The Inverse Interview

Star Trek's Big Crossover Star Is Ready For More Live Action — With a Catch

Tawny Newsome reveals the secrets of Strange New Worlds, Lower Decks, and why she’ll play Mariner for as long as she can.

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 23: Tawny Newsome speaks onstage at the Star Trek Universe Panel during...
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
The Inverse Interview
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The most outspoken Star Trek star wasn’t allowed to talk about her biggest Star Trek moment. Before the Strange New Worlds/Lower Decks crossover episode aired, Tawny Newsome was sworn to secrecy. Then, when “Those Old Scientists” did finally drop, the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike prevented her from promoting her biggest projects. And so, it’s only now, that Newsome can open up about her experiences filming “Those Old Scientists,” her thoughts on Mariner’s emotional arc in Lower Decks Season 4, and why she is ready for more live-action Star Trek, with certain conditions.

Just before Thanksgiving, Inverse sat down with the ever-hilarious, always brilliant Tawny Newsome to literally catch up on everything we’ve been unable to hear directly from her.

Spoilers for Lower Decks Season 4 and Strange New Worlds Season 2 ahead.

“It's so weird because when [“Those Old Scientists”] came out I had so many things I was bursting to say,” Newsome says. “But, what's interesting now is that looking at the fan chatter online, people have inferred so much about the process. And they are all correct. Basically, the fans were right.”

Newsome says that filming “Those Old Scientists” for Strange New Worlds was “a ton of fun,” and that she was “delighted in those group scenes.” Overall, she felt that despite the fact that a huge portion of the Strange New Worlds cast were “traditional dramatic actors,” she felt they were funnier than her. “I was like, you guys are the funny ones. We’re just trying to keep up. Chrissy Chong is f*cking hilarious. I was like girl, you need to be doing comedy.”

Mariner (Tawny Newsome) joins the landing party with La’an (Christina Chong), Captain Pike (Anson Mount), and Boimler (Jack Quaid).


Newsome also revealed that she was able to specifically write a joke for Spock (Ethan Peck) on the fly, during filming. It’s the hilarious moment after which Mariner reveals she’s been paying attention and Spock explains the joke with stoic seriousness.

“Jonathan Frakes loved the line, but he comes up to me and is like, we should give that line to Spock,” Newsome explains. “And I was like, f*ck yea, we should. It was the perfect move, and a perfect harmony of me getting to improvise. Ethan just knocked it out of the park with a deadpan delivery, and I was like this IS STAR TREK!!”

Newsome also says that as a director, Frakes relied on his experience of having been a Star Trek actor, and made sure that the uniforms worn by her and Jack Quaid were up to snuff. “He came in during early costume fittings and was really specific about the amount of point that the shirt had. He’s like, ‘if that thing’s too pointy, it’s going to flip up and you’re going to be Picard-maneuvering constantly [tugging down the shirt] constantly. He was right.”

Mariner in the 'Star Trek: Lower Decks' Season 4 finale.


In the Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 finale, the animated comedy series filled out Mariner’s backstory in a way that directly connected the character to the canon of The Next Generation, specifically the episodes “The First Duty,” and the original “Lower Decks.” For Newsome, this character arc was a dream come true, but she also felt that this was the right time for Lower Decks to hit a more serious note.

“It felt so earned,” Newsome explains. “The fact we don’t get her deep-dark backstory about Sito and the academy until Episode 9 of Season 4 is delicious to me. We laughed and we were entertained and it was so Star Trekky and action-packed. I loved getting the chance to do that because it is lovely to show other more nuanced sides of characters that we think we know. And that's also kind of how I am in my life. I'm always f*cking around and joking around and being a goddamn clown all the time, but when someone's going through a hard time, I'm really good at being very earnest and being there for them and I can kind of drop into that quickly.”

Newsome is a diehard Star Trek fan and often cites Deep Space Nine as her favorite Trek ever. “I’ve made it clear that I’m a hardcore Deep Space Niner.” So, because the era of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager could hypothetically continue with a Picard spinoff series — the much-discussed Legacy series — could Newsome see herself in that future? We have Lieutenant Mariner right now, but what about a live-action Commander Mariner?

Tawny Newsome and Gates McFadden at Yuri's Night in Los Angeles in April 2023.

Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Newsome doesn’t say no to a more serious — and totally hypothetical — Commander Mariner. She is, however, clear that she doesn’t want to take Mariner too far into the realm of a character who is fundamentally different than the character he created, for very specific reasons. “I think I've been very vocal about how women of my age, especially Black women, the roles we get offered and the roles we tend to play aren't always as fun and quirky and dynamic and hard comedy as I would like,” Newsome explains. “And so I've really been very selective in my career. Maybe much to my bank account's chagrin. I don't want to play crossed-armed DA’s and stern judges and crying moms. It's just not for me and my spirit. So Mariner is such a delightful joy. She is my favorite thing to play.”

So, assuming the soul of Mariner remained intact in another live-action Trek? Would she again don an actual uniform? “Oh, I'll happily play any iteration of her in live-action,” Newsome says with a laugh. “I think in the Legacy era though, I don't know how old I would have to be. Mariner's age is confusing to me, but who cares? Yeah, sure, I'll show up!”

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Star Trek: Lower Decks are streaming on Paramount+.

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