The Inverse Interview

Strange New Worlds Star Explains How To Play Spock — As A Woman.

Gia Sandhu dives deep into “Spock Amok.”

Originally Published: 
Gia Sandhu as T'Pring in 'Strange New Worlds.'

Which eyebrow does Spock lift?

For Strange New Worlds actress Gia Sandhu, getting the eyebrow thing right was crucial and also difficult. “My face naturally wants to lift my left eyebrow,” Sandhu tells Inverse. “Whereas Ethan [Peck], lifts his right eyebrow was Spock!”

In Strange New Worlds episode 5, “Spock Amok,” hijinks ensue when something very unusual happens to Spock and T’Pring. Here’s how Gia Sandhu manages to imbue a legacy ‘60s Star Trek character with new vibrancy, but also, convincingly play Spock trapped in T’Pring’s body. Spoilers ahead for Strange New Worlds Episode 5, “Spock Amok.”

“[Spock and T’Pring] are doing the ultimate version of long distance.”

Fulfilling the promise of Strange New Worlds showrunner Henry Alonso Myers to “bring the funny to Star Trek,” episode 5 finds Spock and his fiancée T’Pring accidentally switching bodies after a super-intimate kind of Vulcan mind-meld. If you know your Trek, you’re aware that Spock's consciousness, or katra, has been put in someone else’s body before, in fact, more than once. In the 1968 episode “Return to Tomorrow,” Spock’s brain briefly inhabits Nurse Chapel’s body, while in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Spock’s katra is carried by Dr. McCoy. But, in the time period of Strange New Worlds, none of that has happened yet.

Spock (Ethan Peck) and T’Pring (Gia Sandhu) share a moment on the Enterprise.


“Now is the past,” Gia Sandhu says with a laugh, referencing Strange New Worlds’ status as a prequel, but also a show set in 2259. “Or, the future, depending on how you look at it.”

In the mega-famous Original Series episode “Amok Time,” T’Pring was presented as Spock’s estranged fiancée, desperate to get rid of her Spock baggage. Starting with the very first episode of Strange New Worlds, we suddenly see T’Pring in a totally new light. At this point in Trek’s unfolding story, Sandhu says, “They’re trying to make it work.” She points out that the proof of this is that, speaking in Vulcan, Spock tells T’Pring he loves her.

“They're doing the ultimate version of long-distance, you know, living on different planets,” Sandhu explains. “Which is the reason that they're sharing katras. They want to understand each other better. They want to be more sympathetic towards each other's experiences.”

For Sandhu, playing T’Pring in Strange New Worlds presents a unique challenge. It’s a character hardcore fans are very familiar with, and yet, she was only in that one episode 1967 episode, played by the late Arlene Martel.

“She's on on screen for a short period of time, but she's just such a wonderful presence. You can't help but be drawn to her. It was an interesting experience for me to develop who this person was, when they were younger. There was this beautiful outline that was available to me. I feel lucky that, you know the pressure was taken off a bit, because you know, she wasn’t extraordinarily established, like a lot of the other characters in canon who we're seeing younger versions of now. I really got to fill in the blanks for myself.”

Sandhu also says that Bernadette Croft’s costumes on Strange New Worlds contribute to helping her create the character of T’Pring. But, she also reveals that the stunning dress worn by T’Pring in the dream sequence in “Spock Amok,” comes from fashion designer Iris van Herpen. “I don't know if I'll ever get to wear Iris van Herpen again, but boy did I delight in wearing it. For that day.”

Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and T’Pring (Arlene Martel) in “Amok Time.”

“I had to do my face yoga to get that right.”

Although Sandhu was a fan of The Next Generation when she was younger, she did a deep dive into all things Star Trek to prepare for her role as T’Pring. In fact, her research even extended to the other prequel series, Star Trek: Enterprise. “My mom’s partner Rick was very excited when I was cast,” she says. “And he said, ‘Okay, now you have to watch T’Pol [played by Jolene Blalock], she was the ultimate female Vulcan we’ve seen the most of.’”

But, in the episode “Spock Amok,” Sandhu wasn’t only playing T’Pring. Because Spock inhabits T’Pring’s body for most of the episode, Sandhu had to figure out how to play Spock, convincingly, even if he was moving with T’Pring’s body and speaking with T’Pring’s voice. This meant starting with “the source material”; watching a lot of Leonard Nimoy. But Sandhu also says she and Peck collaborated hugely on this episode: “Ethan is a very generous actor and really opened up to me about his process and what he thinks about when he plays Spock...his body language is big. He stands very upright, you know, with his hands behind his back.”

As an experienced actress, all of the challenges of playing Spock were within Sandhu’s grasp, but, yes, doing the eyebrow thing was difficult. “I couldn't for the life of me get my right eyebrow up. And Ethan was like, It's fine. It's fine. I do them both. And I'm like, no you don’t,” she says. “I knew some fans out there would clock that, so I had to do my face yoga to get that right.”

Gia Sandhu as T’Pring...or Spock?


After this utterly hilarious, and also, smartly sweet episode, Sandhu can’t reveal if we’ll see more of T’Pring in Strange New Worlds. And yet, it seems impossible that this is her last appearance. In The Original Series, we saw Spock and T’Pring at the end of their melodramatic journey, but here, they’re at the beginning, which also includes a love triangle!

“We find we find two young beings who love each other,” Sandhu says. “But they also have Nurse Chapel crushing on Spock! And that drives another little wedge in there. Let’s just say, they have a lot of challenges.”

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds airs on Paramount+.

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