This interview contains spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery season 5 episode 9, “Lagrange Point.”

The series finale of Star Trek: Discovery arrives in just one week, on Thursday, May 30th, 2024. But today, Discovery’s penultimate episode, “Lagrange Point,” is available for streaming on Paramount+. The episode features a juicy subplot for Adira Tal, and to mark the occasion, Comics Beat caught up with Blu del Barrio over Zoom.

We asked all about working with director Jonathan Frakes again, about Adira’s relationship with Rayner (Callum Keith Rennie) and Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman), about whether or not it was really them in this episode’s Breen costume and about what it’s like to be costumed as a Breen.

Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/Paramount+

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Cover photo credit: James Dimmock/Paramount+ TM & © 2023 CBS Studios Inc. STAR TREK and related marks and logos are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

AVERY KAPLAN: How did working with Jonathan Frakes on “Lagrange Point” compare with working with him on your first Discovery episode, season 3’s “People of Earth”?

BLU DEL BARRIO: Oh, I was terrified in my first episode. And he has such a huge, bubbling personality when he directs that I think I was just a little bit shell shocked when I started. And I asked myself, “Is this how all directors are going to be? Because this man has so much energy. And I don’t know if he thinks I’m doing well or if he’s just putting on a good face…”

That in comparison to working with him on “Lagrange Point.” I learned that is just how he is, and I get to have fun with him now. Because that’s genuinely what he wants, is for everyone to have a good time. Which is not something you get in directors very often! There’s a lot of stress involved, they have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders.

But Frakes gets there, and he expects and wants everyone to have a good time on set. And he makes that environment happen, which is a godsend. So after the initial shock of, “Oh my gosh! This is a firecracker of a human being,” I expect the firecracker. I’m excited for the firecracker, and I can play around with him.

KAPLAN: Did you actually wear the Breen suit?


KAPLAN: What was that like? Was it uncomfortable?

DEL BARRIO: Nobody’s really asked if I wore it, but that makes so much sense, because you can’t really tell.

I did, and it was the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever put on my body. I was saying earlier that I love and respect our costume department so much, because it took us I think it was five fittings total over a span of multiple months. It took them most of the season to build these costumes. These are works of art. And we were lucky to get to wear them and act in them.

At the same time, I’ve never been more uncomfortable in my entire life. It was like wearing seven wetsuits at once, and then also putting a bunch of bricks on you, on different parts of your body. And also, you can’t see. So you feel so dumb, and you look so cool. And it didn’t really hit until, I had to go over and ask if I could see some playback, because I feel like an idiot.

And also, everyone there that day playing Breen was seven feet tall, they were so tall. And I’m 5’2″. And I said, “I don’t know how we’re going to play off me being undercover here, because I’m the size of a shoe.” But seeing it onscreen and seeing the helmets and everything, you look so cool. Everybody look so cool. So, knowing what it looked like made it a lot easier to relax and tell yourself, “Whatever you do you’re going to look okay (unless you don’t fall on your face).”

KAPLAN: Did you perform the fighting as well?

DEL BARRIO: Yes, which I was really excited for!

KAPLAN: What was that like, especially in the costume?

DEL BARRIO: Oh, so hard. So difficult. Because the choreography for that combat was pretty simple, but doing it in those costumes made it so incredibly hard. Sweating buckets under there, because it’s so hot.

But I was so excited, because Adira hadn’t gotten to do something like that. Because when I started, I’d just finished theater school, and I’d done three and half years of stage combat, really religiously. So I was so excited to get to do this.

And then to learn you have to do it with bricks on your body was really frustrating. But it was still really fun.

KAPLAN: How did the Breen costume compare with playing an alien (sort of) in the Discovery season 3 finale?

DEL BARRIO: (laughs) In terms of away missions, I do think that one, where we all changed and I got to have the prosthetics, was probably my favorite thing I got to do. Because of how cool it was, and because of that make-up and all of that. I just think it was so awesome.

