Star Trek: Picard: Evan Evagora On Playing a New Kind of Romulan and Elnor's Relationship With Picard
It’s a big week for Evan Evagora. The Australian actor is making his debut to the world in two big roles. He’s in the Fantasy Island movie releasing in theaters this week, but before that, his character Elnor debuted in this week’s episode of Star Trek: Picard, “Absolute Candor.” Elnor is unlike any Romulan who has appeared in Star Trek before. Romulans have traditionally been defined by their secretive nature, but Elnor was raised in the tradition of absolute candor, total unfiltered honesty. ComicBook.com spoke to Evagora about finding Elnor’s character and his relationship with Jean-Luc Picard. SPOILERS for the Star Trek: Picard episode “Absolute Candor” follow.
In “Absolute Candor,” we learn that Picard knew Elnor when he was a boy. Picard brought Elnor to the planet Vashti during his efforts to relocate the Romulan people ahead of the supernova that consumed their homeworld. Picard left Elnor in the care of a sect of Romulan assassin nuns. The arrangement was meant to be temporary, but Picard’s resignation from Starfleet prevented him from seeing his promises to Elnor through.
Now that Picard has returned to space, he stopped by Vashti to seek the aid of one of those assassin nuns. In doing so, he learned that Elnor had never found a new home. After Picard pleads his case, Elnor decides his cause is hopeless enough to be worth swearing his blade to. Here’s what Evagora had to say about making his debut as Elnor:
Elnor is a Romulan, but he’s different from the Romulans we’ve met in pastStar Trekshows. What was it like trying to prepare and do research for the character while knowing that?
Evan Evagora: When I originally got the role, I was sent a cheat sheet of Star Trekepisodes to get an overall summary and run down. Some with the Borg, some with Romulans, DS9 episodes, and the interesting thing was that I always had this perception of how Romulans were. And then after I watched those, and a bunch of my favorite other episodes because I couldn't help myself, I was given the script and then I'm landing in LA, and meeting Michael Chabon and I found myself realizing that this entire other aspect, other side of Romulan culture that I don't know, that we don't know.
So really the preparation was just, as soon as I got the script, reading it and understanding my character and my character's world, and the world he'd grown up in, and what he would know about, the aspects he'd know about Romulan culture. My preparation for that really involved the script, being able to compare what I knew, versus what I'm learning. I had to throw out a lot of stuff, a lot of ideas that I was playing with going into it because I just knew that it wouldn't fit with my character.
Elnor is pretty good with a sword, which means you get to do some swordplay in this episode and probably going forward. How much of that is you? How much did you have to train for the role?
EE: I have no background in sword fight training whatsoever. I do have a very heavy boxing background, which can be used during fight scenes and stuff. It was pretty much the day I landed in LA, I got a phone call asking me if I could come down to the studio. So I came down to the studio. I met the stunt team. I met my amazing stunt double. Anytime you see Elnor running along walls, or running up and then flipping off stuff, that's him. He can just do it way better than I can, and he makes me look amazing.
In terms of the sword fighting, I went to the studio and I was given my prop sword, and we began going through sword fighting sequences and scenes from the show to start practicing. So the majority of the stuff that you see, I’m doing, in terms of fighting and swordplay.
One of the interesting things about Elnor and Picard is that we know Picard has never been all that fond of children. Now having this kind of ward that looks up to him like a father figure, that’s going to bring out a side of Picard that we’ve never seen before. Can you talk about what it was like working with Patrick Stewart both to find Elnor and to find this new side of Picard?
EE: When you watch TNG, you can see massive growth from the Picard that we finished watching, and the Picard now, but even if you look at the start of TNG, in season one, he doesn't really fraternize in the poker games with the rest of the crew. And then by the end of the series, you see him kind of loosen up a little bit, change and grow, and solidify the bonds he has with his crew. And I think that makes sense when you come into it now, and you see these flashbacks, you see the growth that he's made. He always wanted to help people, and I think the fact that Elnor was a child when he went to help just didn't make a difference. He was an orphan refugee, and I think that's where the bond was created.
We don’t get to see Elnor interact much with the rest of the characters on the ship in this episode, but I imagine his “absolute candor” philosophy should make those relationships interesting. Can you talk some about how he relates to those other characters?
EE: I won't give away too much, but there are some really, really great little moments with Elnor after “Absolute Candor” and someone on the ship. So I think the good thing about Elnor is he'll speak the truth at times when people don't necessarily want to hear it, but they should.
I think that's one of the great things about him. Reading the script, I found a lot of parallels and similarities between myself and Elnor. He was just about to enter this amazing world and head off onto an adventure, and a lot of the stuff was unknown things he'd never experienced before. And then me being an Australian boy moving over to LA for the first time, getting to act on a massive, significant thing that means so much to so many people. I found myself finding commonalities between myself and Elnor. And I think that's what the audience will see, as well. He's got this fresh take on the world because he's looking at all these things for the first time. Even lying. He doesn't really understand the concepts of lying. So I think hopefully by the end of the season, you'll see a lot of growth and change, but also the same things that make him interesting, and funny.
Do you think it’s fair to say that he fills the role of the “outsider” character like Spock and Data did in past Star Trek series?
EE: Yeah, I'd say he does. Every version of Star Trek has that character who's trying to understand the world and is looking at everything with a fresh face. And I think Elnor continues that.
Can you tell us anything about what’s coming up for Elnor throughout the rest of the season?
EE: I don't really want to give much away, but I will say there's some nice moments between Seven of Nine and Elnor. I don't really want to give too much away, because it would just spoil the story, and there's some really great moments. But that really sticks out in my memory. I have some really good scenes with Michelle Hurd, as well as Patrick. Really it's been a great ensemble cast, and I think we all work well off of each other. And I think you'll see how all of our stories interconnect and intertwine, and how we each deal with the similar trauma we've experienced, but how it's affected each one differently.
New episodes of Star Trek: Picard become available to stream Thursdays on CBS All Access.
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