Star Trek Fans Sometimes Make Spock Actor Ethan Peck Feel Like A Holy Figure

There's meeting your favorite celebrity, and then there's meeting Spock. Though we all understand on some level that actors Leonard Nimoy, Zachary Quinto, and Ethan Peck aren't actually the beloved pointy-eared first officer "Star Trek" fans know and love, well, humans aren't really that logical, are we?

"Star Trek" has a long history of inspiring passionate fan reactions, and Peck, who plays the half-Vulcan, half-human fan-favorite character in "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" is certainly getting a taste of them. In a cover story for Variety about the future of the Paramount-owned franchise, Peck spoke about what it's been like adjusting to playing Spock and described fan encounters as a sort of ritualistic experience. "When I'm meeting fans, sometimes they're coming to be confirmed, like I'm kind of a priest," the actor told a reporter while in the middle of filming season 3 of the excellent Paramount+ prequel series.

'They want confirmation of some sort -- to be seen by this character'

Peck, who first took over the role of Spock for a guest stint on "Star Trek: Discovery," elaborated on this phenomenon — sans the religious language — in an interview with Esquire in 2022. "People come to me at these conventions, and it's almost like they want confirmation of some sort — to be seen by this character and this universe," Peck said, noting that fans from marginalized communities can find a sense of togetherness through the fandom. "They're not there to see Ethan," he continued. "They're there to see Spock, and I just happen to be a representative of this character at this one point in time."

With this fuller context in mind, it makes sense that Peck would compare himself to a religious figure whose job is to try to share the spirit of something far larger than himself — in this case, Gene Roddenberry's legendary, enduringly optimistic vision of humanity. "These people are so thrilled and excited and moved by the world that we are a part of as actors, and they come with such vulnerability — that's very special and unique," he told Esquire. As intense as I can imagine it would be to have "Star Trek" fans constantly appearing before you to share a special moment, Peck had at least one magnified version of that experience: he went on a "Star Trek" cruise.

A job that never gets less surreal

"It's everything I've just described, but hyper-condensed and intensified, because you're on this floating skyscraper," Peck told Esquire, explaining that he would hear fans call his name whenever he left his bedroom aboard the ship. Peck seems to have gotten into the swing of things when it comes to facing fans and taking on the pressure that comes with the role, but it doesn't make taking on such an immense role less surreal. "I remember being on the playground in second or third grade and doing the Vulcan salute, not really knowing where it came from," he told Variety. "When I thought of 'Star Trek,' I thought of Spock. And now I'm him. It's crazy."

Peck's Spock will return in the third season of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds," which is due out next year. Details about the plot of season 3 are sparse so far, but the Variety piece also revealed that it features a new science lab set and will include a Hollywood-style murder mystery episode directed by William Riker himself, Jonathan Frakes (Frakes also directed season 2's "Lower Decks" crossover, "These Old Scientists"). The 10-episode third season features a directorial slate that also reportedly includes returning directors Jordan Canning and Valerie Weiss. The series will stream on Paramount+ in 2025, but the season 3 premiere does not yet have a release date.