I was incredibly luckily to spend some time chatting with Noah Averbach-Katz, known to many as Ryn the Andorian in Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery. Noah is also a huge Trekkie, Dungeon Master, Nerd and husband to the equally amazing Mary Wiseman.
This was my chance to learn a bit more about the man behind the antenna stumps.
I know that you’re a fellow Trekkie and that you like DnD, what else geeks you out?
What else geeks me out? Let me think….there’s not too much outside of Trek. DnD really gets my motor running at the moment. I’ll occasionally get deep into a video game and Mary will get into the game, so I feel like video games are the third level although what’s funny is many of the games I play are title based strategy games like DnD or space exploration combat games like Dying Sun or something like that.
Do you ever play Risk?
I’ve played Risk before but I don’t play a lot of board games, mainly because I haven’t been around too many people who play them and if I’m gonna play a board game I might just as well roll out the map and get my D20 out.
How did you get into Trek?
Basically my mom was really into Star Trek and she raised me on it. I came of age mid-season Voyager and TNG reruns that were on TV pre-streaming so that’s what I grew up watching. Then she would take me and throw a friend in the car and take us to a convention, like those smaller conventions in a hotel basement or something like that.
Once Enterprise came around that was the first series I got to watch live and so she would get my friends over and watch it every Wednesday on a school night and she would make a quiz at the end of the show. The person who got the most questions right would win a little Star Trek prize. She was training us from an early age to pick up on all the details like the ship names and the aliens. We had to watch it real closely.
Do you collect anything in particular or are you not much of a collector?
I don’t collect too much because I feel like…. Mary lives on Discovery so when she comes home she is like “I can’t be on Discovery still”. Also I feel that once I start it will be very difficult to stop. I did get into hats for a while and had maybe 4 or 5 different hats but I have small things that I’ll keep around like I have a bottle opener I got in 2012 in Chicago and I had a model of Discovery for a while that someone gave Mary and I was like “Wow!”.
Back home in California at my parents’ house there are boxes of stuff like TV Guides, magazines and autographs. Up through the house, pretty much in every room, you can find one little Star Trek thing, like a communicator, a book or an action figure. Something like that.
That all sounds very cool! Do you have a favourite piece in the collection?
My favourite piece? Well I have a couple of favourites. I have a hat, it’s the DS9 “Niners” hat and an offshoot hat that just has Worf’s quote “Death to the opposition!” on it. Then back home we have a limited edition Enterprise-D but its golden and it adorns our bookshelf and that’s the biggest piece my dad will allow to have put in the house and it holds a very special space in my heart.
When you finished Discovery did you sneak anything off the set as a keepsake? Ryn’s antennae stumps maybe?
I didn’t wait to finish before I was sneaking things out.
Oh really! (Laughing)
Yes! (Laughing). The first episode I did, ‘Scavengers’, we were on this salvage planet filled with all this stuff. It was crazy what they did, they had baskets filled with really specific stuff but the camera never saw it. I ah “re-homed” some communicator badges that were all distressed as it’s almost 1000 in the future. I think they were DS9 era combadges. I kept one for myself, I sent one to my mom which is framed and on the wall. I was looking through my stuff and I still have a cut-out of the front of my head head so yeah I took a bit of my skin with me too.
Was that the scene where we see lots of old-style phasers and tricorders as well in different baskets?
Yes, there weren’t as many phasers and tricorders around. Just enough for the actors to pick up. In the rest of the baskets was stuff from mostly 2002 onwards like Guitar Hero, remote control TVs and DVD players. It was a really, really funny basket of old electronic stuff and it was funny to think that all that stuff was supposed to have survived 2000 years into the future.
You and Mary get the chance to attend a con in disguise and blend in with the attendees. Who would you both cosplay as?
There’s no chance Mary is blending in any way. I just think that’s impossible.
I have a great chance to blend in as I was in a mask, I can go as myself. If I was going to cosplay somebody it might be fun to do a bearded Riker, I feel like I could pull that off. I don’t think I would do any make-up as I’ve done that in real-life so I’d probably go as Riker or maybe even Data as I could deal with that makeup and some contacts but probably I’d just go as Riker. My dad could go as Riker too so we could be like young Riker and old Riker.
That would be pretty cool.
Yeh it would.
Do you have a favourite scene that you filmed on Discovery?
It’s hard to say as I felt that every time I was there I would feel that it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. In my mind I was checking things off- I get to do this, I get to be on the bridge, I get to get shot by a phaser, I get to be beamed up. Each one was special in its own way because I was getting to do a real Star Trek thing which was just so awesome.
My favourite scenes were definitely the ones I got to do with Mary. It was really cool just to be able to do that with her. I had a good time on Book’s ship with Emily but Grudge was extremely difficult so that maybe that wasn’t my favourite. Actually it may have been the second day of shooting when we showed up at this aluminum factory and there were all these explosions and they just said “Run. Run as fast as you can and don’t blow up!” It felt like I didn’t have to pretend. I was running for my life, trying not to fall, trying not to get plastic melted to my face. I was immediately in it.
It was fun to work with David and forging a bond with him.
(Mary in background “And me!”) I already said you darling!
