Warning: This Interview Contains SPOILERS for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Episode 9 – “All Those Who Wander”
Jess Bush has redefined the iconic role of Nurse Christine Chapel on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Not only is Chapel part of the USS Enterprise’s medical team, but she has grown very close to Spock (Ethan Peck), which means Christine has found herself caught up in a love triangle with him and his Vulcan fiancée, T’Pring (Gia Sandhu). ).
But Bush’s incarnation of Chapel has also proven to be extremely bright and capable. Whether she is fighting off pirates trying to hijack the Enterprise or bravely facing down murderous baby Gorn, Nurse Chapel is a force to be reckoned with on Strange New Worlds, and she has become an instant favorite of Trekkers.
Screen Rant had the pleasure to interview the delightful Jess Bush about how Star Trek: Strange New Worlds changed her life, her aspirations to direct, her perspective on Nurse Chapel’s relationship with Spock, and what it’s like being the latest Australian actor in Star Trek.
Screen Rant: You’re blowing up. I saw your profiles in Vanity Fair and The Hollywood Reporter. Would you say Star Trek has changed your life?
Jess Bush: Absolutely. It changed my life long before all the press started. It changed my life from the moment that I booked the job, honestly, which was now a year and a half ago.
Episode 8, “The Elysian Kingdom,” seems to be the cast’s favorite episode. What was shooting episode 8 like for you with the fantasy sets and the costumes?
Jess Bush: Oh my goodness. What blew me away the most were the sets. The effort and the love that went into the sets was just marvelous. I remember stepping into the Medbay set and [my] jaw dropped. It was a forest! It was a beautiful forest, and every corner of the room was stunningly lit. It was very easy to be transported.
I talked to [Costume Designer] Bernadette Croft about the costumes. How did you like yours?
Jess Bush: I loved it! I loved it so much. [It] fulfilled my childhood dreams of being a good witch. (laughs) With the full corset and big wig and I got to wear my jewelry. My jewelry [Jess designed with Red Sky at Night Jewellry] made it into the costume, which was amazing.
Last week, I interviewed [Strange New Worlds episode 7’s director] Sydney Freeland but right before we got on the call, I saw your Instagram story about shadowing her as a director. Talk to me about your aspirations to direct.
Jess Bush: Throughout season 1, I had a little bit more time off than I have in season 2. I used that to make the most of the experience and shadowed quite a number of the directors. Which was wonderful because, yes, I do have aspirations to direct in the future, but also, I found it so valuable to be there on the days when I was not focusing as an actor to see how everything worked outside of my job. To see what happens when we’re not there.
When we’re not shooting a scene, [we actors] are off somewhere else resting while everyone else sets everything up. It was really fascinating to be a fly on the wall. No one really recognized me. I really blended in because we were in the middle of the pandemic, we had masks, and I wear a wig while I’m [Nurse Chapel] so my hair was different and my clothes are very different. I could really be incognito. I think it’s really valuable to understand the bigger picture of how all of this comes together and how many artists put all of their attention into this. It’s really special.
Sydney was amazing. It was such a special experience. Shooting with her as an actor was wonderful. She was one of my favorite [directors] from the season, if not my favorite. But on my off days, I was also shadowing her, and she was just so generous with her time and her ideas. She obviously loves her job so much and she’s very good at it. She really wanted to create a valuable experience for me, which I could really see, and I appreciated it to no end. While managing this set of hundreds of people and heading this giant episode, she was also thinking of ways that she could design exercises for me on the fly, which was unbelievable. I felt like we had a really wonderful connection and I enjoyed every minute of it. [I’m] so grateful for her generosity. I learned a lot from her. It was great.
Your portrayal of Nurse Chapel and the way that character has developed is amazing. I openly ship Spock and Chapel.
Jess Bush: [laughs] Me too.
But I also ship Spock and T’Pring. This is quite the love triangle the show has built up. In episode 7, Chapel told Spock after their kiss that she has no feelings for him. Of course, that is not true.
Jess: For sure. It was not Chapel’s intention to get into this situation. In regards to her feelings for Spock, she did not angle for this. It’s just something that kind of unfolded against her better judgment. I think she has been quite disarmed by his candor. This connection has developed quite organically between them.
But that moment at the end [of episode 7]… Chapel has a really strong moral compass. She’s not about to go and do that to T’Pring. She would never do that to another woman, and she’d never do that to herself, and she’d never do that to Spock.
I think that moment was more of a warning, like, “Do not make this messy.” We’re not going there, is basically what she’s saying. We’re really good friends, and I really respect you, and this is where we’re gonna stay because no one’s gonna get hurt. So I think that is what is behind her neatly shutting that down.
But should T’Pring be worried? In episode 9, Spock lets his emotions loose and can’t contain them. But Christine is there to help. I really like how she ‘gets’ him.
Jess Bush: I’m gonna keep tight-lipped about that, whether T’Pring should be worried.
In episode 9, you also got to go on a landing party mission and it turned into a horror episode. What was it like being stalked by baby Gorn on the set? That was a big change from Sickbay.
Jess Bush: For sure. I loved shooting episode 9. It was a real challenge, in a great way. It felt super ambitious. I felt very privileged to be the one to encounter the baby Gorn first. I felt like that was a big honor. In regard to it being an away mission, I think Chapel’s always down for that. I think she’s pretty up for the experience. Episode 9 was one of my favorites to film. I think portraying primal fear is something really electrifying and really fun.
And we lost Hemmer (Bruce Horak) at the end. That was tragic.
Jess Bush: Oh, Bruce!
You’re also the latest Australian in Star Trek.
Jess Bush: Yeah!
It’s a who’s who. Chris Hemsworth, Evan Evagora, Eric Bana. The Aussies are taking over.
Jess Bush: It was really nice when I first booked the role. I got a message from Evan, like, “Welcome! It’s so nice to have another Aussie on board. Welcome to the Star Trek family.” That was really cool. He’s lovely.
Maybe you guys should form a little club within Star Trek.
Jess Bush: Oh, I would like that. That would be cool. I think Australian actors have a reputation for being very hardworking. I think that bears well for us overseas. Not to say that anyone else does not, but we grind. We grind hard.
Have you been back since you’ve been on Star Trek?
Jess Bush: We had a short break between season 1 and season 2 so we had maybe 3 or 4 months. It was a quick turnaround.
How far along are you in season 2?
Jess Bush: We are halfway through shooting the finale now. I’ve got three more days on set.
I’ve heard your castmates say that season 1 blows season 1 out of the water.
Jess Bush: Oh my God, I’m so excited for you to see it. Season 1, we’re all so proud of. In season 2, the writing is amazing. Everything is just stepped up.
Check out our other interviews with Star Trek: Strange New Worlds stars Gia Sandhu, Christina Chong, Rebecca Romijn, Ethan Peck, Jesse James Keitel, and Anson Mount.
Next: Strange New Worlds Has Its Own Evil Spock (Not Mirror Universe)
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds‘season 1 finale streams Thursday, July 7, on Paramount +.
Umbrella Academy: Christopher’s Cube Powers Explained
About The Author