On Saturday, October 8th, 2022, in advance of the Star Trek Universe panel at New York Comic Con 2022, The Beat had the opportunity to take part in a Star Trek: Prodigy roundtable discussion with series stars Brett Gray (Captain Dal R’el) and Ella Purnell (Gwyn).
During the first half of the first season of Prodigy, which was created by Kevin and Dan Hageman, we were introduced to Dal and Gwyn as they found themselves on the bridge of the USS Protostar. Before the Prodigy midseason premiere on October 27th, 2022, the actors fielded questions over Zoom about everything from working with veteran voice actors to their food replicator preferences.
This roundtable has been edited for clarity.
DIANA MARSH from Metal Life Magazine: How much input do you have in the way that you voice your characters, or the way they react to certain situations?
ELLA PURNELL: It’s quite collaborative with the Hagemans. I think me and Brett are quite similar in that we both get in the booth and get crazy with it, moving around a lot. Usually, that’s the problem, that I’m moving around too much.
I mean, they’re super open. There’s a lot of conversation, and like I said before, the more you do it, the more you understand your character and the more you’re all on the same page. And the more you start to come up with, “oh, maybe we can change the line to this,” or “do you really think this would work?” And it becomes more of a conversation.
But in terms of – I mean, they know the characters so well. And they know the overarching themes, and where it’s going to go, with hopefully many more seasons to come. So yeah. It’s definitely very, definitely very collaborative.
BRETT GRAY: I would totally agree. Totally totally totally agree. There’s so much wiggle room to say, “maybe I would say it more like this,” or “maybe the line should be something like this.” They’re super collaborative.
RYAN T. HUSK with The Seventh Rule podcast (co-hosted by Cirroc Lofton): Did you watch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine?
GRAY: To be honest, I have not watched DS9, but it is definitely on my list of the canon – I know, I know! I feel like that’s blasphemy at this point. But no, to be honest, Prodigy was my first introduction into Star Trek, and at first I thought, “I should do my research, and watch everything, and make sure that I’m up and ready for these type of things.”
But I’ve been enjoying so much of the freedom of not having something to give reference to, and I really wanted to come into this show and have a fresh perspective on what the Star Trek world might be like. Especially aimed at younger audiences. I know my own energy to be playful, and non-serious. I think because of my lack of research and knowledge, it’s embedded Dal with natural curiosity and wonder.
So the answer is: not yet. But, tell [Cirroc] thank you, and I love him.
HUSK: Outside of Prodigy, have cast members from other series spoken to you or welcomed you?
PURNELL: Not yet – and now that you’ve mentioned it… No, I’m kidding.
No, no, I haven’t, but this is also my introduction to the Star Trek universe, so I didn’t know much about it. It’s very intimidating! I was expecting more the fans to – they’re the scary ones, they’re the ones I want to impress the most! But everyone’s been incredibly welcoming, so it’s been really fun, joining in.
GRAY: I feel like the best answer I can say is Janeway (Kate Mulgrew). Kate has been so welcoming and so warm and so fun to learn from and be around. Whenever I get to see her, it’s always a good time. You know, I’ve gotten to do a few Star Trek Days and a few comic cons, and there’s been people sprinkled here and there.
I always get a very warm welcome every time there’s something to do with Star Trek. It’s so much fun.
I got to meet LeVar Burton, which is crazy, because you know, on my sick days home from school, I would watch Reading Rainbow, and it was such a vibe. It’s really cool to be a part of it.
AVERY KAPLAN with The Beat: If you had access to a food replicator, what meal would you ask it for first?
PURNELL: My favorite question.
Does it have to be just one meal? It would be a weird one – don’t judge me. It would be Yorkshire puddings combined with cacao e pepe. And if I get to choose a drink it would be Diet Coke. Don’t judge me, I’m like a six-year-old in a woman’s body. I don’t understand either. And the dessert would be apple crumble.
GRAY: Wow. I want, like, corn bread, collard greens, and, baked —
You know what? I would also ask the food replicator if the food could just taste like the stuff I want, and could be full of protein and nutrients and goodness. I’d get sweet potatoes, maybe snow crab legs with butter, and again, apple pie to finish it all off.
And maybe a vanilla milkshake, but non-dairy – just all love and vitamin C and all those things.
ERIC SEUTHE II with Nerd News Social: When playing as a child, it can be difficult to get in the mindset. How do present these younger voices in the adult situations?
PURNELL: Like I said, I’m a six-year-old trapped in a woman’s body, so it’s not that hard to – no, I’m kidding.
Gwyn is seventeen, and I feel like when I was seventeen, I’m kind of just the same as I am now, just a bit more naïve. Without having had the lessons.
I actually think that Gwyn is the opposite, because when we meet her, she’s way older than her years. She’s been kept under The Diviner (John Noble)’s thumb and made to do all these terrible things, but she has to put on this very cold, hard exterior in order to survive on Tars Lamora and gain her father’s respect.
I think for her, it’s actually about aging her down as the season progresses. Making her act her real age, and let her hair down and have fun. I’m very childish and playful in real life, anyway, so just tapping into that side of myself. The naivety of learning for things for the first time, which you forget as you become old and weathered.
GRAY: And jaded!
I would say the same thing. I’m pretty much a child. So it’s just tapping into those playful, high-energy moments of yourself. And I would say, big credit to the writers and producers of the show, because they do such a great job crafting and creating the arcs for us, and the lines for us, so we can just try and bring life to the moments and things that are already written for us.
But yeah, it’s really hard to be in the studio sometimes and imagine your first time seeing the Delta Quadrant. But you just have to have fun with it. I think Ella and I are very similar in that we do crazy things and stand up and make faces and all the things to get good performance. Just having fun.
SEUTHE II: Would you be interested in playing an older version of your characters in live action in a future Star Trek project?
GRAY: 100%. Paint me purple!
ELLA: Absolutely, that would be fun.
GRAY: Lots of prosthetics, and I’m here for it.
THE TOM C. from The Hashtag Show: Obviously you are coming in with some veteran voice actors. What’s it like for you to realize you’re playing with these phenomenal actors?
PURNELL: It’s amazing. It’s an honor. But I think I’ve probably met John once… I’ve met Kate a few times in press. But we record it on our own in the booth, so we don’t get to play opposite each other.
On the rare occasion, sometimes they would have pre-recorded [Noble’s] lines, and I’d get to play off him. But before I’d done any voice over, I though we’d all just be standing in a line in one room. But apparently, that’s not how it works.
But it’s still pretty amazing when you watch the show, to hear all the pieces come together, and everything slots in. It feels very overwhelming.
GRAY: Yeah, totally.
I’d say it’s always going to be an honor and a privilege when you get to work with people who are so, so, so huge. For me, it’s just about learning whenever I can. I get to do some really fun stuff, in terms of playing with other characters and voices and other iterations of my character. I’m just trying to make sure that when they hear the show, and when they see the show, they feel okay with us being there.
The first ten episodes of Prodigy season 1 are currently available for streaming on Paramount+. The season 1 midseason premiere will be released on October 27th.