Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Discovery actor Anthony Rapp reflects on death controversy

Star Trek: Discoveryspoilers follow.

Anthony Rapp has reflected on the fan backlash over one of the most controversial Star Trek: Discovery deaths.

Fans have rallied around the romance of Discovery crew members Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) and Paul Stamets (Rapp) since early on in the show's run, so there was an outcry when the Klingon Voq viciously killed Culber back in season one.

Although Culber was eventually resurrected, Digital Spy recently asked Rapp to look back on how the series has impacted the LGBTQ+ community with Stamets and Culber.

"Going in, one of my very best friends is a huge Star Trek fan, like he was, in the early days, mimeographing fan letters," he told us. "And he's gay, and he's been a part of the LGBT Star Trek fandom forever. So I've gotten clued in through him about what the hunger was for it, for that kind of storytelling and representation. So, he's been a great conduit for me to hear back the feedback."

Rapp continued: "So, there's different pieces of it; 99% of what I've heard has been positive in the sense of our presence is positively embraced. Every once in a while, there's some person on a – like I'll just post something, a picture of Wilson and me from the show, and 99 of the replies and tweets will be happy and supportive and proud, and then one or two will be like a vomit emoji, right? So, that's just going to happen. It's anecdotal, but overwhelmingly, there's positive response. So, that's cool."

Directly addressing the controversy over Culber's death, he explained: "There was understandable hurt or confusion about Hugh dying. But even though we were always like – at a certain point, we had to kind of intervene and say, 'It's Star Trek, so things can happen. He can come back.' Both things are understandable.

"I was actually, at that time, I've become more educated about the tropes. I didn't know that gay people dying in that way was a trope, per se, and I've learned, and of course, I understand even more so why that was, for many people, hurtful.

"From a writing perspective, I think they were trying to say ours was the most significant relationship, so they wanted to have something really bad happen that would really test things: test me, test Sonequa's character. So, that was, in terms of storytelling, the highest-stake thing you could do. If it was just some random character, it wouldn't matter as much.

"So I understand why they did that. At the same time, I understand the fallout. And then I felt like they did a really good job of working through the coming back. So, there was negativity around the death, but then also a lot of positivity around how it resolved."

Star Trek: Discovery returns for season 3 on October 15, 2020. It airs on CBS All Access in the US and Netflix internationally, including the UK.

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