Last night, a new Star Trek: Short Treks episode,The Trouble With Edward, dropped. It featured H. Jon Benjamin as a rather dysfunctional scientist named Edward Larkin. The actor spoke to IGN and Star Trek.com about appearing on Star Trek and playing the disgruntled scientist. Note: there are spoilers below, so if you haven’t seen The Trouble With Edward, wait until you see it before reading the rest of this.
Benjamin came to Star Trek young, watching reruns of the original series. “I can’t specify the exact year,” he said; “but I will say mid-1970s and it was The original series on my living room on the television. I watched when I was probably — I must’ve been like ten years old. I remember a whole bunch of them [because] I’d watch pretty regularly when I was a kid. That was probably the first science fiction I’d ever seen. So I was fascinated by it.”
The humor in the Short Treks episode is what interested Benjamin in the role. “I’d read the script and thought it was really funny and as I said, because I was a viewer of the original series,” said Benjamin. “[I remember] the tribbles episode being particularly iconic just because of how unique it was relative to the other [episodes]. So when I read The Trouble With Edward, it was a really funny idea, based on the outside. That’s sort of what got me interested. And then finding out later that a lot of people had no idea what tribbles were even; [as in] younger people who had come to Star Trek later. Some were not aware that tribbles came from TOS.”
Edward was an “outlier” of a character, said Benjamin. “Just like this one weird twist of what would not normally be… It is clear that his character in the science community would be classified as a loner. A lone wolf.”
The character made The Next Generation‘s Reginald Barclay look normal in comparison. “[You wonder] whether early on [Edward] was given the job by like a family member, you know,” said Benjamin. “That’s one way to look at it. But I think he’s perfectly competent as a scientist, just with no moral compass, no perspective, and no social skills. So I think that’s where he separates himself from everybody else. That was the big, I assume, comedy conceit of the thing. I think he probably considers himself very good at what he does and that there are no consequences to his research. So he’s sort of like a sociopath, I would imagine, but somewhat pathological about his work.”
Any chance of a return for the unwittingly destructive scientist? “I feel like he did die,” said Benjamin. “I guess somebody had brought up to me — maybe you survived, which I suppose you could make that case. I hope Edward Larkin survived. There must’ve been a button he could press to get out of that… Yeah, I like the idea of bringing this guy back and having him fuck up everything!”