Strange New Worlds' Jess Bush Says The Chapel/Spock Relationship 'Deepens' In Season 2 [Exclusive Interview]

This post contains spoilers for season 1 of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds."

The first season of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" has a Blu-ray set to be released into the universe, which includes (among other things) a gag reel of the cast breaking down on set. Jess Bush, who plays Nurse Chapel on the show, especially loves that gag reel. "I get all warm and fuzzy watching it," she told me in a recent interview. "There's the story and then there's behind the scenes moments that touch a special place in your heart." 

I talked with Bush about that gag reel (including who the actor was that made her laugh more than everyone else) as well as what we might see of Chapel in season 2 of the show, particularly in her relationships with M'Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) and Spock (Ethan Peck).

Note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

'We're there for so many hours a day that you start to go a little bit cuckoo'

I know you're doing these interviews to help promote the season 1 home video release. Have you seen any of the extended features on that at all?

I have. I have seen the gag reel, which is so fun. I get all warm and fuzzy watching it, because we get to see what was really going on for us. There's the story and then there's behind the scenes moments that touch a special place in your heart.

I would love to hear your thoughts about what it really was like on set between takes. Was it jovial?

I think it depended on what exactly we were shooting, whether the stakes were very high and there was a lot of moving parts. I think for more complicated scenes, people had to just be a little bit more focused. It also depended on who was working that day. Everybody has a different chemistry together. But most of the time, we're having as much fun — it's a good time. Everybody's there creating something really special. And there's lots of time spent on set where we're waiting around and can chat. There's definitely some very silly, funny times. We're there for so many hours a day that you start to go a little bit cuckoo.

Is there one actor that always just cracked you up more than others?

Celia [Rose Gooding, who plays Uhura on the show]. She's just got the best spirit and is so passionate and dedicated to her work and also embraces the lightness. She's just a ray of sunshine always, singing always, laughing always, but also so heartful. I love her energy on set.

With Nurse Chapel — and I know you've talked about this before, about how you're taking on a legacy character and we're seeing different facets of her. But one thing I love about what we saw on season 1 was the relationships she forms with other crew members. She has very distinct and meaningful relationships with everyone, but especially with M'Benga, with Ortegas, and Spock, of course. I know you can't get into details too much about season 2, but I wondered if you could tease anything about how those relationships play out or interact in the upcoming episodes.

How can I do this without spoiling anything? I think Chapel's relationship with M'Benga is very special and very deep and almost familial, and that really gains more color in the second season. Her relationship with Spock gets a lot more complicated and deepens, as well. I think you just start to see a little bit more deeply into what Chapel provides in a relationship, whether that be platonic, familial, or romantic, both strengths and weaknesses. I really enjoyed fleshing that out in season 2.

'Let's just say Chapel gets to be a total badass'

We also saw in season 1 that there's some action scenes for Chapel. I wonder if there's anything you can say about your direct involvement in any action-related scenes for season 2.

Let's just say Chapel gets to be a total badass. I was very excited when I started to read the script for season 2 for that reason.

What was that like for you, preparing for that? Have you done a lot of action before, or is that something new for you?

I haven't done a lot. In an independent film I did when I was much younger, there was a bit of combat. But not in my work have I done a lot of action. I'm a very active person and naturally athletic, so I tend to take pretty quickly to choreography and physical challenges, which I feel very fortunate to have that natural ability. It was really fun to explore that more in an acting sense. I loved it.

And it must have been fun using the "Star Trek" props that are available to you for those things.

Yeah, totally. So many "pinch me" moments of being like, "I am doing X, Y, Z on a spaceship set. Wow. I'm 30, and I'm on a spaceship in Canada doing this crazy stunt."

'It was like a sparkly breath of fresh air'

One episode we do know is coming in season 2 is the crossover with "Lower Decks." What was it like for you in that episode, that dynamic on set of having the "Lower Decks" folks there? How was that whole experience?

It was like a sparkly breath of fresh air. It was so, so fun. I remember in a table read when the folks from "Lower Decks" were in there, it just injected this whole other energy into our cast and everybody in the room lit up in this different way just because the tone of "Lower Decks" is so different to ours. So it was very exciting to have this new concoction of energy on set. It was so much fun. And [Jonathan Frakes, who also plays Will Riker in "Picard"] is so wonderful as a director. They were an absolute hoot, total professionals. So warm and inviting, and we had a great time.

Do you have a favorite scene from season 1 that just stuck with you?

There were a couple. Hemmer's funeral was really beautiful just because it was really moving. What we were shooting was very moving and very sad as [actor Bruce Horak] was also leaving the show, so it had some real weight to it. But also we were all there and we're not often all there at one time. So the days when we're on set and everybody's there are really special. And the director had an old record player and was playing old blues music between takes, so it had this very surreal, heartfelt vibe about the day.

But there was also a day on episode 9 — it was a whole day of scenes that were just me. It was all of the intense terror moments for that episode. It was an amazing acting challenge and so thrilling to tackle that on my own for the whole day. It was very rewarding. I loved that episode.

The first season of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" is now streaming on Paramount+ and available on Blu-ray.