I think that might have been one of my favourite ones on top of everything else.
Was there a sense of awe when you first went on set?
I’d been on the set so many times before but up until the point I joined the cast I would go on every chance I got. Its mind blowing how big the sets are and how intricate they are. The main hull of Discovery is on a sound stage that’s like an airplane hangar so you can walk through the ship and see all the different rooms like the mess hall, the transporter room and engineering sections that I don’t even know if it’s showed up on the show yet. Multiple times I’ve gotten lost in the ship.
You’re the third or fourth person that’s told me that.
Yeah it’s no joke. It really is incredible and so fun but also getting to see all the fine details like small things that have Discovery’s logo on and no one will ever see it on screen but if they do they’ll be amazed by the detail. It’s just really, really fun.
Have you attended any cons yet as a guest?
Not yet. I have one scheduled in August in Vegas which I’m really looking forward to and I can’t wait. It’s gonna be so cool to be on the other side of the table.
Have you had any memorable fan encounters either online or in person?
It’s all been over the internet. Not so much one to ones, but everyone has been so kind, the new fans, the die-hard fans, the others on the show. Plus all the amazing gifts I’ve received, fan-art, DnD stuff I’ve been really blown away by the whole experience. I feel so grateful and it’s been so much fun.
I think it’s well deserved. Your character was so lovable and the way you interact with the fans is brilliant.
Well, I feel more like a fan than an actor. A fan that’s been let on to the show rather than an actor who became a fan.
I’ve asked a couple of your fellow cast members this question and would like to hear your answer. Who is the biggest prankster on set and can you remember any particular pranks?
I don’t know. I don’t have an answer for this as I wasn’t on set with everyone long enough to work out who might be a prankster. Now if I were to guess who other people may have said I guess I’d say Jonathan (Frakes). I guess they would also say Jason when he was around. I don’t know, what did other people say, I’m curious?
Well I asked Ronnie, Doug and Sara this same question and they all said Mary.
Oh my haha!
Doug said he couldn’t prove it but he thinks Mary was responsible for tying his shoes together.
That 100% sounds like her. I can’t defend her and her actions. It sounds like her. Wow, that’s really funny! No wonder I couldn’t think of anybody. I’d never think my darling wife could be a prankster! That’s really funny. I cannot confirm or deny Mary and her prank abilities.
We’ll leave it at that then!
Yeah, probably best!!
If you could appear on any other Trek show past or present which one would you choose?
Hmm. My actor inclination would say Deep Space Nine just because I love the atmosphere of the show. The range for anything to happen, there’s the silly, fun, goofy episodes like ‘Take me out to the Holosuite’. Episodes that are outside of battle or combat and then there’s the Dominion War so I feel that in terms of the range of personalities allowed on that show is wide. There is so much room for different types of characters that that would be a fun show and world to be in.
Have you seen Lower Decks and have you enjoyed it?
I like it a lot. It’s fun and exciting and the actors on that show do an amazing job. I do think they do a good job balancing the goofiness with the serious storylines, similar to how DS9 does and I have a great affinity for that space station.
You can tell that the people writing both shows are actual fans and that helps a lot.
What do you see as the main message that Star Trek in general tries to promote?
Interesting. There are obviously the main themes of diversity and inclusion but I also see it as the idea that those things that people strive for are not a given. They have to be won and challenged. They are in a constant state of doing. So I feel like the message is to not wait around for the future for the problems to be solved, but the message is the work of creating that world starts now. And it starts with you.
The focus of the show is about character growth. It’s not about the Federation versus the Klingon Empire. That sort of development is personal, it’s interconnected. It’s your small community making a difference on a bigger scale. It’s not that you have to be the leader of the Dominion to do battle with this or that it, really is you and your community working together, being kind to each other and encouraging growth together and that will have such a huge ripple effect.
That’s an awesome answer, it’s very Gene Roddenberry like!
What do you think a Mirror Universe version of Ryn would be like?
A mirror universe or THE Mirror Universe?
THE Mirror Universe!
Well honestly I think he would have probably gotten blown up by Georgiou, Queen of Andor. But if not, in the Mirror Universe he’s probably very manipulative, conniving and has wormed his way into good favour, sacrificing all morals and platitudes. He’s probably not a very good dude but he’s probably a very powerful dude. That would be fun to explore, I’d be up for that.
He’s surviving in his own way.
Last question then! What would be your dream role to play, either on stage or screen?
I don’t really have a dream role. I feel like getting to be on Star Trek was such a huge dream that it was like this moment of WOW!
What was really good about my time is that it was short and sweet. I never overstayed my welcome and thought that I’m ready to move on and that it’s not as much fun as I thought it would be. In the short time that I had, I got to work with so many amazing people and different situations, getting to work with Jonathan twice. It really was such a confluence of all these amazing things happening at once.
In a lot of ways it’s all downhill from here. That’s the truth, everything’s a downgrade from here!
Thank you so much for doing this Noah.
Of course John and thank you for your help with the Insulin badges. Covid has slowed everything down but it will be going live soon.
Thanks once again to Noah for agreeing to talk to me for my little blog. Keep your eyes open for his upcoming fundraiser #Insulin4All