By Jordan Hoffman
Star Trek: The Cruise IV got an extra kick to its warp core with the announcement of Anson Mount to its celebrity crew manifest. Mount will join Wilson Cruz and Ethan Peck as representatives from Star Trek: Discovery, mixing it up with cast members all the way back to The Original Series.
Mount quickly became a fan favorite with his take on Captain Christopher Pike, a character that, for decades, was more of a bar trivia answer (Who was captain of the Enterprise before Kirk?) than a known entity.
In the 1964 first Star Trek pilot, “The Cage,” Pike was played by Jeffrey Hunter, but the networks famously rejected the initial version of Gene Roddenberry’s show, offering him a rare re-do. After redressing the bridge — more bright colors certainly made NBC’s parent company RCA happy, as they were in the business of selling color TV sets — all but that weird pointy-eared alien Spock got replaced. But Mr. Roddenberry was nothing if not a good businessman. The old footage from “The Cage” would get reused as a story-within-a-story in the two-part episode “The Menagerie.”
Hunter didn’t reappear as Pike for the new parts of “The Menagerie.” That was actor Sean Kenney under a ton of makeup after Pike’s disfiguring accident. But Pike’s demeanor shown in courtroom record tapes, strong-willed and determined, was like a harder version of William Shatner’s James T. Kirk.
In J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek, the Kelvin Timeline offered a more avuncular Pike in Bruce Greenwood. He’s the one who urges the unfocused but clearly talented young Kirk (Chris Pine) to enter Starfleet.
Mount’s version is like a blending of the two. His presence is extremely “good guy” (he seems most likely to pop a tape of Dad Rock into Discovery’s dashboard), but when the photon torpedos hit the fan he’s all about bravery and duty.
Anson Mount’s Pike was one of the most universally beloved aspects of Discovery’s second season. By exuding a mix of patience and confidence, plus a dash of humor, he was just what this crew needed after the conniving Captain Lorca took them (and us) to the Mirror Universe and back.
Mount joined Star Trek after a run on Hell On Wheels, the old west drama that ran for five seasons on AMC. Mount starred opposite Deep Space Nine’s Colm Meaney, so we can expect to hear a few good “Chief O’Brien on a horse” stories during Star Trek: The Cruise IV.
Mount also co-hosts a podcast with filmmaker Branan Edgens called “The Well” that analyzes the impulses behind creativity. Recent guests include Illeana Douglas, Reggie Watts, Eva Longoria and, aha!, Ethan Peck.
“It’s hard to overstate this,” Mount told StarTrek.com earlier this year, “Star Trek was my introduction to imagination. Either this is a really good dream or I don’t know, man!”
It’ll be fun to dig in on Trek lore with our new-old Captain next year.