Picard [in Season 1],” Brady tells Inverse. “I think it was commented on by fans and the writers kind of responded to that. They felt that could naturally blossom into a story between them.”
That’s at least partly why she has such a big role in Season 2. But what about this new human version, the mysterious 2024 Supervisor named Tallinn who just happens to look exactly like Laris?
“The reason they decided, I think, to ask the same actor to play [Tallinn] is it's almost like [Picard] has once again stepped away. In Episode 1 he’s not quite been able to go there with Laris. He denies his feelings and then does what he always does, which is that Captain Picard is called for and he leaves. But it’s like fate will not let him off the hook. The person thrown in his path is strongly reminiscent of Laris. It keeps him in a zone of emotion.”
As the mysterious Watcher, Brady’s second character is a part of a group of humans who live on Earth but are trained by advanced aliens. First introduced in the 1968 episode, “Assignment: Earth,” these “Class 1 Supervisors” are like secret agents who wield tech and powers reminiscent of Doctor Who.
The original Class 1 Supervisor was Gary Seven (Robert Lansing), who had a black cat called Isis that seemed to be a shape-shifter. Brady joked about this connection in a tweet that read: “That faraway look of a woman trying to remember if she was a cat once, or if she just dreamed she was…”
So will we get more answers about how Tallinn connects to Gary Seven? Will Picard Season 2 explain why Tallinn and Laris look identical, even though one is a human in 2024 and the other a Romulan in 2401? What’s in store for Orla Brady later this season?
“[Tallinn] does reference Gary Seven, much much more,” Brady reveals. “She is one of the Supervisors and is not Laris. Is there a connection? Yes, we will hear that there is.”
Back in 1968, Gene Roddenberry tried to create an “Assignment: Earth” spinoff starring Gary Seven. With Orla Brady playing two characters in Trek canon, it seems like we could see a lot more of her, even in a hypothetical spin-off. Could it happen?
“It's never up to the actor, it's always up to where the story goes,” Brady says. “But it’s been such a pleasure to be part of this universe. I love the character. But the second great pleasure was working with Patrick [Stewart]. And then the third great pleasure for me is the fans. I'm gobsmacked. I'm knocked out by the fans because they're funny, thoughtful, and very clever, and very inventive. It's such a dimension of life that I haven't had before.”
Star Trek: Picard Season 2 airs new episodes on Thursdays on Paramount+.