But the Breen, I felt a lot more like a badass. And Adira never really gets to feel like a badass. So having this was very fun. And doing it with Patrick Kwok-Choon (Gen Rhys) made me feel all the more like, “Oh, they’re putting me on a macho mission. That’s very sick.” It felt very action movie-esque, which I really liked.

KAPLAN: Adira had so many great subplots this season. What did you think of the relationship between Adira and Rayner?

DEL BARRIO: I really, really loved working with Callum.

Callum, when you meet him you think he’s like Rayner, but he actually just has a very hard exterior and is actually a very silly and “stupid jokes” kind of man. Which I loved, and made it really fun to play against.

I think it was a very sudden thing when Adira meets Rayner of, “I know I need to prove myself to you.” I don’t know why that’s the first thing that sits in their brain, it didn’t need to be, but that’s sort of where Adira comes from a lot of the time. So I think getting to prove themselves in this way was really cool.

After growing and growing up a little bit on Discovery, and having an outsider all of the sudden come in. And probably having the thought process of, “Am I going to have to do this all over again?” But I think, seeing the shift they’ve had in their confidence, and how quickly they are able to feel comfortable and show their worth, is a really cool thing.

Photo Credit: Gibson /Paramount+

KAPLAN: What about the mentorship relationship between Adira and Tilly?

DEL BARRIO: That’s probably my favorite relationship Adira has, especially in this season.

I think that it’s probably one of the first relationships Adira has had since joining Discovery where they also feel like they can help somebody else. I feel like they are in a position, because they’re so young, where everybody is their mentor. And I feel like them and Tilly are kind of mentors to each other, in a really cool way.

So getting to play that was really fun. And getting to feel like they’re helping somebody, and I was helping somebody else with their problems, and not just somebody helping me with mine, was really really nice and refreshing.

KAPLAN: I am curious if there is a particular scene on Discovery of which you are especially proud?

DEL BARRIO: Oh, yeah. It’s one of the very first scenes that I shot. It was the scene with Ian Alexander (Gray Tal) and myself in the music room, before we’re even on Discovery, and right before the Burn happens. That’s always been the scene that I’ve been the proudest of, and the scene that means the most to me. 

Because of how special that day was. There was nobody on that soundstage, it was very quiet. It was, I think, both of our first day working together. So that giggly energy was very very real and authentic, because we had just met, I think one day prior. We were both very scared, we were both very young, and could feel the scale of how big this show was.

And having a scene that was just focused on us two felt so special and important and we really didn’t want to mess it up. That scene to me, makes my heart very happy, and always is the one I’m most proud of and think is the most special.

Adira and Gray in season 5’s “Jinaal.” Photo Credit: John Medland /Paramount+

KAPLAN: I’ve heard the atmosphere among the cast on the Disco described as like a family. Is that really true?

DEL BARRIO: Yes, very. And we always have to say, “Everyone will say that.”

But I don’t know that I will ever be lucky enough again in my career to have a group that I work with that is like this one. That was as close as this one, that was as caring and empathetic and familiar as this one. I don’t know that I’ll ever have that again.

But I’m lucky that I had it once, and that it was my first one. Because that could have gone very differently. We could have had very bad relationships among the cast. And then quit my career and not known anything else! But no.

I think a lot of it has to do with Sonequa Martin-Green (Michael Burnham) being our number one, and being the person that she is, because you need a leader as number one, and you follow suit to the energy that they put off. And the energy that Sonequa puts off is familial.

No matter who you are, if you’re an extra who’s just meeting her for one day. She will remember who you are, she will remember your name, she will ask you about your family. She cares very deeply about every single person on that set. Genuinely. Not because she feels like she has to, she genuinely cares and wants it to be a good space. And I think everyone following that suit led to us feeling like a family.

KAPLAN: Would you consider reprising the role of Adira?

