Executive producer and show runner Bryan Fuller details the new Star Trek: Discovery show, set just years before Kirk with a possible black female main hero character.
Bryan launched his career writing for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager.
He went on to create Wonderfully. He worked on the first season of Heroes before Pushing Daisies. More recently, Bryan was executive producer of Hannibal.
His fellow Star Trek: Discovery Executive producer, Alex Kurtzman, left it to Alex to feed us more details at yesterday’s TCA meet up.
Star Trek Discovery - Showrunner Bryan Fuller
Star Trek Discovery – Showrunner Bryan Fuller ©2016 Courtesy of Bryan Fuller

One thing we wanted to know was how much he could tell us?

I have an anvil hanging over my head about what I can say and when. And that’s really about just keeping it fresh.

We want to arc out the information, and so you’ll get a little information today. You’ll get a little more information in October.

The main thing we had been trying to work out was when this is set in relation to the rest of Star Trek. Also which version of Kirk and Spock exist in this universe? Is it William Shatner or Chris Pine?

We are going to be set in the Prime Universe, and we’re about ten years before Kirk.

That gives us an opportunity to bridge the gap between [Star Trek:] Enterprise and the original series and also to really help us redefine the visual style of Star Trek.

As some of you who may be more familiar with my work, the aesthetic of a show is very, very important.

To take Star Trek and to be able to look at some of the designs and modernize not only the way we’re telling stories, but the way you’re seeing aliens in this environment is something that I’d been dying to do since I worked on Star Trek the first time.

We have been told that Star Trek: Discovery will be a serialised story. How will that work?

Well, it’s really telling it as though it’s a novel. Each episode being a chapter of that novel. Within that chapter is a beginning, middle, and an end to that segment of the story.

So we will have episodes that exist by themselves, but are a piece in a much bigger story.

We just been told that the lead character, a Lieutenant Commander, is going to be a woman. Can you tell us more about the diversity in the cast?

Star Trek Discovery - NASA astronaut Mae Jemison
Star Trek Discovery – Inspiration for the lead role, NASA astronaut Mae Jemison ©2016 NASA

I’ve talked extensively with Mae Jemison, who is the first black woman in space. It was interesting to send her outlines and start talking about the character and get her perspective.

Our lead of the show is going to be subject to that same level of who’s the best actor. Also what can we say with diversity in every role that we represent on the show.

[Also] we’ll probably have a few more aliens than you normally do in a Star Trek cast.

In Star Trek: Beyond it was shown that Sulu was gay. Can you speak to potentially having a gay character?

Before I even got a chance to say we need a gay character, the straight man in the team [refering to Alex Kurtzman] was telling me that we need a gay character.

Star Trek Discovery - Prototype Discover
Star Trek Discovery – The prototype design for the Discovery ©2016 CBS

People had been wondering about the Klingon looking design of the ship Discovery, seen in the teaser video.

That design wasn’t even finalized. It was, like, “What can we share with folks at Comic-Con that lets them into the process?”

Already I look at that design and go like, “We’ve got different nacelles We’ve got different lines there.” So it’s an evolution.

Not having to keep to network standards had us wondering. Sex and violence, especially on Star Trek, has often been more family-friendly…

Well, there’s a reason we call it “STD.” (Laughter)

It’s not a nebula you’re flying through. It’s cloudy discharge (Laughter)

We’re going to have a broader spectrum to explore those issues, but it is still Star Trek. [Being on CBS Interactive] we are not subject to broadcast standards and practices. There will probably be slightly more graphic content.

What does Star Trek mean to Bryan?

For me, Star Trek has been something that became part of my life very early on. I recognized in Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future an opportunity now with where we are in the world.

To start telling stories about how we come together as a planet and go out and seek new aliens and new adventures. That’s exactly what we’re going to do on Star Trek: Discovery.

Star Trek Discovery - Prototype Discover
Star Trek Discovery – The Discovery in asteroid dock ©2016 CBS