Red alert! This interview contains spoilers for the second episode of Star Trek: Picard season 3, “Disengage,” available for streaming right now on Paramount+. 

“You are harboring one Jack Crusher… and we will be taking HIM.” Photo Cr: James Dimmock/Paramount+. © 2022 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Beat got the opportunity to speak with Speleers over Zoom to ask all how he got involved in the series, to find out about playing a non-Starfleet character on a Star Trek show, and to ask about that big reveal from the end of “Disengage”!

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

AVERY KAPLAN: How did you come to be involved in this season? Was the relation to Picard known to you during your auditions or did you discover it later on?

ED SPELEERS: It wasn’t made clear to me at the initial taping stage. I did one tape… When the breakdown came in, I felt I was so right for the part. And yet, for whatever reason, when it came down to taping, it became really late at night in England, and my girlfriend and I… I just couldn’t do it. 

I remember getting really emotional, on the brink of tears: “I just can’t do it. I’m giving up acting. I’m never doing this again. I’m done with self-tapes. I’ve been self-taping for months and months and months, and nothing happening.”

And then she said, “All right, look. Give it one more go. Stop being ridiculous.” So I gave it one more go, and I’m not going to say the rest is history, because it’s not quite at that point. But, things moved on.

At that point, when I got offered the part, they said, “Right. Just to let you know, you’re playing Picard’s son.” So I was like, “Oh, okay. That’s news.” And it was hard to get my head around what that meant until I spoke to [Picard season 3 showrunner] Terry Matalas, and he gave me the full throttle rundown of what that was going to mean, and what would transpire for the role.

KAPLAN: What’s it like playing a non-Starfleet recurring character? Did you feel like an outsider on set at all?

SPELEERS: I didn’t feel like an outsider in the sense that everyone was so lovely, and so welcoming. 

It’s quite refreshing when you have a setup and you have a construct such as Starfleet, and what that means and how that operates, and when you have other characters that pop in… You know, [Jack]’s there to ruffle feathers. He’s there to drop a grenade on a situation. And being that part got me so excited every day, and that filled me with joy and energy. 

So I felt like an outsider in the story, but that was good. And that was facilitating the part. But I never felt like an outsider creatively. I was surrounded by such wonderful, wonderful human beings.

KAPLAN: What’s it like to play such a significant, key role in Picard season 3, but have your involvement and role largely hidden during the lead-in to the episodes?

SPELEERS: Playing the role was an honor. I feel I’ve said this so much, and I’ve really worried that it will not feel genuine anymore, but genuinely, playing this part, when it came along, what it meant to me, it’s been tantamount to almost everything so far in my career. And it’s definitely led on to other things as a result. So, it just got hold of me in a way that perhaps other parts haven’t, and it meant so much to me, and my young family.

Having to keep it secret was frustrating at times. Because I wanted to be able to sing from the rooftops, and I wanted to be able to talk about this experience that I had! Which, of course, I’m getting the chance to do now, and I’m relishing it. But I wanted to share with my teammates. 

Myself, I got very frustrated. The benefit was it meant I could keep my head down and get on with the work at the time. I’m incredibly proud of this process. I’m incredibly proud of what took place, and I’m honored that I was given the chance to be part of it.

So yeah, I just want to talk about it all the time.

Speleers as Jack in “Disengage” Episode 302, Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Trae Patton/Paramount+. ©2021 Viacom, International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

KAPLAN: How have people reacted to your character so far? How do you expect people to continue to react?

SPELEERS: I don’t know how people have responded! I’m hoping all right. I’m told people are on-board with it so far.

I hope that they like him, essentially. In its simplest form, I hope that people recognize that a lot of hard work and dedication – not just by me, but by hundreds, almost thousands of people to put this show together.

I also recognize that the people who follow and support Star Trek, and who have done for many decades, are incredibly passionate, and have supported it with every inch of their being for a very long time. 

And I hope that Jack is able to be part of that likability and following, I really do. Because he was so much fun to play, and there’s still things I want to unpick with him, as well. I feel like we’ve just begun!

KAPLAN: What was it like shooting your reaction shot to Captain Vadic throwing the Eleos at the Titan?

SPELEERS: I wanted to play it a few different ways. Not nonchalant, because he is aware of the gravity of the situation, but there is a fearless streak to Jack. And I wanted him to be like, “Eh, come on then, bring it. You want to bring the party? Then come on, let’s have a go.” And that’s what I wanted him to be, especially in these early episodes. Because the story goes off, and it really hits hard at some point. 

So I wanted to have that levity with him early on. And you know, I hope he can come back to that. But, I think it’s interesting that he has that at his core. And I look at actors who I’ve admired down the years, sort of older Hollywood greats, and those are the sort of people that have that look right up on their face. If there’s a bit of danger? Eh, come on, bring it on.

Speleers as Jack in “Disengage” Episode 302, Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Patton/Paramount+. ©2021 Viacom, International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

KAPLAN: Do you have a personal history with Star Trek?

SPELEERS: My dad was into The Original Series. I think he still is, very much into it. He’s got a big passion for Sci-Fi, and what else could be out there… I mean, what else is definitely out there, come on. It’s not “could be.” Let’s not beat around the bush!

My affiliation – and its not me saying I’m in any way a Star Trek aficionado – but I have nostalgic memories of coming back from school. There only being four channels in the U.K. at the time. Or, I only had access to four channels. And BBC Two, six to eight PM, TNG was showing.

And I had a fire on, because it was sideways rain outside. The house felt like it was shaking. I could see the sea lashing waves against everything, and people falling over, because it was so windy. And TNG was on, and I have this very warm, fuzzy feeling about what that meant. Like I said, I can’t say I’m an aficionado, but I’ve got just a fondness for it.

And I have become some entrenched in it, now. Matalas gave me a long list of episodes to watch. But even my son – and my daughter as well, but my son even more so – loves old TNG episodes. And he loves Picard! On the Thursday when [the season premiere] came out last week, it was the first time he’s looked at me and looked at something I’m in and been like, “Oh, you’re actually reasonably cool, dad.”

KAPLAN: What would you personally order from the replicator?

SPELEERS: Oh, gosh. A pint of Guinness. I know I can get that anywhere, but.

But also, a season ticket for the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club for me and my family.

KAPLAN: Is there anything else you’d like me to include?

SPELEERS: Just please be really positive about it! And demand that we need to see more Jack Crusher.

New episodes of Picard season 3 are available for streaming on Paramount+ on Thursdays.