Anyone who watched last night’s Star Trek: Discovery episode got to see quite a bit of Airiam, played by Hannah Cheesman, and finally learned her backstory. Cheesman was recently interviewed by SyFy Wire where she spoke about being cast as the android-like character, getting advice from her predecessor, and the events of last night’s episode.
If you haven’t seen Project Daedalus yet, go and see it and then come back to read this article as there will be spoilers from the episode.
When Cheesman auditioned for a role in Star Trek: Discovery, she didn’t what part she would be offered. “I didn’t even know which role that I was auditioning for,” she said. “I knew it was an android-esque character. Once I got the role, the team did the [makeup] fittings, because all prosthetics are very bespoke. But I did not know at the top of the season of what I was stepping into.”
Cheesman was taking on the role formerly played by Sara Mitich, who helped her with advice on portraying Airiam. “Before going to the set the first time, I had a very long conversation with Sara,” she said. “She gave me the ins and outs of her take on the character. We spent half a day on set, where she and I stood by my station and she explained to me, this is where the Spore Drive is. This is what I do when we engage the Spore Drive. This is what this button does. I got to know her physical embodiment of the character.”
So what is Airiam? “This was never explained, and it may never be, but I think that the only thing that would keep her alive would be to be turned into a partially mechanized android type,” said Cheesman. “And that she made the decision to continue living despite those losses. Not every detail is spelled out. It’s part of the actor’s role within Star Trek to discover and decide these things. I feel quite an ownership and authorship to the character now.”
Cheesman believes that she is a “predecessor to Data. And Data was one of my favorite characters on TNG. Brent Spiner had such a humor about him in that role. So I knew there was room to expand and make the character not just robotic.”
Will Airiam ever return to Discovery? “I hope I come back,” said Cheesman. “But I’m equally in the dark with the rest of the fans. My dream, though, is this…they do use her memories and bring her back. But she’s somehow more humanoid and I don’t have to wear the prosthetics.
“So, I would love to come back, but even if it’s like Airiam goes to her room and takes off her mask. So, her memories are there, and if we are what we’ve experienced, then she’s alive.”
Source: SyFy Wire