Anson Mount's Dream Star Trek Role Isn't In Strange New Worlds

The Capt. Christopher Pike seen on "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds," as portrayed by Anson Mount, is a far cry from the Capt. Pike that actor Jeffrey Hunter portrayed in "The Cage," the original 1966 "Star Trek" pilot. In "The Cage," Pike was a stern authority figure, largely humorless, and suffused with a note of anger. Indeed, Pike's anger was so powerful that he was able to use it to cloud the minds of a species of psychic Talosians who were holding him captive. 

The Pike of "Strange New Worlds" — a series set after the events of "The Cage" — is a far warmer, more genial captain whose greatest strength as a commander seems to be wrangling a crew proving to be far more serious than he. In the recently-aired episode "The Serene Squall," Pike — in what would eventually become the episode's "B" story — is kidnapped by space pirates and has to take the pirate ship by force in order to free himself and his crew. The overtaking of the pirate ship proves to be strikingly easy, and Pike breezily ends the episode back in the captain's chair of the Enterprise giving his best Billy Bones-style, "yarr-yarr" pirate impersonation. It may be difficult for Trekkies to picture Jeffrey Hunter doing a pirate voice. 

Regardless, Mount has found a handle on the character right away, jettisoning a commonly hammered, tiresome streak of angst in favor of enthused professionalism. He loves his job. And while Pike may be his to define for a new generation, it seems the captain was not close to his favorite "Trek" character. Indeed, his favorite wasn't even from the original series. It turns out that Mount, as he revealed in an interview with Collider, is a Data fan. 

A fistful of Data

One can't blame him, of course. Data was one of the standout characters on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and was the featured character in a great number of episodes. The emotionless android played by Brent Spiner endeavored to be more human, and he was keenly interested in the machinations of human social interaction, which he frequently was ill-equipped to understand. 

Over the course of seven seasons and four movies, Data did grow more comfortable with humanity, and ultimately died at the end of "Star Trek: Nemesis," nobly sacrificing his life to safe the Enterprise from a Romulan attack vessel. Data was not just an interesting character, played impeccably by Spiner, but he offered Trekkies a unique opportunity to analyze their own behavior. How would you, dear viewer, explain concepts like humor or embarrassment to an android?

Collider asked Mount if he would like to — just for fun, mind you — transpose roles with one of his "Strange New Worlds" co-stars. Mount immediately said that the best role to play was Data:

"Oh boy, it wouldn't be 'Strange New Worlds.' It would be 'The Next Generation.' I've made no secret of this, and I've told them before. Data is, I think, maybe the most imaginative, interesting character in 'Star Trek' canon. He's Pinocchio in space. Such an actor's dream to play a non-sentient being that has to learn what sentience is. I was so jealous as a young actor, watching him get to do that." 

Mount and Spiner

Mount didn't make his on-screen acting debut until a 1999 in episode of "Ally McBeal," which came between the release of "Star Trek: Insurrection" in 1998 and "Star Trek: Nemesis" in 2002. Spiner would return to "Star Trek" in a few episodes of "Star Trek: Enterprise" as an ancestor of Dr. Noonien Soong, Data's human creator, and then both a descendent and an even earlier ancestor of the same character on multiple episodes of Paramount+'s "Star Trek: Picard." Spiner, digitally de-aged, would also briefly reprise his role as Data on that same show. Mount, meanwhile, would make his debut as Pike on the second season of "Star Trek: Discovery," a guest spot that proved popular enough to give his version of the character his own show. 

All of this is to say that Spiner's legacy appearances as Data (and various people named Soong) ran concurrently with Mount's eventual entrance into the "Star Trek" world That makes his appearance, if one wishes to think of it in these terms, something of a passing of the torch. A new generation of action picking up from the "Next Generation" characters. 

Regardless, Mount is not wrong. Data is a glorious challenge for any actor, and one that Spiner achieved magnificently.