In the 56 years of “Star Trek,” no character has come to be more important than Spock. He’s certainly easily recognizable to fans since his introduced in the original series that aired on NBC from 1966 to 1969.
But when Ethan Peck’s Spock made his first appearance on Season 2 of “Star Trek: Discovery,” he didn’t look anything like the character made famous by Nimoy, nor did he resemble the Zachary Quinto version from the three Kelvin timeline movies released between 2009 and 2016.
Sporting a beard and longer hair, Peck’s Spock was more disheveled and unkempt (due to his ordeal with the Red Angel), which required more detailed prosthetic work from department head Chris Bridges, who won an Emmy for his efforts.
“When we see Spock starting off on ‘Discovery,’ he’s sort of in a state of madness,” says Bridges. “The makeup itself was different, because Ethan wasn’t sure he wanted to shave off his brows, which would have made the whole process way easier. We spent two hours with him every morning. A brow prosthetic would cover his brow, and then we put on a lace brow.”
When the time came for the “Star Trek” throwback series “Strange New Worlds,” which finds Spock serving on the pre-Captain Kirk Enterprise under the command of Christopher Pike (played by Anson Mount), the prosthetic design evolved once again, and Spock looked more himself — or rather, the way he did in the first pilot for the series, “The Cage,” filmed in 1964.
“[Showrunner] Akiva Goldsman really wanted us to move in that direction,” Peck says. “That was the mission, to kind of achieve this rougher, less logical Spock. And that really informed a lot of the decisions that were made with regards to my ears, my hair, my eyebrows.”
Speaking of Peck’s eyebrows, the time had come to make a crucial decision. “I remember sitting down with Ethan and saying, ‘Let me shave your brows. They’ll grow back. I promise. As long as they don’t wax them or damage the follicle, they’ll grow back,’” Bridges laughs. “So, he was like, ‘All right, let’s do it.’”
That cut down the process from two hours to precisely 72 minutes. After spending 30 minutes on his hair, Peck proceeded to the prosthetics trailer, where Bridges was.
“He usually cleans up my eyebrows. He shaves if there’s been any regrowth on the edge,” Peck says.
Then came the ears, which were designed by Legacy Effects, the creature design and prosthetic vendor for “Strange New Worlds” that also worked on many of the Marvel Studios movies, including “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Captain America: Civil War” and all four “Avengers” installments.
“The ears came from these molds of my ears,” Peck says. “Every pair is fitted on a foam mold of my ear. He glues it on, and then he uses acetone to melt off the excess edge from the mold. Then there’s blow-drying done to help speed up the drying process, and then he blends the edge of the silicone ear with my skin, so that it creates a smoother surface. Once he’s done both ears, we glue on the edges of the eyebrows, which is a 5-10 minute process. And then he paints the ears and blends them into my skin before I get my makeup done.”
The pressure to get Spock just right isn’t lost on Bridges, who counts himself among the legions of Trekkies.
“If I pause too long to think about it, I start sweating. But I can tell you that countless hours and artistry have gone into refining his look. To me, it must be as good as it can get, and the responsibility is huge.”