Ethan Peck Has an Adorable Message for His Passport to Paris-Era Self

Playing Spock in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Ethan Peck knows a little bit about devoted fans—but he tells E! News that the staying power of his 1999 Olsen twins movie remains amazing.

By Natalie Finn Jun 01, 2023 9:00 PMTags
Watch: Ethan Peck Shares What He Loves About Playing Spock

When it comes to his career, Ethan Peck is light years away from his turn as the French-accented Michel in 1999's Passport to Paris.

And yet...there's no escaping the universe in which a certain generation of fans keep him close to their hearts, forever remembering him as the teen heartthrob who shared Mary-Kate Olsen's first onscreen kiss.

"I was 13 when I filmed that movie and it's amazing, the impact it's had," Peck exclusively told E! News ahead of the June 15 premiere of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' second season. "A lot of people that I run into bring it up and I'm so surprised."

It may not be logical by Spock standards, but that's l'amour for you.

In the meantime, the now-37-year-old actor who first played the iconic Vulcan on Star Trek: Discovery before he and co-stars Anson Mount and Rebecca Romijn got their own Paramount+ spin-off, has learned a thing or two about devoted fandoms. 

The Official Ranking of All of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's Movies

Knowing there would be countless people dissecting his every eyebrow-raise long before Strange New Worlds got off the ground, Peck accepted his mission with utmost gravity. He's been heartfelt about wanting to do right by Spock and the actors who previously played him, Leonard Nimoy (the O.G.) and Zachary Quinto (in the 2009-2016 films), while still making this version of the character his own. (And it's a version in more ways than one, as you know the Star Trek galaxy is all about dueling timelines.)

But in addition to being a plum opportunity, playing Spock has been a gift in unexpected ways for Peck.

"He has such integrity, and he's such a stupendous person," the actor explained, "that I have had to take on the responsibility of becoming greater as a person myself. I think I'll always be reaching for the quality of person that Spock is. He's so noble, and he's such a humanist—those are the things that I really love about him and have done my best to internalize myself."

Moreover, he continued, Spock is "this hyper-intelligent being, and yet he approaches problems with childlike innocence and curiosity—and fearlessness, too. I'm really inspired by that."

Marni Grossman/Paramount+

Peck can rest assured that he arrived on set with the qualities of a top-notch first officer already. Paul Wesley—who, NBD, popped up as Capt. James T. Kirk in the finale of Strange New Worlds' first season and reports back in season two—recalled taking a page out of his co-star's book when they shot their first scene together.

"I was a lot more intimidated-slash-overly analytical about our first meeting on-screen," Wesley told E! News, "and Ethan was the chill one."

As this timeline unfolds, Kirk and Spock will be interacting with "increasing curiosity," Peck described, "and a growing respect." Wesley, who's got his own legendary boots to fill, could only agree. "Yeah," he added, "I would go with that as well."

Carol Kane, a newcomer to the cast this season as chief engineer Pelia, told E! that Peck, the first person she met and shot with, was "so welcoming and so generous."

Renewed and Canceled TV Shows 2023 Guide

"That was the just the greatest beginning," said the two-time Emmy winner, whose character is hundreds of years old and boasting the wisdom of the ages but also admittedly a little bored and seeking adventure, "and it set the tone for me."

So the rave reviews are coming from inside the Enterprise as well. 

And since Star Trek's various incarnations love to zip its characters around the final frontier, giving them glimpses of the future that inevitably leave them pondering their next move in the present, which is already their past... well, we had to know what present-day Peck might want to tell his Passport to Paris-era self.

Dualstar Productions

He hadn't thought much about it over the past 24 years, but that Olsen twins movie fandom remains real. "I suppose I would tell him," Peck said, "'You're not going to believe what's going to happen. It's gonna be nuts.'"

And he's not the only star to emerge from that world—scroll on to see all the actors who went straight to video with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen:

Megan Fox

Sure sure sure, Transformers was her breakout movie role, but we'll always remember her as Brianna Wallace, as in the Wallace Department Store Wallaces, the twins' mean-girl foil in 2001's Holiday in the Sun. The shade, the side-eye, the snark…a star was truly born.

