Warp Factor Trek

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Model-turned-extra David Jones appeared as a background actor in “Under the Cloak of War”, the eighth episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ second season. What inspired this fledgling actor to change career track, and how was his experience of appearing in SNW? As he explains during our interview, he may have even played multiple characters in the same episode, an acting assignment that certainly held special significance for him.

Genesis

David Jones is a lifelong Trekkie. “My earliest memories of Star Trek would be back when I was eight, watching TNG with my grandparents and mom, and my grandma — being a sower — made me a handmade Data Star Trek outfit for Halloween,” he recalls. “Probably sci-fi being my favorite, I’ve grown up watching Star Wars and Trek, among others. Star Wars is definitely my other favorite sci-fi franchise. I want to one day work on something SW-related, as a stormtrooper, Jedi, etc.

David as a boy with family members in the mid-’90s, wearing the handmade Data costume his grandmother made him

Jones worked as a model in his home country of Canada for nine years, off and on. “Modeling was fun,” he reminisces. “It got me out of my comfort zone initially and let me become creative and made me more comfortable in front of the camera and more ready for what was to come.

As part of his modelling career, Jones worked for such companies as Motorola and Samsung. “Working for them was a lot of fun and gave me lots of expertise in that field and product knowledge. Many of the gadgets we have today came from Trek ideas; hopefully we will see more come as technology advances.” Asked if there are any examples of Trek tech he’d like to see in reality, Jones says, “Medical tech like dermal regenerators. Warp drive someday, so we can find out if we really are alone or not… hopefully for a better future for our race.

A few of his friends encouraged Jones to begin performing. “They said I should because of the modeling I did and that I should take it to the film industry,” he explains. “It took a few years of pushing to get me to finally do it. And now, I definitely prefer acting, with more opportunities to become, hopefully, ‘the next big thing.’” As for skills he has learned from modelling and applied to acting, Jones lists, “Taking direction easier, how to be more natural, which I still mess up from time to time,” he laughs, “and learning how to not look at the camera when filming. That is a huge one. Never make eye contact with the camera. Many inexperienced actors do that a lot. It gets easier the more you keep doing it.

SNW’s Gambit

Before being cast in the show’s second season, Jones enjoyed watching the start of Strange New Worlds. “Oh yeah, that first episode was a great intro to the series,” he enthuses. “When we were filming ‘Under the Cloak of War’,  the episode where M’Benga put his daughter in the transporter just aired.

Jones’ two favourite episodes of SNW come from each of the show’s first two seasons: “A Quality of Mercy”, from Season 1, and “Under the Cloak of War”. Laughing, he adds, “Personal bias aside.” Jones then elaborates, “‘A Quality of Mercy’ proved how you can take one of the best Trek episodes ever and remake it properly and arguably make it just as good as the original was. And ‘Under the Cloak of War’ because it was the episode I finally got to work on Star Trek and it was just so well written, directed, and acted.

Jones is fairly certain about who his favourite main character is in Strange New Worlds. “Has to be Captain Pike,” he comments. “Anson Mount has taken on an iconic role who someone else already played in the past and has made it his own.

SNW Appearance

The role Jones played in “Under the Cloak of War” is a relatively small part of the episode. “Unfortunately, my character does not have a name that I am aware of,” he clarifies. “It will go down as an uncredited role, but I am perfectly content with that.

Jones in his first shot from “Under the Cloak of War”

The first shot of Jones in the episode is when his character is viewable by M’Benga and Chapel. He is preparing to participate in a raid as a member of an armed Starfleet tactical team which is being deployed to assassinate Klingons on J’Gal. However, the second shot including Jones, despite being part of the same scene, strangely shows him entering that preparation area. When asked if he thinks the editing suggests he may have actually played twins, he laughs, “I’m not sure if I was a twin. It’s Star Trek, so anything is possible!

His third and final shot in the episode, from a later scene, shows his character beaming back to the Starfleet base on J’Gal, along with other survivors. Jones doesn’t seem very keen on transporters, though. “I’d rather fly some shuttles,” he laughs.

Jones in his beaming scene

Playing the Part

David Jones didn’t audition for his scenes in “Under the Cloak of War”. Originally, he received a casting call from his agent, who told him that the SNW casting department were looking for someone to play an Orion and had in mind an ideal size of the person to fill that role. “My other job had issues with availability, so I had to turn it down,” he says. “I saw the chance for a ‘Wounded Soldier’ later and got to do that role instead.

Before filming commenced in May 2023, COVID added some potential complications. “It was during peak COVID times, so we had a lot of COVID testing we had to do just to get to costume fittings, etc, so I avoided big crowds, because if I caught anything leading up to filming, I would not be allowed to work.

This CBS Canada sign is located in their main building, when you walk through the front doors. Jones explains, “It was so cool seeing this the first time when I had to come here for COVID testing and my costume fitting. I knew then this was really happening. ‘I’m here!’

The costume fittings were emotional for Jones. “When I walked into my fitting, I teared up seeing the patch on my jacket saying ‘USS Enterprise’. Looking back to when my grandma made me a TNG outfit and getting to wear the real thing and it saying ‘USS Enterprise’ was very emotional. She probably would have cried tears of happiness too. ‘He made it!’

Jones’ scenes were all shot in Toronto, on a soundstage with a massive AR wall. “I teared up when I first walked onto that set too. And that AR wall puts off a lot of heat. We were cooking!” he laughs.

Multiple days of filming ensued. “We did about fifteen hours the first day, which is basically an average day on set. I lucked out as others had, like, 5am call times and, because my character needed much in terms of makeup and prosthetics, my call times weren’t until about 9am.

Having filmed his scenes in May 2022, Jones had to wait over a year before the episode finally aired in July 2023, maintaining secrecy all the while. “It was hard keeping a secret that Clint Howard was on set with me, that’s for sure,” Jones admits. “I’ve watched his stuff since Married… with Children and the TOS episode, among others. And I definitely did not chance breaking any NDAs.

The Hereafter

Jones is extremely eager to make a Star Trek reappearance. When asked whether he would return to Trek if it meant he’d have to travel to Los Angeles, he considers, “If I could get recast back on Trek, in a heartbeat, but thankfully the majority of the Trek content now is filmed down the road from me; Strange New Worlds and Discovery is all filmed in Canada. I would have loved to have worked on Picard, though, and that was filmed in California, so I would do it no problem.

Picard Production Designer Dave Blass with Jones

The third season of Strange New Worlds has recently entered production, which may offer more opportunity for Jones to reappear in Trek. Though his hopes of returning to SNW are genuine, he laughs as he says, “I will gladly play a Klingon or Andorian.

Whatever the future holds, Jones is thrilled to have appeared, however briefly, in Star Trek. “Working on Star Trek was special, because it was a franchise I’ve watched since I was a kid, so it meant more than a regular job,” he concludes. “I got to fulfill my childhood dream, which not many can say they have done. It’s not every day a Trek fan since TNG gets to be an actor in Star Trek. It’s something I will never forget.

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