Aldis Hodge stars as Craft in the Star Trek: Short Treks episode entitled Calypso, which is a thriller and will be debuting tonight at 9pm ET on Space. Hodge has been acting for a long time but is in the midst of a major breakout, so if you aren’t familiar with him, it’s definitely time to get on board with the gregarious actor, painter and time keeper.
We had the chance to sit down with the very gregarious actor and we actually told him of the coincidence that our most recent interview was with Mark O’Brien, who is starring with Hodge in the upcoming series City on a Hill. As we know that Aldis Hodge is a horologist and watch collector, we asked many time related questions as a way of getting at the centre of the Short Treks episode.
The following is a condensed and edited version of our chat with the loqacious Aldis Hodge.
Brief Take: You shot this episode in Toronto, right?
Aldis Hodge: Yes. It’s a beautiful city, man. I’ve been there a few times before. First time I went I was a kid and was like, nine, ten years old. It’s a great city. I feel like it’s a cleaner version of New York and I love New York, like I grew up there, like New York is my spot, but Toronto? Get some love.
BT: What was the atmosphere like on set?
AH: It was actually a very warm set, surprisingly. I mean we have a lot of crew members making those shots. The crew is awesome, so I’m not as alone as it might seem. But our director Olatunde Osunsanmi was wonderful. He made me feel comfortable. And we had an actress reading lines on set, her name is Melanie St. Pierre, she was awesome. It was nice having someone to run lines off of, you know, you need that! It’s intimidating enough going to a setting, and it’s like “oh it’s just me and the Star Trek universe”. [chuckles] I got a lot to live up to, man! It was actually really comfortable being in my space. I grew up with Star Trek. I always told people growing up that my favourite character was Worf. He’s just so cool. I grew up to learn how violent apparently the Klingons are, and I was like “oh, Worf was an exception”. [laughs] That was my guy, man. I used to watch the show, I’ve seen the movies – I’m a fan, man! I’m a fan. So when the opportunity came up, I was like “hell yeah, awesome!”. Star Trek, you know?
BT: What about your interest in time and time keeping?
AH: Well yeah, that is interesting. You know as a horologist, my job is to study time telling, time keeping. We get into astrology and astronomy at certain points, especially when it comes to trying to devise a movement for a perpetual calendar, an annual calendar, so…I’m not going to get nerdy on that one, but you know time-space continuum, black holes, time jumping, space and time, these are all theories that are practical and come up in conversation. I’ve read Einstein’s work, I’ve read Sir Isaac Newton’s work, it’s all relative to my world. So I think it’s awesome. Some of these theories constantly question like “is it actual?” because time, to a degree, is something that isn’t real – it’s a construct. It’s a construct by which we measure our lives and our actions, but time operates differently in space than it does here on Earth. So imagine what the possibilities and capabilities are just getting to the universe is insane.
BT: What was it like to have Michael Chabon write this episode?
AH: The episode that he wrote is incredible. The thing that I love about it is that it flipped my idea of what I was walking into. You think Star Trek, you think one thing, but this episode introduces a different perspective on the Star Trek experience. I think that people are really going to love it because there is an emotional pull there that is fresh. And look, I’ve watched this season, so I know that they’re not afraid to get emotional and go there! [laughs] They do a fantastic job of it. I like what they did with this, he took it to a different level. And I’m really proud of being able to participate in this work in my career. Michael introduced a lot of new things, there’s going to be a lot of questions after this, I think, at least I hope. [laughs] What’s happening, how do we get there, where do we end up? All this stuff. What I really want fans to dig is try to figure out what war am I coming off of. The war was coming off ten years. We gotta figure it out, man. I don’t know who I was fighting with, what I was fighting about, what I was fighting for, but it’s crazy because I know where we left off in Discovery, we’re dealing with the Klingon War, but I don’t know, I want to figure out for myself, personally. Because I got some questions they did not answer for me on purpose.
BT: To what degree do you think that we are shaping the future?
AH: We’re always shaping the future at any point in any given time, whether we know it or not. The future that we are thinking about, we’re already living in. Think about where cell phones were ten or fifteen years ago. Now kids grow up with iPads like it’s normal. You know, back in the day, you couldn’t even fathom that. You’ve got two-year-olds working iPads like no one’s business. [laughs] It won’t be too far off before some of the advancements in the Star Trek universe will be happening in real life, honestly. If Elon Musk keeps going at his pace, I’m pretty there will be some civilian characters that will have the cars in the next 30 to 50 years, I don’t think it’s really too far off. But we’re always shaping what is happening in the culture, we just have to be aware of that in order to be aware of how we shape it. And activity versus inactivity and awareness versus a lack of awareness determines a lot of your activity in life.
BT: Let’s talk about your year to come. You have a lot going on!
AH: What Men Want comes out February 8th, 2019, and it stars Taraji P. Henson, Tracy Morgan, myself, Wendi McLendon-Covey, so of course that’s a play on What Women Want. What Men Want is actually a different perspective of a woman who has the power to get into a man’s head and get into her thoughts. She’s trying to survive in a man’s world. So it’s fun, it’s awesome. I’m actually going to preview it on Tuesday so fingers crossed. I think that it’s going to be great. Adam Shankman, our director, was insane. I love his work and he’s great to work with. Outside of that, I have a film called Brian Banks, for which we are looking to set a date in. But hopefully that comes out early first quarter next year as well. It’s a true-life biopic about my buddy Brian Banks who was convicted of a sexual assault that he did not commit, and eventually managed to exonerate himself after five years in jail, five years of probation and being a registered sex offender. He cleared his name, and his dreams of the NFL were stolen, actually, but then they were actually achieved and he managed to end up playing in the NFL after all of this. The most important thing is that he beat the system, because he is an innocent man and knows that he’s innocent. And he did the work – to challenge the justice system and he won. Outside of that, City on a Hill, starring myself…as you said, Mark O’Brien, of course, the great Kevin Bacon, Jonathan Tucker, and these producers, the new guys in the game, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. [laughs] And Jennifer Todd, she’s the stuff. You know, we have a great team for that. It starts shooting with Showtime next January, so we might debut in the fall, hopefully. It’s set in Boston in the early nineties, I’m the D.A., Kevin Bacon is the crooked FBI guy, and we’re trying to figure out how to come together at the same time to beat down crime. It’s morally challenging in many ways, but yeah, it’s a good year. I have another film in the can called Clemency, starring Alfre Woodard, and we’re looking for a release date for that, hopefully mid-year next year. I’m looking forward to that as well. So it should be an active year. [laughs] And Star Trek, to put the cherry on top, on Thursday, November 8th.
BT: What’s your constant?
AH: That I have to have with me all the time? I’m in a place where I am trying to maintain peace. Happiness is a constant conditional so I don’t put the weight on that, so whatever job that I do to maintain peace, I want to experience peace and I also want to project peace. If I lead with that, then they will say that I made the environment better to work in. Case in point, working on Star Trek everyone’s spirits were great, it was a real team effort, it was awesome, so where me as I’ve carried myself in my 30 year career, it’s always about the reputation that you leave behind for the experience you leave people. For me, that’s the only conscious choice I can make or sense of control I can have in my life going forward. I want to figure out how to maintain that peace and share that.
Star Trek: Short Treks “Calypso” airs tonight at 9pm ET on Space and streams tomorrow at 9pm ET on CraveTV