DEL BARRIO: I would love to. I would so love to. Especially because they’re so young, and I have so many possible ideas in my head of what they would do with their future. What it would look like on Discovery, with the other people on Discovery, what it would look like with Gray. I just, I have so many things in my head; so many experiences I want them to live out. I just want to see them do things, I think it would be so cool.

And you never know with Trek. We’ve seen so many characters come back. So, maybe. But 100% yeah, I would love to.

KAPLAN: Would you be open to playing another role on Trek?

DEL BARRIO: Ooo. Yeah. I’d be interested in playing a role that was completely prosthetic’d up. Although it would be very hard… I don’t know if I could do it for five seasons, like Doug Jones (Saru) did. I don’t know that I could do that, because that man is incredible and nobody else is like him in the world, and I don’t think anyone else could have done that.

But it would be very cool to guest as some species that is completely covered up. That would be really awesome.

KAPLAN: How did preparing for season 5 compare with your preparation for seasons 3 and 4?

DEL BARRIO: I think that there was a lot more security in how I was feeling in myself, and my abilities and my belonging there. I was just very not-sure of myself when I started this show. And in the back of my head I thought, “I’m probably going to leave at the end of this. They’re probably going to get rid of me.” Very negative self-talk.

And that was very different by the time we got to season 5. I think I felt so connected with everybody, including our producers and everyone. I just felt like a part of the Disco family. So I felt a lot more freedom to play. I come from an improv background, and I think I felt scared to do that in my first season. But I felt so much more levity and freedom to be able to add things and make suggestions, go that route. So that was really nice.

KAPLAN: What would you order from the replicator?

DEL BARRIO: Oh no! Oh… That’s such a hard question.

I’d want to do the best possible iced latte with vanilla. Like, the best possible. Also, thinking about how far in the future we are, just exquisite coffee. I think would be very nice.

KAPLAN: What do you hope the legacy and influence of Adira will look like?

DEL BARRIO: I know that it has been this, but I hope that it remains being this. I hope that they serve as a character that allows people to validate themselves and their experience. And that also allows parents to validate their children.

Because that’s the most mind-blowing thing for me. I knew I was trans when I was a kid. I did not get validated by anybody, and there was nothing on TV or film that validated me. If I had had a character like this, and let’s say my parents watched Star Trek or I did, I could have been like, “This is a real thing. This is not a phase or whatever,” which is kind of what the narrative was when I was a kid.

I would have been able to stay out and feel a lot more free in my growing up, rather than kind of going back in the closet, like I did for however many years; like, fifteen years. And the fact that I’ve had parents message me now and say, “this helped me understand my kid,” is the most meaningful thing this show has brought to my life. And I hope that it keeps doing that. Because Trek is such a family show, and something that parents watch with their kids, I hope that this continues to do that.

KAPLAN: I hope this doesn’t seem trite, but given the climate in the United States, do you have any advice you’d like to share with trans people facing adversity right now?

DEL BARRIO: The U.S. is really rough right now. I think something that I’ve said before, and I’ll always keep repeating, is that there is always community that is available to you. Whether that is community is your real life, where you live — even if it doesn’t seem like there is, there is.

And another place for that is online. And it will always be online. And I am not great with social media and don’t use it that often, but, things like discord and the way that we can connect online can be a huge source of validation and help and care for trans, nonbinary and gender nonconforming people.

And I think right now we need to take advantage of it as much as we can. For getting each other mutual aid, for everything like that, because we are not getting the support that we need from our government. But there is always community; never feel like there is nobody there.

Because it just takes asking around a little bit online, and you will find a group somewhere. Probably even close to where you live, because we are everywhere. Even if it feels like you are alone, you are very much not. There is community everywhere.

The first nine episodes of Star Trek: Discovery season 5 are currently available for streaming on Paramount+, and the series finale will debut Thursday next.

Learn more about this season of Star Trek: Discovery through our interview with Elias Toufexis, who plays antagonistic courier L’ak. And of course, you can keep up with all of The Beat’s Star Trek coverage here.