The Star Trek: Strange New Worlds star Ethan Peck is here to make space sexy, photo by Mark Elzey for InStyle Editorial.
At first glance, Ethan Peck is just a regular, unassuming guy. At a tall 6-foot-1, according to a quick Google search, the 37-year-old has a much more fascinating history in Hollywood than meets the eye (or forehead, depending on your height). The grandson of Academy Award-winner Gregory Peck, Ethan’s humility and welcoming presence masks his own personal journey through film and television. Not many people can say they attended the same junior high school as the Olsen twins or that Mariah Carey sang to them on their 21st birthday. But for Peck, his current mission is one of significance to Star Trek fans. In his own words, “we’re here to make space sexy.”
It’s something the fandom had never seen before — up until episode 1 of the first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. We’re talking about a shirtless, love-making Spock.
“Moments like that, I’m just … ‘Oh my gosh, I really hope this goes well.’ I don’t want to fuck this up,” he explains of the decision to boldly go where no Spock has gone before. “That was a risk that they took and I’m just happy to be along for the ride.”Ethan Peck on InStyle
After the film wrapped, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen coincidentally enrolled in Peck’s junior high school. A self-proclaimed “outsider goofball dork,” Peck recalls hanging out and talking with the twins every once and a while, but that he mostly kept to his more “fringe” group of friends.
“[The Olsen twins] were obviously very cool and popular. We stayed friends, but I played Magic: The Gathering and played sports. I was in the orchestra. So, um, yeah, I had my group,” he jokes.
Peck’s penchant for sci-fi and fantasy may have caused him to be an “outsider goofball dork,” but it’s his love of the genre that would set him up for Trek. Having read Isaac Asimov’s The End of Eternity when he was around 12, as one casually does, created the domino effect of absorbing as much sci-fi content as he could. While he credits his father Stephen with introducing him to Star Wars, Peck admits that was as much of the “star”-related franchises that he could stand at that age.
For Peck, the legacy left by the late Leonard Nimoy and the most recent iteration played by Zachary Quinto felt incredibly intimidating. It’s an experience he could only equate to those who take on the roles of Batman or Superman. He knew right away that all eyes and pointed ears would be on him as he stepped into the character for the first time.
In May of 2020, Paramount+ (then known as CBS All Access) officially announced Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, with all three actors returning. The mission: to tell the stories of the U.S.S. Enterprise crew with weekly episodes covering their adventures through time and space. The return of the Enterprise also marked the return of the classic, episodic structure of The Original Series. A departure from the more serial work the actors had been used to on Discovery. It allowed for more room and, yes, space, for light-hearted plot lines and character development.
“To be spun off onto another show is a fucking dream,” Peck says of the experience. “It’s a more prominent Spock. There’s an opportunity to investigate his inner life and his inner world, which I don’t think they even did in The Original Series. I felt that I was embarking on this unknown journey again that has a new set of rules. We are discovering them together as we film it.”
Star Trek, as a series, has always been a family show. The worlds it creates and represents form an idyllic version of what the future could look like without prejudice and hatred. The care and thoughtfulness baked into every ounce of the franchise’s writing and casting has naturally created many a family within its own crews off-screen, as well.
Frakes returns during the second season of SNW to direct the highly anticipated crossover episode with Star Trek: Lower Decks (set to air July 27 or Stardate 47634.44). It stars fellow InStyle This Guy, Jack Quaid. While remaining vague about the details of the episode, Peck explains how much the cast and crew loved having Quaid and the leading lady of Lower Decks, Tawny Newsome, on set. The quick chemistry that formed between Peck and Quaid — and subsequently Spock and Quaid’s character, Brad Boimler — has already sparked a nickname from Frakes.
“Jonathan Frakes coined ‘Spoimler’ from our character’s names. So, we’re definitely going to be pushing Spoimler hard when that episode drops,” Peck jokes. “[Quaid] and I have a lot in common. He grew up in L.A. His parents are actors. My grandfather was an actor. There’s a lot of overlap and so it’s really nice to meet people who are like you. He’s just such a lovely guy.”
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