Michael Cera

The Superbad star had a small but pivotal role in 1999's Switching Goals, playing a spoiled kid named Taylor who was offended when the shoes salesman deigned to ask if he wanted Velcro straps for his cleats. "Maybe you should just fit me for a pair of polyester sweats while you're at it." Hey, he did have a very delicate bone structure!

Jared Padalecki

The Gilmore Girls fan-favorite ditched small-town living in Stars Hollow for a trip to the big city in 2004's New York Minute. Padalecki played Mary-Kate's love interest Trey, the son of a senator, naturally. 

Ethan Peck

Let's hear it for the accent work displayed by Peck—the grandson of legendary actor Gregory Peck—in 1999's Passport to Paris, which was a big freakin' deal because it featured the twins' first onscreen kisses. Sure, they were more, like, uh, pecks, but that was fitting as Peck was a then 13-year-old MK's first.

"I had no awareness for celebrity and what it would mean to be a young celebrity's first on-screen kiss," the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds actor said in a 2016 interview with Uproxx. "I remember being very nervous and I think they were too but we were all in it together."

Peck played Michel, a French flower delivery boy who had dreams of being a musician, but his dad's hopes that he would follow in his footsteps and become a butcher were harshing his mellow. Meaty stuff for the then-13-year-old's first big role. 

Elizabeth Olsen

Never forget that Elizabeth, who is one of the biggest stars in the Marvel Cinematic Universe right now thanks to Disney+'s WandaVision, was the subject of the iconic "B-U-T-T Out" song from The Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley: The Case of the Thorn Mansion. Iconic little sister moment.

Troian Bellisario

The Pretty Little Liars star landed her small role in Billboard Dad because she was IRL besties with the Full House stars. Talk about living every millennial woman's childhood dream. 

"When I was 5-years-old, my best friends were Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen because we lived across the street from each other," she told Seventeen in 2011. "I just knew them as the girls across the street. And I remember the first time I was playing with them and something happened and I realized these aren't normal kids. They're treated differently."

Jason Clarke

Known for his dramatic work in critically acclaimed films such as Zero Dark Thirty, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and First Man, Clarke's time as a thespian began with his role in 2000's Our Lips Are Sealed. While his character Mac was initially a villain, he comes a friend to the girls after they give him relationship advice. Also, random observation: The movie was set in Australia, yet the Australian actor used an American accent. 

Willie Garson

Sometimes, we like to think Garson's turn as FBI agent Norm in Our Lips Are Sealed is actually the reason Stanford Blatch was MIA from episodes of Sex and the City, with Carrie's BFF secretly living a double life. 

Tom Amandes

The Everwood actor was "cool to the Max" when he played the sisters' eligible bachelor of a father in 1998's Billboard Dad

Eric McCormack

Speaking of hot dads, the Will & Grace star played Mary Kate and Ashley's father in Double, Double Toil and Trouble, their classic 1993 Halloween movie.

Austin Nichols

"Everyone's got a hobby, right? You're mine."

Griffen Grayson, The Walking Dead and One Tree Hill star's alliteration-loving character in Holiday in the Sun, was living easy, breezy in the friend zone with Mary-Kate's Madison until she discovered he was coaching the hot guy she was casually seeing, via head-pieces, cue cards, etc. Only after their ruse was discovered did he finally reveal his years-long obsession with her. Not weird at all! 

Theo Rossi

Before he was running with a biker gang on FX's gritty series Sons of Anarchy, Rossi was competing alongside the twins in their final straight-to-video movie, 2003's The Challenge. We imagine they were very comparable experiences.

Jesse Spencer

"Need a tour guide?" Every Olsen twins fan definitely swooned when Spencer, pre-House and Chicago Fire fame, courted Mary-Kate as James, the son of a British diplomat, in Winning London. That accent!

Rhea Pearlman

OK, so, in 1992's To Grandmother's House We Go, the Cheers star plays a robber who, along with her criminal husband (played by Jerry Van Dyke), pretend to befriend the runaway 6-year-old twins in attempt to get ransom money from their single mother. WHAT?! We have about 1 million questions, the first being how on earth did we not think this was insane when we watched it repeatedly as children? 

The second season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds premieres Thursday, June 15, on Paramount+.

Get the drama behind the scenes. Sign up for TV Scoop!