ET spoke with the actress about Thursday's season closer and a brewing new romance for Raffi.
Warning: If you haven't watched the season finale of CBS All Access' Star Trek: Picard, what are you doing here? Bookmark this page, watch the episode and then come back for all the scoop on what's to come.
In the season one finale of CBS All Access' Star Trek: Picard, a resurrected Admiral Jean-Luc Picard -- no longer crippled by his terminal illness -- formed his trusty new La Sirena crew made up of Jurati (Alison Pill), Raffi (Michelle Hurd), Soji (Isa Briones), Elnor (Evan Evagora), Rios (Santiago Cabrera) and Narek (Harry Treadaway), and looked ahead to the future as they beamed off to their latest mission. But getting to this point -- successfully fending off the hundreds-deep Romulan fleet and curing "JL," as Raffi affectionately calls Picard, of his ills -- had its ups and downs.
Hurd hopped on the phone with ET to discuss the emotional season finale (including Raffi and Picard's goodbye scene), reflect on her Star Trek journey thus far and what she's hoping to explore in the second season.
ET: What has that journey been like for you being a part of such an iconic franchise like Star Trek?
Michelle Hurd: It's been an amazing experience. I knew that when I got the job that it was going to be unlike anything I've ever experienced before. Personally, selfishly, I was ecstatic and so excited to have the opportunity to work with Patrick Stewart. I didn't really know what Raffi's world would be with Picard and what Michelle's were to be with Patrick. And during the journey... to experience, "Wow, she and he have this really unique relationship. They've had history. They go back. They deal with each other differently than any other characters deal with Picard." And I felt so, so ... I don't even know what the word is. I was going to say spoiled because I spend my days working with Patrick Stewart on a character that is so complex, layered, and yet so much more truthful and human than I've ever gotten an opportunity to bring to life before.
I'm working with producers who I love and they love and respect me, and I love and respect them. And directors that are so good and have directed the s**t out of episodes. It's been amazing to watch. The first time we got to see the whole show was when we went to the Cinerama Dome [in January] and had our screening. It was like a two-hour movie, and to see what Hanelle [Culpepper] had done. She directed the s**t out of that. It was gorgeous. I selfishly was hoping that it would be the experience that it has been, and I've been so pleasantly surprised that it has surpassed everything that I could've hoped for and then some in this journey.
What has been the most gratifying part?
I love the fact that I'm part of a series that has been so respectful and so inclusive of people of diverse cultures and inclusion, and making sure that others are not outsiders but are the insiders, the people who tell the story. That's unlike anything that I've experienced before. And to interact with the fans; they're so kind, they're so generous, they're so protective. I clicked over to the Star Trek unofficial fan page. It's so wonderful to hear them hypothesizing, and drawing conclusions, and connecting dots, and then every now and then you get some random person who says like, "This sucks," or something like that. And to see how the fans react, they protect it. They're like, "Look, dude. If you don't like this, get off this page. This is a family. We're talking about things that we love and if you don't love it then get off." I'm humbled to be a part of this.
How much did they tell you initially about who you were playing because they do like to hold their secrets close to the vest...
I didn't know anything. In fact, one day I should try to find the breakdown of the audition that came to me in my email because all I had -- I'm sure you know, they never say it's Star Trek. I think ours was called Drawing Room or something. When I got that audition, it was for a self-tape. I was in my New York apartment and they wanted it the next day, and I was having a foot operation the next day. I was like, "Forget this! It's not going to happen," because I didn't really know what it was. Then, I thought, let me be a better little actor bunny and read all the information. So I read the breakdown and saw who was producing it, directing.
When I read the breakdown of the character, it said, "This woman is haunted by a decision she's made in the past. There's regret. She has vices that she leans on as crutches. She is an addict. She's struggling to do the right thing. She feels betrayed." Stuff that was so beautifully wounded. I know actors always talk about [how] we love playing those kinds of characters, but it's because there's so much more truth with where we can make our choices, you know? When you have people who are much more damaged, and in pain, and regretful, and desiring to fix, you can dive deep. You can pull things from your own life, from friends and family's lives, from things that are happening in the world. You have so much more information that you can draw on, and then to be able to pair that with Patrick Stewart -- hi! -- somebody who's going to, no matter what, offer you a rich bounty of reactions and authentic acting, you can't help but get better.
Let's dig into the finale, which was a wonderful bookend to the season and went full circle in a lot of ways. By the end of the season, Raffi and Picard have moved past their beef. Can you talk about where their relationship is now versus where it was at the start?
When we first see Raffi and Picard together, she is still harboring deep feelings of betrayal. When she knows something's wrong, she just goes after it, right? And she knew that something was wrong with what was happening in the Federation. She felt that she and Picard were going to team up together to rescue millions of Romulans, millions of lives. And when the Federation let her down, Picard let her down. It's something she carried and felt responsible for. She felt that it was her fault those individuals died. She drank, smoked and burrowed into her trailer in the desert because of that, left her child. When she sees Picard, it's heartbreak, and betrayal, and anger, and rage, and frustration. But at the end of it, if there's a possibility that she can fix or right the wrong that was done, she's going to go for it.
