Melissa Navia Talks Ortegas and Finale – The Hollywood Reporter

[This story contains spoilers for the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season one finale, “A Quality of Mercy.”]

For Melissa Navia, hearing from actual pilots and soldiers that her character is one of the most authentic on the planet. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds thank you Lieutenant Erica Ortegas’ gallows humor is just the best compliment she could get.

The actress knew that Enterprise’s tough (and timely ironic) director was something special as soon as she auditioned for the role – and Navia was determined to be a part of the Paramount+ show. She succeeded and brought a unique charm to the role, making Ortegas a fan favorite.

This week’s season one finale sees Ortegas – and the rest of the crew – in a different light, as they’re in an alternate timeline for an episode of great reflection. “Balance of Terror” from Star Trek: The Original Series. The episode was notable for the surprise guest appearance of Captain James Kirk, played by Paul Wesley, but was also the second instance in the series of the cast playing their own version of the character outside.” normal” SNW level. The first episode that really broke the imagination was episode eight, the highly entertaining “Elysian Kingdom”.

However, for Navia, she SWN The journey has been bittersweet. On December 17, 2021, her partner of nearly seven years, Brian Bannon, died suddenly of a rare, acute type of leukemia known as acute trophoblastic leukemia (APL). .

Bannon was once the actress’ rock and was with her the entire filming of the first season in Toronto, and he’s gearing up to return to her in season two. In a heartache social media posts at the time, Navia talked about how she loved her “best friend” and how deeply she would miss him.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter before the season one finale, Navia talks about how she became a part of the show and how Bannon told her it was going to be special. The actress also discussed the joys of creating Ortegas’ personality.

As I asked a lot of your co-stars, how did you perform your role SNW?

It’s October 2020 and the industry is moving from live auditions to self-recording. So when the audition went on for Ortegas, she was one of the few characters whose name and everything about her was listed in the breakdown. Some legacy characters have fake names. So I can see she’s a pilot, a veteran, she’s Latina, and they have something like “She can break a joke as easily as she can handle it.” handle a phaser.”

It’s a scene, and it’s well written. I know it’s a regular series, and I taped it with my partner Brian in our apartment. We had to send it straight to the casting. I remember trying to file it down the line. And then I almost forgot about it, and two weeks later I got a call to meet [showrunners] Henry [Alonso Myers] and Akiva [Goldsman] via Zoom. I did one more scene and then that scene. The rest is history. It took me so long to get here, and I never expected it to be this great, but here we are. Brian told me this series was going to be special. We jumped up and down when I got it.

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Melissa Navia as Ortegas in STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS.
Marni Grossman / Paramount +

Like so many others, I am a huge fan of Ortegas. The cruel gaze and sarcastic words to break the tension in a tense moment are delightful. How many of them are on the page and how many of them will you play?

That is a great question. From the start I knew there was a comic side to Ortegas and what she brought to the crew, but what I really wanted to avoid was the obvious relief in the comics. I always go back to writing. I know I’m biased, but the work is well written, and that brings her to life easily. I can see in the script that the reason she was able to break the tension and have those moments – especially with Captain Pike – is because she’s so good and so confident in what she does. do. And I like that.

She’s a soldier and pilot, and a lot of what I’ve heard from soldiers and pilots is the fact that she’s the most authentic crew member in her gallows humor. That’s exactly what happens in life-and-death situations. I see trolls on Twitter saying, “She’s not professional enough, or she’s not this enough,” which in my gut, I feel like it’s just so wrong. So when I hear from actual soldiers and pilots that she’s absolutely doing what they’re doing out there, that’s the highest compliment to me.

In the season one finale, we finally see Ortegas and Pike clash in huge numbers. It’s an alternate timeline, and they’re not the people we’ve come to know from the series, but how about playing another version of the character?

Oh my God. When I got the script for this episode, a mirror “Balance of Terror”, an alternate future, and many more Ortegas-centered episodes, it was very exciting. She is a combat veteran who has lost friends, she has lost her family to the Romans. So here she is against Pike’s diplomatic attitude, which she has always agreed to before and one of the reasons she is so loyal to him. And that’s a beautiful thing about Star Trek. We live in one world, but then play in so many different worlds and our characters have to take on so many different aspects. I still remember the first time Kirk stepped on the bridge in that episode, and it wasn’t even what I planned, I just felt it in this moment, Ortegas suddenly loyal to the team. To what extent is this completely different growth.

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Melissa Navia as Ortegas in STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS.
Marni Grossman / Paramount +

And finally, we have to talk about episode eight, “Elysian Kingdom.” Babs told me in a previous interview, you all just had the best time and ruined a lot of laughs. Was it the most fun for you so far?

It was one of the first episodes we heard about, but it was just whispers. And I remember finally seeing a picture from the closet and hearing that I was going to be fencing! I have a martial arts background and have definitely done swords before, so I couldn’t believe it! (Laugh.) I had a dream role and now, I’m taking on another dream role!

I don’t think Babs fully understands how funny he is. Too many works have been ruined, because we will completely break the character. We can’t help it! (Laugh.) Fencing is – I mean, fencing in space, will never get old. The stunt team was great at helping me prepare. And it was fun to play opposite Anson, who is the opposite of what we are used to seeing on the bridge. So I could have been frustrated with him and just annoyed with him. And I’ll never forget my first day back at the bridge in the next episode, I feel weird because I’ve just spent almost three weeks berating this man! (Laugh.) The whole thing was a pleasure.

The edited interview is long and clear.

The entire first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Currently streaming on Paramount+.

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