Many Black Mirror fans are anxiously waiting for Season 4. But some details have already been released, including the news that there will be a Star Trek-themed episode called “USS Callister.” You’d probably think this would make a lot of actors try to snatch up roles, but there was one star in the episode who actually almost turned his part — and for a surprising reason.
The Cheat Sheet talked to producers Charlie Brooker, Annabel Jones, along with stars Jesse Plemons and Cristin Milioti, about the mysterious episode at New York’s PaleyFest. Here are eight things we learned from them.
1. Jesse Plemons almost turned down his role
Q: You have worked before with Cristin [Milioti] on Fargo but you only had one scene. What was it like working together more in this episode?
Jesse Plemons: Well, we had a very interesting dynamic in this. I was definitely somewhat creepy with her, so you know, we were friends before, and then it felt like I sort of had to take a break and just hope that she’ll forgive me for creeping her out for a month while we were shooting. But I love Cristin, she’s great and really funny.
Q: Were you particularly excited by your episode referencing Star Trek or were you interested in Black Mirror for another reason?
Plemons: When I first read the script, it was before I had seen any of the show. I was just so confused. I’m like ‘What is this? Just a knock-off Star Trek thing? This is not for me!’
And then I got to the second scene and realized what it was and was immediately really excited about it. And then watched the first and second season in a matter of a couple of weeks and totally got it, and yeah, I’ve just never done anything quite like this, so that’s always exciting.
2. The episode is all about the persona people create online
Q: It seems like a lot of actors from other mediums jump onto this [show] because it’s more like a movie format. So yours took a month to shoot the episode?
Plemons: Something like that.
Q: Every episode seems to say something about technology. What do you think the message is in your episode?
Plemons: Well, what drew me to the character was this idea that everyone has an actual self and kind of a fantasy self that they kind of try and keep hidden and at bay. And most of the times, that fantasy-self comes out online. In the comment section or whatever, and I just found that really interesting to play with.
3. Cristin Milioti reveals more about her ‘underestimated’ character
Q: You said your character is easy to underestimate. What is it about her that is so disarming?
Cristin Milioti: I think it’s like a sort of still waters run deep, a little bit. Like, I think she just seems sort of happy to be where she is and sort of a little reserved, but like she’s capable. She learns that she’s like capable of some pretty great stuff.
Q: The episode seems to be Star Trek-themed. Was that something that was a plus for you? Are you a Star Trek fan or was it just another great episode?
Milioti: I mean, if I can get real real, of course, I was thrilled by the Star Trek element, but I was just sort of thrilled that they wrote like really bada** women in the episode. Yeah, that was my experience. I was more excited for that, but I was also so excited to be on a spaceship because not a lot of people knock on my door to be like ‘Would you want to go to space?’ That doesn’t happen, so I loved it.
4. Milioti talks about working with Plemons again
Q: Do you think you would want to do some more sci-fi projects then later on?
Q: You’ve worked with Jesse [Plemons] on Fargo, so what was it like working with him on this different kind of show?
Milioti: It was great because I actually shared scenes with him. On Fargo, I think we have one scene together and maybe like one tiny exchange, and so to be able to actually work with him was so great.
5. Milioti felt a lot of pressure joining Black Mirror
Q: The show, of course, always talks about technology and the dark sides of it. Can you give a little hint as to what specifically about technology is shown in your episode?
Cristin Milioti: I think, like, the danger of creating an alternate reality for yourself.
Q: The show is coming back after such a successful season, winning a huge Emmy. Did that have any pressure on you joining in?
Cristin Milioti: Like, am I afraid I’ll be bad? Yes! [laughs] That’s why it’s amazing. That’s why it’s so scary to me as an actor. It’s so beautifully written that you don’t wanna fail that.
6. Black Mirror producers say Season 4 is more ambitious
Q: Is there any overall inspiration you chose to go into this new season?
Charlie Brooker: Not really, just blind terror of having to get it done. The prime motivator, it’s just panic and fear. No, we definitely wanted it to be more ambitious and again to be tackling different tones and almost genres that we haven’t before.
Annabel Jones: I think it’s that. We just wanted to make sure that this season brings something different and that they’re fresh and interesting ideas and things we haven’t tackled before. So, I think we were able to feel that there’s something new that we’re bringing. I think that’s why we tend to keep to one to six episodes rather than 12. because I think it’d be very hard to keep it feeling fresh and interesting.
Brooker: Plus, we’re really lazy.
7. This season will tackle new genres
Q: What would yousay is the fresh thing you brought into this new season?
Jones: The new things are new genres and the scale, probably. I think the biggest thing that’s ever filmed, in terms of the scale, is the one we’re showing tonight.
Brooker: In terms of tone, we got probably the most this season– we got stories that are more playful than what we’ve done before. Also, stories that are nastier, so hopefully we got the extremes in there.
8. Brooker has a message for those who think Black Mirror is too heavy
Q: Did you feel any pressure to do something more playful? Because a lot of people, when they describe Black Mirror — it’s like at the end, you kind of need a break because it’s emotional.
Brooker: Oh well, they need to toughen up, those people! Come on, have you seen the real world? Black Mirror is like a flippin’ holiday compared to that!
Jones: I think Charlie’s very conscious of not wanting the show to be predictable in terms of its tone. And so, amongst the six, there are some that are slightly more emotional episodes, some that end on a slightly upbeat note. So there’s a lot of variety.
Q: I feel like the show, because it seems so futuristic, has avoided referencing pop culture, but an upcoming episode seems to be a reference to Star Trek. Why did you decide to go with Star Trek?
Brooker: Well, it certainly looks like it has an epic space feel to it, but more will be revealed when you see the actual story itself.
Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice.
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