An interview with Janet Kidder on Osyraa and why Star Trek is different

Janet Kidder as Osyraa
Janet Kidder as Osyraa

It was more than the green which made Osyraa such a compelling character. While the makeup, costume, and hair were excellent, Osyraa was created both by the writers of Discovery and actor Janet Kidder, who brought the Emerald Chain’s villainous leader to life.

From the very moment she walked onto the screen, Osyraa could not be ignored. Her appearances on Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery made for the most interesting and exciting episodes. Many were sad to learn Osyraa’s fate.

Kidder is a veteran actor who is not new to the science fiction genre. She appeared in Amazon’s Man In The High Castle, on CW’s Arrow, and in many other starring roles. You may have seen her in the Bride of Chucky or the recent holiday film, Operation Christmas Drop. Canadian fans know her as Cpl. Marina Del Luzio in the drama series Tom Stone

There was something about the role of Osyraa that was different for Kidder than all those other parts. It was the weight of Star Trek, which she didn’t quite understand until that first day on the set. Luckily for her, a familiar face came to see her before shooting started on Episode 8, “The Sanctuary.”

Jonathan Frakes and Kidder share a moment on set during the filming of “The Sanctuary.” Courtesy of CBS
Jonathan Frakes and Kidder share a moment on set during the filming of “The Sanctuary.” Courtesy of CBS

“Jonathan [Frakes] welcomed me warmly to the family and said how excited he was to work with me on this role,” says Kidder. Frakes served both as the director of the episode and the welcomer-in-chief to the tight-knit Star Trek actors’ fraternity. 

“We shared ideas, and I realized how privileged I was to be embarking on this journey with him and the rest of the family,” says Kidder. 

“From our very first conversation, Jonathan’s passion for the Star Trek world began to rub off on me,” says Kidder. “As a novice whose knowledge of the genre was limited to The Original Series with Captain Kirk, it was suddenly clear that the magic of this universe was quite real.”

Their conversation must have helped Kidder find her footing in Trek because Osyraa was a wonderful, late-season addition to the story. While she was an oppositional character, Kidder says that she felt a real motivation behind Osyraa’s actions. She wasn’t just an evil person who liked to be mean to others.  

That being said, Kidder admits that outside of the four hours of makeup each morning, the role was a lot of fun.

“I have to say that playing the bad guy is an absolute gem of an opportunity,” says Kidder. 

“To be able to live outside the codes and restrictions of our daily, ‘good’ person ethics is such a treat,” she says. “I believe we all have many aspects of our personalities — or souls if you like — that we never tap into during our normal lives, and so to be able to ignite the darkest kept sides of ourselves is an incredibly cathartic experience.”

Unfortunately, the ‘treat’ came to an end when Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) shot Osyraa two or three times in the Discovery’s data core. 

However, one must wonder the deaths of the previous season’s bad guys were much more dramatic — and gruesome. Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs) fell into a pulsating ball of energy in space. Leland (Alan van Sprang) died when an evil artificial intelligence took over his body. 

Kidder is no stranger to the genre of science fiction. She appeared on Amazon's Man In The High Castle, which streamed from 2015-19. Courtesy of Amazon
Kidder is no stranger to the genre of science fiction. She appeared on Amazon’s Man In The High Castle, which streamed from 2015-19. Courtesy of Amazon

Could there be a chance that Osyraa may have survived those shots? 

“Well, who knows?” says Kidder. “Such a terrifying foe, one could imagine all sorts of possibilities, and believe me, I have.” 

“I could happily play Osyraa for as long as they let me,” says Kidder. 

Perhaps fans will get to see more of Kidder as Osyraa in future episodes. After all, haven’t we seen Commander Ellen Landry (Rekha Sharma) die three times? Osyraa might also have more lives than just one.

While the death of Osyraa is official for now, Kidder says she will never forget this experience and feels that it was different than just about any other role she’s performed.

“The difference with Star Trek is that this is not just a show, it’s part of an entire, impeccably crafted universe,” says Kidder. 

“The history alone gives it such validity as a franchise, and I can honestly say that I have never been on such a welcoming, enthusiastic, and dedicated set.”

“Cast, crew, directors, producers, everybody involved is thrilled to be there. The energy is palpable and just infuses you with something magical,” says Kidder. “[It was] a truly amazing experience that I will never forget.”

Janet Kidder will be a part of upcoming in-person and digital Star Trek fan events created by the great folks at Coolwaters Productions. Be sure to follow Coolwaters Productions on social media for the latest announcements on their upcoming events.