The Strange New Worlds Cast Tells Us How To Star Trek

"Star Trek" fans know the drill.

You put on that tight-fitting uniform. You sit at your console on the bridge and press buttons to look busy. Something unexpected or dangerous happens, and you report it to the captain in the form of nonsensical science jargon (or "Trek-nobabble," if you will). Something nasty hits the ship (Debris? Enemy phasers? Radiation wave from an imploding star?) and the entire ship is rocked, and you with it. 

A familiar scene to watch, for sure. But how do you act it? What's it actually like to sit on the set of a "Star Trek" TV series and make those tropes (each of them wholly welcome, thank you very much) come to life? It demands a simple question: How, exactly, does one "Star Trek"?

To answer this question, I turned to folks who would actually know firsthand: "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" stars Christina Chong, Celia Rose Gooding, and Melissa Navia. Here's how you make those "Trek" tropes sing, according to the people who are paid to make it so. 

How to react to the ship getting hit

When a starship takes a hit, you react accordingly. You twist in your seat. You fall to the ground. You brace for impact as your entire body rocks and shudders. But since you're on the set of a television show, you've got to fake it. And faking it realistically requires communication. Celia Rose Gooding, who plays fresh-faced Cadet Nyota Uhura (you know that name, right?) says that the key is to have that conversation before the cameras roll on the take:

"Before every take, we all check in. We're like, 'So we're going right, then left, then right.' We have to check in with everyone to make sure we all have an idea of the same choreography."

Christina Chong, taking on the role of no-nonsense security chief La'an Noonien-Singh, says the key to faking a good starship rock is to let it generate from your core:

"For me, it has to come from the inside. You know, it's got to be like, 'Ooh.' Like a centrifugal kind [movement]."

For Melissa Navia, who plays sardonic helmsman Erica Ortegas, the key is very specific direction, with clear communication about what exactly is hitting the ship:

"I get very specific. I'm like, 'Is it directional? Is it non-directional?' And I'm like, 'What are we being hit by exactly? Versus is this like the force of it?' And some directors will be just like, 'She's one of those.' And I'm like, 'Yes, I'm one of those.' I need to know what's hitting us, at what speed, in relation to what else. And then we all look in and then we do the shake."

Navia deadpans: "I always ask, 'Why don't we have seat belts?'"

How to operate a bridge console

Everyone on the bridge of a starship has a role, and every station serves a purpose. The role of a Starfleet officer is to do their duty to the best of their ability. The role of an actor is to look like they're doing their duty to the best of their ability. 

For Navia, who has to literally pilot the Enterprise out of intense situations, making her look like the master of the ship's controls was a vital part of her job. She knows what each and every button does. In fact, her steadfastness garnered her a reputation among the staff, crew, and even Paramount+: 

"I took it super seriously from the start. Word got around to everybody, including Paramount+ publicity, that Melissa is serious about this. Like I was having Zoom calls about the way that the engines work, the way the ship is built. So I have my way to go to warp, to go to impulse. Then there'd be times when I'm like doing evasive maneuvers where it's not necessarily playing on my screen. So I would have the graphics guys just build that for me. And they'd be like, 'Well, it's probably not going to play in the shot.' And I'm like, 'Yeah, but it plays on my face.' And so the way I look at it is that at any point, if we're looking at it like 'This is all just set,' then we might as well all go home. So for me, like when I sit down there, like I become super dorky, super serious. I am flying a starship. Sometimes I'll miss lines and people be like, 'What happened?' I was like, 'Guys, I'm flying the ship. I'm just very focused.'"

Meanwhile, Gooding admits that she doesn't have the attention to detail that Navia showcases, but she knows where the really important buttons are located:

"Melissa's like an A+ student when it comes to what's going on. Me, I know where red alert is. Everything else is sort of up to me. That's the fun thing about being in a prequel. We sort of build canon every day and sometimes it changes a little bit. But no, I have an idea of like what certain things could be. But I pray that there are no super fans checking in. Making sure that I don't do the same thing twice, because I rarely ever do. I'm so fascinated by everything that's going on. There are too many buttons not to push everything at least once. So I try to get my hands everywhere."

If Navia is the A+ student and Gooding a solid "B," we'll leave you to grade Chong, who isn't shy about admitting console button continuity is not her priority: 

 "For me, it changes every time. It depends how I'm feeling and what day it is. And some of the buttons come off when it's a long bridge day. I fiddle with a button, break the buttons. There's probably so many on there that are broken and need fixing."

How to make that uniform work for you

Few costumes in pop culture can be as unflattering as a Starfleet uniform. As much as "Star Trek" changes, that always remains the same — it's easy to look like crap in those form-fitting suits unless you take control. 

Chong, having learned from the best, cites Patrick Stewart's famous "Star Trek: The Next Generation" uniform tug as essential for any member of the crew:

"You have to sit up straight. And there's also there's a little pull, right? You got to pull that. You got to hold the bottom before every take. I just do the little pull to straighten it out and make sure you have a good posture. Even when you sit down."

Navia agrees about the uniform tug, but adds that shoulder posture is vital ... especially when you're a little too short for your station on the bridge:

 "I always check my shoulders. Because I'm sitting frequently, I always check my shoulders. Because my feet kind of dangle a little bit because I'm five foot three. So I actually like to plant my feet and the boots are awesome. The boots are my fave ... Not everybody finds them most comfortable. I find them super comfortable. I could like live in those boots, but yeah. Basically stand at attention. Like you're a 'Star Trek' officer and just the little pull."

"Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" premieres on Paramount+ on May 5, 2022.