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Prodigy’s Angus Imrie Discusses Zero’s Borg Encounter (Exclusive)

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The latest episode of Star Trek: Prodigy¬†brought back the Borg, one of Star Trek’s most feared alien species. “Let Sleeping Borg Lie” included a particularly close encounter between the Borg and Zero, the Protostar crew’s Medusan crewmember. Zero is still reeling from the damage they accidentally did to Gwynn’s memory in the last episode to debut before the show’s midseason break. While at first taken in by the comfort of the Borg hivemind, similar to the Medusan hivemind they come from, they soon regained their sense of individuality and resisted the Borg long enough to save their chosen “collective” aboard the Protostar. had the opportunity to speak with actor Angus Imrie, who voices Zero, about the episode. Here’s our conversation:

(Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

What was your first reaction when you saw that this was going to be an episode involving the Borg? Were you familiar enough with Star Trek that that was exciting or unnerving, or are you still relatively new to all this?

Angus Imrie: Well, I’m relatively new, truthfully. I mean, of course, I knew of the Borg, but in a funny sort of way, it’s quite nice to come at it without its reputation preceding it too much, to the extent that it becomes intimidating. And so it became a thrill, and it’s a fantastic moment for Zero, because they came from a hivemind, and so it’s an opportunity for Zero to use their specific skills to get the crew out of a particular hole. And Zero shows real bravery, so it was engaging because I thought it was a particular connection to Zero to encounter the Borg. It was fantastic.

Can you talk a bit about where Zero is mentally when this episode begins? Because it’s clear they are still dealing with the trauma of what happened right before the midseason break, and that’s a heavy thing to deal with in what is ostensibly a show for children on Nickelodeon.

Yeah, massive. Zero starts the entirety of Season 1, when we first encounter the character, they’ve been used as a weapon by the Diviner, when they’re on Tars Lamora because anyone who sees a Medusan with the naked eye goes mad. And for Zero, you learn, as you get to know them over the course of the first season, this is the worst thing imaginable, to be used as a weapon. They hold onto this throughout, up until Episode 10. Episode 10 is when the tables turn, and Zero has the opportunity to finally seek vengeance or retribution for what happened to them and exposes themselves to the Diviner, and it’s this great historic or heroic moment for them.

But the fact that again, they hurt Gwyn as a result of it, pains Zero hugely. So I think when we meet Zero again in this next batch of episodes, after the mid-season break, you meet a character who is feeling the pain of having caused one of their best friends hurt and wants to try and make amends as best as possible.

There’s a line in the middle of the episode that has a real vulnerability to it. It comes when Zero enters the Borg hivemind and is shocked that the Borg aren’t driven insane or even taken aback by their appearance, which feels like a side of Zero we haven’t previously seen. Can you talk a bit about what you were looking to do with your performance there, and what that line meant for you and the character?

Well, that’s a totally new experience for Zero, and probably, they haven’t experienced anything like it since being part of a hivemind of Medusans themselves. So they’ve got used to being in that containment suit and trying to shield themself from the people they love most of all. And suddenly, they find themselves liberated from their containment suit, expecting that as normally happens if they were to expose themselves, that whoever they encounter would go mad, but finally finds themself in this floating environment where they’re free and they’re not driving the Borg mad.

It’s almost as if the Borg lull Zero into a false sense of security or flatters them, almost. Whereas actually, we realize, as the episode goes on, they need to remain on guard and be very, very cautious not to get sucked in.

Is there a particular challenge to playing this character that is formless and in a containment suit? I know some voice actors look at their characters to determine certain things, like, “Oh, they have a big frame. I should lower my register.” You don’t really have that to draw on with Zero, so how did you approach it?

Experimentation, really. Animation is so fantastically collaborative, I’ve found. It’s been a learning experience for me, but what’s wonderful is you try lots of stuff, and you have a vague idea of where you’d like the character to be, and then you see some initial images of the character, and then you see them animated to your lines, and then your performance feedback feeds back to how the animators grow with the character.

It’s this amazingly collaborative approach that you don’t get in other mediums, whereby the animators are influencing the voice actor, and then the voice actor influences the animators, and the story arc, even. So I think it was through a series of experimenting. We knew that I still had the characteristics we wanted to embody with Zero, and I knew that they were non-corporeal and genderless, so there needed to be a sort of neutral. But there’s curiosity; that’s the main thing. Curiosity and a growing emotional depth, and I think, although the voice is there now, I’m continuing to grow with the character, too.

By the end of the episode, we get this statement of Zero having their own collective of sorts in the Protostar crew. There’s talk of resistance not being futile. There’s this moment of growth and maybe closure for Zero. As I mentioned, it’s a kids’ show, and there’s a lot going on there. Do you have thoughts about what younger viewers should learn and take from this episode?

I think such a big part of the message of Star Trek: Prodigy, and probably Star Trek at large, is that you have all these different species living together. And so there’s always a drive for them to find out where they’re really from. Where do they belong? And we discover as they keep going on their adventure how they work it out, but it’s not with their actual species, but it’s with one another, and that’s certainly the journey that Zero goes on. The Borg wants to encapsulate, to suck in Zero into its hive, and Zero has to work incredibly hard to resist it. It’s not easy, by any stretch of the imagination.

But the power of the fact that Zero knows they belong with the Prodigy crew is what brings him back. And it’s Gwyn, in fact, the Gwyn who they so recently hurt, who manages to speak to him, and draws him back out of the Borg and back into the Prodigy crew.

So messages for young people are that it doesn’t matter your creed. What matters is you and the people who share your heart. I think that’s the overall message of it, and not to get sucked into a hivemind mentality. You can be and individual. You can be an individual in your team.

This seems to bring a little closure to the fallout from what happened, and what Zero accidentally did to Gwyn. Can you say anything about what’s next for Zero? Is this still something they’re going to be dealing with, or are they looking at something new, going forward?

I think certainly that will always be a recurring theme, that Zero never wants to hurt anyone again like they were made to by the Diviner. But I feel as if this episode with the Borg is a wonderful moment, where they have demonstrated their loyalty and love of the people around them, and so I think it absolutely makes up for the fact. And no one blames Zero; it’s only his own guilt. So I think it alleviates that for Zero, this episode.

What’s next for Zero is a real journey of personal growth, where it’s no longer about saving other people. Zero gives so much to the others, and they’re constantly thinking about others. But you really see Zero experience new sensations that they have never before, in coming episodes, and they go on quite a trip.

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