The fickle mime and character actor Doug Jones has portrayed a menagerie of unique Hollywood monsters for over three decades.
His lean and lanky form has been the perfect base for the beasts and creatures in director Guillermo del Toro’s projects, from the Pale Man and Faun in Pan’s Labyrinth and Abe Sapien in Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army to a sexy amphibian man. known as the Asset in the 2018 Oscar-winning film The Shape of Water.
But throughout his glittering career under layers of latex rubber, make-up and dentures, it’s Jones’s challenging role as the campy officer Kelpien Saru on the sci-fi series Paramount Plus. “Star Trek: Discovery“this was his longest-running professional gig to date.
To celebrate the new Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 On the Blu-ray set that landed on July 20, Space.com spoke to Jones about his promotion to the rank of Federation starship captain and the challenges and responsibilities involved, how he continued to make Sarah a fan favorite and how what awaits the ungulates. Kelpien ends shooting in the fourth season. This interview has been edited for clarity.
Connected: Star Trek: The Discovery Season 4 Teaser Trailer Sounds Like Any Other Season
Space.com: How has this last season changed you as an actor and a person?
Doug Jones: Well, like Sarah, Doug Jones had to face some fears and overcome them. I came to Star Trek: Discovery thinking I was going to be the second player and was happy with that position. I like being a minor player. Take the captain’s chair? I knew this meant a lot of workload as more scenes had to go through the Captain and all decisions made had to be approved, so he was involved in a lot more.[Actor] Sonekwa-Martin Green is still the star of our show and [her role] Michael Burnham is a character we’re following, but Sarah has slightly increased his screen time in Season 3. And it was pretty scary because it means more than 15-17 hours a day with full makeup, contact lenses and shoes that hurt my legs. So, I took a deep breath and thought, “Let’s go!”
The honor of this has not been lost for me: it puts me in a very small small club of actors who were able to play the ship captains of Starfleet in this franchise. This is a very exclusive and lovely club to become a part of. And to do it as an alien species – I’m the first alien species to ever take the captain’s chair of a title ship in the franchise. This is a great honor.
Space.com: Of all the iconic creatures you’ve portrayed in your career, what makes Sarah so creatively interesting?
Jones: I know him better than any other character I’ve ever played because I’ve played more of him. After three seasons, and now we’re filming Season 4 and we’re almost done with it, I’ve lived in Sarah’s shoes more than any character I’ve played. I had the time and luxury to explore his inner workings and peel layers like a bow. It’s like a long engagement: the longer the engagement lasts, the more you’ll learn about the person you’re about to marry.
I love that Sarah is not an insensitive alien. As a Kelpien, he is very attached to his emotions, feels and uses them all. I love that his concern for others is what we all strive for. He takes over the command of not only Starfleet, but also in a fatherly way, looking at his entire crew as family. When we move into the future 930 years, all we have is each other. We are now in a land of obscurity and we still have each other. He uses the word “together” so many times in season three, and it’s a thought and emotion that I really like.
Space.com: As Sarah becomes the cornerstone of the show and a fan favorite, does that add additional pressure to the role?
Jones: Pressure? Yes. And should I respond to this pressure? Yes. In real life, I’m a pretty lazy actor. Less is more to me. So when it was assigned the responsibility of the captain, it brought an entire world of fear. Playing Sarah for these three seasons and now the fourth, he inspired me. Sarah helped educate Doug Jones on how to better perceive the world around him. We can receive the same stimuli from two different things, but perceive them differently.
Sarah goes from looking fearful to losing his threat nodes and now pushes forward with a courage and confidence he has never had before. He still faces the same threats and dangers, but he responds to them like this: “We can get through this.” And I think Doug Jones should accept that too.
If I am facing more fear of more dialogue, more scenes, more responsibility for the film, more fans who may be upset or happy with me, then I will use Sarah’s newfound courage. Yes, this is a task that I can handle, and I will.
Space.com: What new elements did you bring to Sarah’s performance in Season 3?
Jones: Well, I guess the Downton Abbey butler is still part of Saru. He is very prim and decent, loves to adhere to protocols, and then diplomacy. He’s all about it. I also think there is a bit of Stabler Detective Christopher Meloney from Law & Order: IED. He walks with a very cocky confidence, and I think Sarau added that to his behavior when he lost his threatening ganglia. Now that he is the captain, he should have that kind of confidence as he walks into a room, knowing that his opinion matters and that he may be right on any topic.
Space.com: Season four is almost over, what can you tease about what awaits us?
Jones: Since we are still filming, I cannot tell you “damn it”.
The last time we saw Sarah, he was on his home planet of Kaminar, helping Su’Kal find his way as a Kelpien. He handed over the captain’s chair to Captain Burnham, and she flies off with the team on a new mission. So I am not deprived of my status as Captain of Starfleet. How they hook me up and how they use me in Season 4 is something we still have to figure out.
Star Trek: Discovery: Season 3 available on Blu-ray, DVD and Blu-ray Steelbook.
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