‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Star Jack Quaid Talks ‘Strange New Worlds’ Crossover and Taking the Cast of ‘The Boys’ Spinoff ‘Gen V’ to Brunch
SPOILER ALERT: The final question in this interview includes a spoiler for the Season 3 finale of “The Boys.”
Quaid’s third season voicing the Starfleet ensign launched on Paramount+ on Thursday, but as Quaid and co-star Tawny Newsome (who voices Ens. Beckett Mariner) announced at San Diego Comic-Con in July, both actors will get to play the roles in live-action for the first time in a Season 2 episode of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” in 2023. The actor explained to Variety how the episode was possible, why he’s proud of Boimler in Season 3 of “Lower Decks,” how his character on “The Boys” will react to the big reveal in the Season 3 finale and what he did for the cast of “The Boys” spinoff series “Gen V.”
What do you do to get in the Boimler headspace when you record the show?
I think I just listen to Mike McMahon talk about “Star Trek.” His enthusiasm for this franchise is just so contagious that it for sure rubs off on you. Boimler is constantly geeking out about all things Starfleet in the way that Mike is geeking out about all things “Star Trek.” So you step into that environment inherently. Other than that… I make my voice a little bit higher pitched, and he kind of just comes out of me. I’ve always wanted to play a goofball like him in a show like this. I’ve been a cartoon nerd for forever. I genuinely love voicing him. He just holds a very, very special place in my heart. And it was cool to actually get to be the live-action version of him in the “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” crossover.
So you’re playing a live-action version of Boimler, not voicing him?
Let me just clarify. So Tawny Newsome and I are playing live-action versions of Mariner and Boimler. We’re coming on to “Strange New Worlds.” We’re coming aboard the Enterprise. I won’t get into the plot details of how exactly that happens. But we got to be on the physical set. We got to actually be in the bridge and the transporter bay and the hallways. We got to go all over the ship and interact with that amazing cast. There are some animated elements to the episode, but it’s not like a Roger Rabbit where, like, there’s an animated Boimler following Pike down a hallway. It’s not like that.
So what was it like for you to suddenly embody Boimler, and as a follow up, is your hair purple?
Oh it’s purple. Definitely purple. We made sure of that. Yeah, it was really, really cool. That was such an interesting challenge as an actor to take something that I usually just do with my voice but then inhabit every bit of him. I studied the way the animators and artists rendered Boimler and his movements and certain little gestures he would do. I tried to bring as much of that into the episode as possible, but trying to do things [that] were a little too big, a little too animated in a live-action setting, but still keep it within the Boimler range of movement. That was such a cool challenge. But I think the real blessing shooting that was having [“Star Trek: The Next Generation” star] Jonathan Frakes as the director. He’s just a legend, and he just absolutely nailed it. He directs so much “Star Trek,” and just to have Riker telling you what to do — if Riker is saying that you’re on the right path, you probably are. So that was just a dream come true.
So it was a dream for you and it was probably also a dream for Boimler. A win/win.
Oh, it was a big dream for Boimler. Very meta, actually, considering Boimler is such a fan of Riker and comes to work with him on the Titan, and Jonathan and I got to work together and I consider him a really good friend now. That was just the best.
I gather that episode came together because of a conversation you had on the set of “The Boys”?
Yeah, there’s this writer David Reed who worked on “The Boys” and on “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.” And he just came up to me and was like, “I love ‘Lower Decks.’ How can we get you on a live-action ‘Star Trek’ show?” I’m like, “I would do it in a heartbeat. There’s no resistance for me.” I thought this could always work. It wasn’t necessarily the show that I thought would be the crossover point, because they don’t really take place in the same timeline. But I really liked it. I really liked them merging this older era of “Trek” with us from the future quite a lot. So I like merging those two timelines. You’ll see how that all works out on the “Strange New World” episode. But it’s cool because from Boimler and Mariner’s perspective, they know about Captain Pike and Spock and Uhura. They think that they’re all awesome. So it was a fun way for them to meet their heroes, in a way. I’m just excited I get to actually talk about it because I had to keep it secret for so long. That crew over there on “Strange New Worlds” is awesome. Ethan Peck and I had an epic bromance — I just want to say that right now.
Boimler has been such a proud beta male on “Lower Decks,” but it looks like he starts to assert himself more in Season 3?
He is starting to get a lot more confident, maybe going overboard, but he’s still Boimler. This is the season where he’s just going to be bold, no matter what the consequences are. I’m proud of my man, Boimler. I really am. He’s come a long way since Season 1.
Most people first saw you in “The Hunger Games” as Marvel, one of the formidable and threatening tributes from District One — quite the opposite of Boimler and Hughie from “The Boys.” What has that progression been like for you?
I never thought that my first role in movie would be a vicious child murderer in a dystopian future. I never thought that would be where my career went. I feel like Hughie and Boimler are way closer to who I am as a person than Marvel is. But I just like playing different types of characters. You know, I had the opportunity to play a very different type of a character in “Scream” recently. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to experience a lot of different types of characters.
You’re about to start shooting Season 4 of “The Boys.” Are you are you going to be involved at all in “Gen V”?
Not at this point. I haven’t really talked about that with anyone, but I’d love to be. I actually can talk about this now, because it was happening when I was shooting “Strange New Worlds” in Toronto, and that was just as the cast of “Gen V” was starting production. So I took them all out to brunch one day. I got to know a bunch of them. They’re awesome. They’re so talented. They’re so cool. I can’t wait for that show to come out. I wish them all the best. They’re gonna knock it out of the park.
[SPOILER ALERT] In the finale of Season 3 of “The Boys,” we learn that Butcher has essentially a year to live. How do you think Hughie is going to react to the idea of a world without Butcher in it?
Man, I mean, we’re gonna have to find out, but it’s not gonna be good. Butcher is like his best friend and an older brother. So that’s pretty devastating news, when Hughie finds out but we’re just going to have to wait and see how that plays out. I haven’t read all the scripts for Season 4 yet. I don’t really know, actually. This is my time to be a fan and just kind of let things come to me and react to them genuinely as I’m reading them. But I was really happy with the way the writers teed everything up for this next season.
This interview has been edited and condensed.