Strange New Worlds shockingly reboots 3 classic Star Trek characters
Uhura, Chapel and M'Benga are back from the '60s with all new actors.
The classic Enterprise crew is back.
After reintroducing Captain Pike (Anson Mount), Mr. Spock (Ethan Peck), and Number One (Rebecca Romijn) in Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 back in 2019, the highly anticipated spin-off show — Strange New Worlds — is bringing back even more classic 1960s Trek characters.
During the 2021 “Star Trek Day” celebrations on September 8, Paramount+ officially revealed that three characters from The Original Series would be returning for Strange New Worlds, played by new actors.
Here’s what the new cast announcement means and how it all shakes out with the groovy 1966 vision of the future. Mild spoilers ahead for Star Trek: The Original Series.
Strange New Worlds character trailer
The festivities of “Star Trek Day” featured, among other things, a panel discussion about the upcoming series Strange New Worlds. And within that panel, it was finally revealed who the rest of the cast is playing. Watch the character trailer reveal, and read on for a full breakdown of the actors and their roles.
To recap that trailer briefly, here’s the full cast:
- Anson Mount as Captain Pike
- Ethan Peck as Spock
- Rebecca Romijn as Una Chin-Riley AKA “Number One” (Previously, we’d only know her name was “Una”)
- Celia Rose Gooding as Cadet Nyota Uhura
- Jess Bush as Nurse Christine Chapel
- Babs Olusanmokun as Dr. M’Benga
- Bruce Horak as Hemmer (an off-shoot of the Andorian species called an Aenar.)
- Christina Chong as La’an Noonein-Singh
- Melissa Navia as Lt. Erica Ortegas
The big news here is that three legacy characters are returning to the Trek universe, specifically, Uhura, Chapel and M’Benga. And, unlike the 2009 J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot, we will see these characters in the Prime Timeline as a prequel to The Original Series. Here’s what that means for each character and how they fit into the old-school Trek storyline.
Although he was not a regular character on TOS, the character of Dr. M’Benga appeared in two episodes and was played by Booker Bradshaw.
Within the context of TOS, M’Benga was an expert on Vulcan physiology. Some of the non-canon novels (like The Vulcan Academy Murders) revealed that M’Benga spent time as a doctor on the planet Vulcan. Whether or not Strange New Worlds will connect with that continuity remains to be seen, but now, it appears that M’Benga served on the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 way before Kirk took over and TOS began.
Funnily enough, just like the character of Number One, Nurse Chapel was also played by Majel Barret Roddenberry in The Original Series. Although never billed as part of the regular cast, Nurse Chapel appeared in 25 episodes of The Original Series and nine episodes of The Animated Series. In episodes like “The Naked Now” and “Amok Time,” it was made pretty clear that Nurse Chapel was in love with Mr. Spock.
Now, Strange New Worlds will reveal that Chapel and Spock served together on the Enterprise for at least a few years longer than we had previously known. The Original Series spans 2265 thru 2270, but Strange New Worlds will begin in roughly 2258 or 2259, well before the events of TOS occur.
Cadet Nyota Uhura
Although her first name wasn’t uttered on screen until the 2009 Star Trek reboot, Uhura is, of course, one of the most famous characters from The Original Series. Played by Nichelle Nichols, Uhura appeared in nearly every episode of The Original Series, all six classic films. In the three reboot films, she was played by Zoe Saldana. But, we have never had an origin story for Uhura until now.
In Strange New Worlds, Uhura is not yet Lieutenant Uhura, but rather, a cadet just out of Starfleet Academy. Correlatively, this puts Uhura at the same point in her life as Tilly on Star Trek: Discovery. The retcon here is pretty great: It turns out Uhura was serving on the Enterprise as a cadet under Captain Pike, well before she became a full officer. Now that Celia Rose Gooding will play her on the new series, we may finally get to see the full story of who Uhura is and what her journey and Starfleet were all about.
Of all the surprise reveals, the idea that Uhura will again be a part of an ongoing Trek series is not only exciting but comforting, too. As the communications officer of the Enterprise, Uhura was both bold and kind — which really captures what Star Trek is all about.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds premieres on Paramount+ sometime in 2022.