‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’: Making Spock Look Like Spock

Head of prosthetics Chris Bridges tells IndieWire about Ethan Peck's post-"Discovery" makeover — and the creation of his Vulcan-in-disguise look for the pilot.
Pictured: Rebecca Romijn as Una, Anson Mount as Pike and Ethan Peck as Spock of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS. Photo Cr: Marni Grossman/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.
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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” (Paramount+) introduces the five-year mission of the USS Enterprise pre-Kirk. Under the command of Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), we witness the young science officer Spock (Ethan Peck) becoming the iconic Vulcan that Leonard Nimoy made famous in “The Original Series.” That meant distinguishing him from the disheveled look Peck sported in his appearances as Spock on “Star Trek: Discovery.”

Head of prosthetics Chris Bridges calls “Strange New Worlds” “a love letter to the original with a slight modernization.” “And that’s what we’ve done with Spock’s makeup,” Bridges told IndieWire. “It’s an homage to the classic elements of Nimoy, but it’s been slightly modernized to fit Ethan’s face.”

Bridges, who was responsible for Spock’s shaggy hair and beard on “Discovery,” was tasked by showrunners Akiva Goldsman and Henry Alonso Myers with making Spock look like Spock. On “Strange New Worlds” he worked with Legacy Effects on the prosthetics. This entailed tweaking the ears and brows.

“The ears were a little different, more stylized in ‘Discovery,'” Bridges said. “The inside had more weight to it and jutted out in the center. That’s gone away now. We tested two or three kinds of ears before we found the one we liked. Legacy redesigned them and now it looks a lot closer to Nimoy’s ears, so I think they’re truer to the original. They’re also a very special mold so they’re seamless and it helps the application go smoother.”

In the new series, Spock sports his familiar haircut, but with a slight variation. The hair, which in Season 1 was done by hair stylist Jasmine Crosdale, is softened in how the bangs arc down, but it’s not a bowl cut. “It was strategically cut so it complements and frames Ethan’s face really nice,” added Bridges.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Behind the scenes of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds”Marni Grossman/Paramount+

But this Spock’s brows are less angled than Nimoy’s. Again, this worked better with Peck’s face. “Ethan’s brows are very specialized because of the angle and how they tapered off and were very distinct in the original series,” Bridges said. “And the angle of Ethan’s brows is not quite as steep and doesn’t taper off to this very pencil thin line. There’s still a bit of weight left to his brow. Instead of putting him in layers of makeup, I cleaned up his brow and integrated a lace brow into his own brow, which is shaved in half.”

Makeup was responsible for Spock’s longer sideburns in Season 1 and handled by Maribeth Knezev. “Sideburns are shaved and shaped with his own hair and filled in by hand, if necessary,” Bridges added.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Ethan Peck and Akiva Goldsman on the set of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds”Marni Grossman/Paramount+

In the pilot episode, Peck actually required a double prosthetic makeup job. The episode’s rescue-mission plot tasks Spock with blend in with the inhabitants of the planet Kiley 279. The Kiley prosthetic from Legacy was a fairly simple forehead piece consisting of a V pattern of lines that extend down around the eyes and nose bridge. “We needed a prosthetic that was easy and fast to apply and that was interesting to look at,” Bridges said. “We’ve seen foreheads from a lot of sci-fi shows and we experimented with this design. We did over 100 makeups on some days. The Legacy design team [also] made alien brows and cheek pieces and noses.

“For Ethan, we had a life cast, and the makeup effects team in LA sculpted and molded the piece to fit his face. The makeup also encompassed textural colored design work. We had special stencils made that we could put over the makeup and air brush. They look like tattoos but were coloring. There were days when he started out as Spock and ended up as Kiley.”

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