The hope was, "I think he might understand that there really was something wrong and he might actually be doing this. I'm going to do it because it was to fix what was broken, what was wrong." During the whole journey, she sees him as more human and not perfect, and having the same human traits that we all do. We all make mistakes, he's struggling and he's trying to do the best he can. And when he tells them of his diagnosis, it surprises her how much it hurts her because he was more to her than just a captain. He was a mentor. He was the person that helped her get out of her addiction. He was a lifesaver. He helped her pull herself back out even though it's been a little bumpy, and she'll be an addict for the rest of her life. She's been working hard to get a handle on that, and to hear that he's got a terminal diagnosis just breaks her heart again. I'm sure you have people in your life who sometimes always take things on themselves... they feel like whatever happened, they caused it -- even though that's irrational. Raffi has that tendency.
To get to the place at the end where there's now hope, there's now a possibility for her to stay at a sober place as best she can. It will always be up and down. But to see that he's renewed in a way that she hadn't seen him before. She now has the information. Everything's sort of out in the open. The people who did right or wrong, it's been stated now. We can all acknowledge it and move on.
Was there a specific moment from the season that had you a little emotional?
The whole thing starting with Data and the dream of playing cards in the ending. I can't even...
I can't even with that final scene with Data.
I can't even, honey, I can't even! As you said, it is a perfect circle. The thing that's so beautiful about it is it really does mirror how complicated relationships we have with people are, you know? There are people in my own life right now who I love and still drive me f**king crazy! Because we do love them but we know all the other stuff that goes with it and we have to understand why people have certain issues and find space for them, and find patience, and understand that they're still part of our community, part of our society, and part of our family.
One of the scenes from the finale that got me a little verklempt was when Raffi says goodbye to Picard as his body is dying and they share a genuine moment of understanding and love. What was your reaction when you first read the scene? What was it like to film?
It was kind of beautiful and we actually worked on it a bunch because we wanted to make sure... It's an interesting thing, especially when you're telling a story on film because in person, one on one, there are simple nuances that can be understood. When you do it on film, you have to be really careful... When she says "I love you," I remember we had to stop and we had to work on some other verbiage because I said, "I don't want people to read into it like they're lovers."
But it's important for these two adult individuals to say these words to each other for so many reasons because it's that moment when somebody in your life has helped you in ways that you didn't even know you could be helped, and it's that moment in time where you've been able to be mature enough and forgive yourself enough, to reach your hand out and say, "Thank you. Thank you for helping me." And that's what we really wanted to convey, that there's been a growth on both sides and also for all of us, especially in this crazy time, to take those moments and say, "Thank you." Say "I love you." Say those things because we're not always guaranteed tomorrow. I think that's why Raffi really needed to say what she needed to say.
We see also at the very end of the finale, Raffi and Seven of Nine having an intimate moment on the starship. What are you excited to dig into more there?
First of all, the thought that I get to work with Jeri Ryan... That will be nice. So first season is spending time with Patrick Stewart, the second with Jeri. I'll take it. But full disclosure, I have no idea what the second season is going to bring about. But that was a really fun moment and I guess I can just say it... It was funny because we were all down at San Diego Comic-Con [in 2019], and we were all hanging out. I think it was Jonathan Del Arco who took a picture of Jeri and I. We were standing together; I was in a white jumpsuit and she was in a red jumpsuit and we gave each other a hug, and he took a picture. You know those pictures where the lighting is good and everything works for both people?
It just happened to be that it was a nice shot, and he literally went, "Oh my god. Look at this!" We went over to our producers who happened to be sitting together, Akiva [Goldsman], Alex [Kurtzman] and Michael [Chabon], and I think there might've been Kirsten [Beyer] as well, and Jonathan went "Look at this. Look at this picture." They looked at the picture, they all looked at each other. We saw them in a little hubbub, and then they turned to me and Jeri and they're like, Raffi and Seven of Nine, and we were both like, "Oh my god. Yes!"
It was happenstance that it happened that way. I don't know what will go forward, but I will tell you that what I would love because Star Trek is so good about this kind of stuff. I would love for us to be able to effortlessly introduce, not even introduce, but effortlessly reveal a non-labeling sexuality for everyone. Wouldn't it be lovely? We already know that Raffi has a son, so we know that she's already indulged in the man, but wouldn't it be great if we could somehow really bring that in to these stories, embrace it and not label it, not make it taboo, but empower it? Make it almost fluid. If you think about it, Raffi and Seven, that would be pretty cool. They would totally get along. Raffi would be obsessed with what Seven of Nine does. First of all, male, female, whatever, who wouldn't be ecstatic if Seven of Nine looked their way? So yeah, I'm excited about that.
What would you like to see for your character's journey in the new season?
The second season, I have no idea. I haven't chatted with any writers, but I would be really excited to see how this motley group gets together, or rather how this motley group can continue working together and how we tackle situations because we haven't all fully been together as a unit yet until the last moment, if you think about it. All of us: Seven, Soju, Elnor, all of us... It would be cool, just even one episode, to see if we all really work well together or not well together.
I'd also love to see what happens with Seven and with Raffi. And I'm just curious to see what the next possible steps could happen with Raffi and her son [Gabriel]. One of the things I really was excited about with that story is to stay true to the world of an addict and really understand the ups and downs, and the things that happen. But I wanted to be incredibly respectful to the children of addicts, because there's this concept that when an addict is ready to come home, they're like, "I'm ready, come embrace me." And that's not fair to the children, to the people who have had to suffer during that addiction, and I thought it was really important to tell the son's point of view, that he has the right to say, "No, you're not allowed to be in my family. Maybe at some later date but you don't just pop in 10 years later and say I'm ready for an insta-family." People on Facebook and Twitter have said, "Thank you for telling that story because that's my story. I wasn't ready to have my parent come back after they abandoned us."
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