STLV17 Interview: Mary Chieffo And Kenneth Mitchell Show They Really Know Their Klingons

Today, the Las Vegas Star Trek convention was an absolute marathon of Star Trek: Discovery goodness. After their first ever convention appearance on stage, TrekMovie caught up with Mary Chieffo (L’Rell) and Kenneth Mitchell (Kol) to chat about what past Klingons have inspired them, how Discovery‘s Klingons are different that what we’ve seen before, and how Star Trek can be used to tell tales as epic as The Odyssey.

Klingons that have come before

So you guys both play Klingons on Discovery. Were there any particular Klingons in Star Trek history that you’ve taken particular inspiration from?

Mary Chieffo: I will say I did have a specific eye on the female Klingons. I love all of them. They’re all really fun and interesting. K’Ehleyr was awesome in The Next Generation. I also really loved in Deep Space Nine Grilka. I loved her story with Quark and just how she ended up having to — she worked the system, and she was able to become the leader of her own house, which was, you know it is a patriarchal species, and so that was thrilling particularly because I think L’Rell follows in that vein. The fact that she is full Klingon is fun, too, but of course who doesn’t like B’Ellana?

Kenneth Mitchel: I keep going back to the first Klingon in “Errand of Mercy,” Kor played by John Colicos. He didn’t even have any prosthetics, it was just all make-up. I found what was interesting was that he played everything really subtle, and it was very complex. It was a great launching pad because the idea is that we’re trying to steer away a little bit from the idea of [the Klingons] just being these barbarians. So it was fun to go back to the first Klingon that was shown on TOS. And, then I also did some reading of “The Final Reflection” the John M. Ford book, it also was a great launching pad for understanding the depth and complexity of the Klingons.

Two Klingons, Kol (Kenneth Mitchell) and L’Rell (Mary Chieffo), on stage at #STLV 2017

On the thrill of the con

How are you guys enjoying the convention so far?

Mary Chieffo: Loving it! We’re giddy!

Is it pretty crazy being up there on stage and seeing the fans react to this for the first time? You’re finally getting to talk about it.

MC: Yeah, that’s definitely thrilling that we’re getting to throw a little bit more out there. Because we’ve been living with these characters for a while now, and it’s fun to give a little more flavor and yeah to see a genuine, positive response. You guys, Trek fans, are very special people.

KM: You quickly settle in because you feel the energy from the fans.

A lot of you talk about feeling a kind of privilege and honor to be part of the franchise. Does it change your perspective at all to see the fans the way you’ve seen them today?
KM: You know, that’s an interesting point because, when I think about it, that responsibility has been in my mind and in my head. And, when you’re here [at the convention] you’re seeing that visually. You’re seeing the fans in their cosplay and the dedication they have. You’re reminded, “Oh yeah. This is what it’s all about.”

MC: Absolutely, I think like we keep saying, I’m in this to be of service and to help tell stories. And, to already be so loved and accepted by this group of people that also loves these stories. I really feel that sci-fi in general, but particularly trek, is our modern mythology. It’s these epic tales that keep going. I think of The Iliad and The Odyssey and how they would come back to Homer and say, “please tell us more!”. I think that we really get to experience what it is to be a continuation of this story after 50 years. It’s incredible.

Kenneth and Mary in the Star Trek: Discovery museum at #STLV 2017

Stay tuned for more interviews and more panel reports from Star Trek Las Vegas.

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