Rainn Wilson is a “Start Trek” nerd, so when he got wind of “Star Trek: Discovery” being in development, he reacted the way any of us would. Except he could actually get a meeting with the folks that matter (unlike everyone at Geek Prime).
“When I first read…that they were developing a new “Star Trek,” I asked — I begged to meet with the producers, and said ‘listen, I grew up watching “Star Trek,” I love it, I’ve seen every episode, I’d love to be a part of this somehow,’” Wilson recounted to fans at Seattle’s Emerald City Comic Con.
The producers told Wilson they didn’t have a series regular character they thought fit him, but said they’d keep him in mind. Most times, this means ‘forget about it.’ But then, inspiration from The Original Series found Wilson playing an iconic role.
Wilson studied Mudd’s TOS appearances, but said he didn’t want the role to be an imitation. And he found inspiration in an unlikely place: Dwight Schrute.
Bringing Harry Mudd back to the Trek-verse “was kind of like Dwight, in a way,” Wilson told the crowd. “I was playing a character, Gareth, from the English ‘[The] Office,’ and I kind of took some qualities from him that I liked and gave [Dwight] some other qualities that made him more contemporary and American and suited me better, and that’s what I wanted to do with Harry Mudd.”
“There’s an aspect of Harry Mudd, certainly he’s very funny, certainly he’s also pretty villainous….there’s been several times in The Original Series where Harry Mudd, essentially in the second episode [in which he appears]…he really wants to kill the entire crew of the Enterprise.”
Reflecting on making his own Mudd character, Wilson said, “how do you combine humorous and dastardly and then put it in this particular universe of ‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ which is a darker world, they’re at war with the Klingons — has a very different feeling and emotional quality and even visual quality…especially for the first season.”
“I needed to have him fit into [‘Discovery’s’ universe] as well. You couldn’t have this sort of floppy, comic character showing up in the middle of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ — they’re at war, people are dying, the fate of the universe is in their hands. So he had to fit in to that as well.”
Fit in he did, as Wilson’s Mudd plagued Captain Lorca and the crew of Discovery several times in the show’s first season. Looking back on the opportunity, Wilson seems happy with his contribution to Trek canon.
“It’s been one of the most fun characters I ever got to play,” the Seattle native told the hometown crowd.
Mudd hasn’t appeared in “Star Trek: Discovery’s” second season, and might not be the right foil for Captain Pike. But with a third season following this one, anything is on the table for the universe’s greatest con man.