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Alex Kurtzman Explains How Sonequa Martin-Green Was “Perfect” Casting For Star Trek Discovery

September 29, 2017 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Star Trek: Discovery

Alex Kurtzman discussed the casting of Sonequa Martin-Green as First Officer Michael Burnham in Star Trek Discovery in a new interview with TV Line.

On the difficulties in casting the lead role: “I would say, with kind of remarkable and frightening consistency, that every perfect part I’ve ever cast on a show has come at the eleventh hour. It’s always a nail-biter. It’s a weird karmic rule of casting that I don’t fully understand, but it is very consistently true.”

On Burnham: “She has to have this remarkable duality inside of her… highly emotional, but in a way that is contained. She’s struggling between the two parts of herself. Unlike Spock, who is half-human, half-Vulcan, she is all human, but she’s been trained with the kind of Vulcan emotional-suppression ideology, and that is very challenging for her… you can see that wrestling match going on in every moment. That was the single most important thing to define the character, and I think we just had a sense that [Sonequa] intuitively understood it.”

On Martin-Green handling the Star Trek technical jargon: “It’s a tough thing to learn with actors. You either have the ability to roll that off your tongue, or you don’t. And if you don’t, everything kind of trips over itself… And when [Sonequa] read, we all breathed a massive sigh of relief, because she brought an instant authenticity to it. It was very clear that the language was not going to be difficult for her.”

On Martin-Green’s performance: “I’m looking between the lines for what the actors are doing when they’re reading. Am I engaging with their face? Am I engaging with their eyes? Do I see a whole emotional life in their eyes? It was extremely clear that that’s what was going on with her. So we were very, very lucky.”