Santiago Cabrera did not grow up a Trekie, but it’s hard to play a character in Star Trek without getting immersed in the lore and developing an appreciation for the world you’re inhabiting. Cabrera, who is back for Star Trek: Picard Season 2, talked to Remezcla about the show, being a Latine in space, and what’s next for his character.
Cabrera, whose role of Cristóbal Rios comes with a Han-Solo-like swagger, gets to have some fun, as he’s not just playing Rios, but his many holograms. Cabrera admits he “loved the reaction” to his many alter egos, especially when he was “swearing in local Chilean,” something he got to do in Season 1.
This actor was particularly interested in keeping his accent, and his culture, and making that a part of the world of Star Trek, even if the show takes place in a distant future where there are no countries anymore. “Throughout Trek you’ve heard so many actors speak in their own accents,” Cabrera told us, and that informed the decision he made with the holograms. Even in the future, the actor would “like to believe those things are preserved in time and that culture will still live on.”
Considering how many characters in sci-fi are made out to be cookie-cutter versions of the same time, it was particularly refreshing to see that Rios and his holograms are who they are not by chance, but by choice.
“Being able to use my own voice for different kind of characters and just make them Latino was something I was very happy to do,” he added. “Especially being a Captain as well, and seeing Latinos in a new light, because we’re so much more.”
And there’s a certain pride in bringing all of that into the expansive world of Star Trek, as well. Rios is now a part of that, and an important one, as well. Cabrera, who had to do his research when he stepped into the role, admitted that what he loved, and what hooked him about the world was the philosophy behind it.
“It’s a reflection of our own reality and of being human,” he told us, adding that he found “Star Trek is at its best when it really talks about what it means to be a human being.” This might not seem like the kind of assessment you’d expect out of a show like this one, but fans of sci-fi will very much agree. Science fiction isn’t about space or about technology, it’s about putting people in new situations in order to examine who they are.
Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard promises to bring us more of that, as the stakes are different because there’s no need for introductions. Audiences have already spent a season with these characters, and know all of them – though of course, not as well as they know the titular Picard. But that’s about to change.
“The advantage of season 2 is that the audience know these characters better, so we hit the ground running,” Cabrera shared, promising that the show would indeed take his character in a direction where audiences would get to not just know more about him, but see different sides of Cristóbal Rios. Which, Jean Luc Picard aside, is one of the things we’re most interested in seeing.
The first two episodes of Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard are available to stream on Paramount Plus+, with new episodes releasing every Thursday.