Michelle Yeoh and Jason Isaacs Reveal Details On The Two Captains For ‘Star Trek: Discovery’

One of they key differences with Star Trek: Discovery is that the main point of view character for the show is not a captain, but first officer Michael Burnham played by Sonequa Martin-Green. And as it turns out Burnham ends up serving under two different captains during the first season, starting with Capt. Phillipa Georgiou of the USS Shenzhou (played by Michell Yeoh) and then moving on to the USS Discovery under the command of Capt. Gabriel Lorca (played by Jason Isaacs).

The official Star Trek site has a pair of new interviews with both Yeoh and Isaacs talking about their very different captains and their relationships with Michael Burnham.

Georgiou – optimistic mentor to Burnham

Speaking to the official Star Trek site actress Michelle Yeoh gave a detailed description of her character of Captain Georgiou:

I know that she is a war veteran. She has seen the horrors of war because it comes out in the dialogue as well. But she is a very compassionate person. As I look into her, she, by heart, is an explorer. She loved the universe. She loved the ability and the possibility of seeing new stars, new novae being born. She’s always awed by that. That’s what I love about this character. She’s not cynical. She’s not jaded by all the things. She believes — and she firmly believes — in the hope and the goodness of humanity. It’s very pure to play a character like that, to bring her to the fore, but she’s also very smart. Otherwise, she would’ve been dead a long time ago. (laughs) Space is quite a dangerous place.

Yeoh also went into detail on the long relationship and backstory between Georgiou, Sarek and Michael Burnham:

She is definitely a mentor [to Michael Burnham] because when she came… even at the prelude you already know that they’ve been together for seven years. She’s obviously the one who’s been teaching her, trying to guide her on the right path. But (Burnham’s) background makes it so interesting because she’s the only human. She forgot she was human because she was growing up in the Vulcan world. She was becoming more Vulcan than Vulcan itself. She beat herself up to even more than that. And, it’s brutal. I don’t know how anybody can survive, unless you are a Vulcan, the kind of training you have to get through so that you are so in control and everything becomes about logic and clear cut and things like that.

Sarek, Spock’s dad, is a dear friend of Captain Georgiou and he truly believed that Captain Georgiou would be able to instill the good human qualities back into her, because fundamentally she’s a human being, right? You cannot deny yourself what you are. So, it’s not just about discovery into space and finding new friends and new cultures, species, but it’s self-discovery. And, especially for Sonequa’s character because when she comes, she is like, “I am the Vulcan of the Vulcans, man.” Captain Georgiou’s looking at her, “Oh really? We’ll see about that.”

Georgiou and Burnham on board the USS Shenzhou

Lorca – a darker captain with an agenda

Actor Jasson Isaacs talked to the official Star Trek site about Captain Lorca and what drew him to the role. From his description you can see Lorca and Georgiou have a different style:

…the fact that I wasn’t playing the same color over and over again, that there were hidden depths to this man, that he was going to react in surprising ways in different situations, that he had maybe other agendas at certain points with people that were… that they knew about themselves or they didn’t know about themselves. He’s in denial about certain things. That he was recognizably human, and that it was a story born out of our times to tell of our times, these very troubling, dark times we live in, divisive times we live in.

They also talked about Lorca’s relationship with Burnham, which again is very different from the one with Georgiou:

I see great potential in her, and I have an interest in her, but that may be slightly, hopefully, interesting, enigmatic for people and wonder why there is. And while it’s not hard to wonder what it is… You look at her, she’s incredibly capable. She’s an incredibly capable character. She’s raised on Vulcan, and she gets a bit of a second chance under my wing. But, she’s a charismatic person on and off camera, Sonequa, and so everyone is slightly drawn into her web as well.

Burnham and Lorca on board the USS Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery premieres on September 24th on CBS with all subsequent episodes on CBS All Access in the US.  In Canada Star Trek: Discovery will premiere  on Bell Media’s CTV and the Space Channel on the same night. Netflix will launch Star Trek: Discovery on Monday, September 25 to countries outside of the U.S. and Canada.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.


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Beautifully said, although it says very little. Ha.

Even with the unlikely relationship to Spock’s family, Burnham’s Vulcan background and the impact it has on the narrative may be one of the biggest selling points of this show, at least for me. I really hope the show runners have the stuff to pull it off. Getting Vulcans right is hard, a lot harder than it looks.

Yeah I agree, Michael. With so much hinging on the character of Burnham, I hope they pull off this Vulcan/Human thing properly, both in the writing room, and, in Martin-Green’s performance.

She never impressed me as an actress when she was on The Walking Dead, but as I’ve said before here, maybe that was due to the character she was playing, which I thought distinctly unlikeable.

You’re right, doing Vulcans well is really hard. Leonard Nimoy did such a good job of it that he made it look easy, but it wasn’t. If we watch TOS in production order, we see that it took Mr. Nimoy a good six or seven episodes to really get a handle on who Spock was and how to play him. Of course, now everyone has his example to go by, so they don’t have to invent Vulcans from scratch, the way he did, but it’s still not easy.

And Mr. Nimoy’s autobiographies make it clear that playing a Vulcan as a Method actor takes a tremendous emotional toll, because it requires putting oneself into a Vulcan mindset and then STAYING in that mindset for all of the working day, which is typically around 12 hours. Turn off your emotions for twelve hours straight, five days a week, and that’s HARD, and it takes a toll on one’s real emotions and on one’s relationships. We’re really very privileged that Mr. Nimoy went through so much to give us Spock.

Most of the people involved in writing and producing Discovery are Star Trek fans, and I hope that means they understand what Vulcans should be and are writing them properly.

Michael Burnham certainly seems passionate in the trailers, so I’m guessing she did get her human mojo back. :-)

Nimoy had the advantage of having a clean slate for Spock, and the professionalism to craft it properly. I’m sure Jolene Blalock is a fine actress, but it became obvious from interviews she had no desire to define the T’Pol character above and beyond what was handed to her in the script. As such, the character is very forgettable.

And Quinto never got a handle on it. Maybe that was bad scripting or bad directing or just his not being suited to it, or maybe some of each.
And so far, in spite of really like James Frain’s work up to now, he does not really present as Sarek to me. But my experience with Sarek is from the Prime Universe, so it may not apply to this new Discovery universe.

Totally agree with you about Quinto, c d. There are people who make excuses for him being more emotional in the KT because of his life circumstances, but it never worked for me. He’s no Nimoy.

As to DISC, technically it is taking place in the same Prime Universe. There is no Discovery Universe (yet). So what we’re going to see from Frain is supposed to be the same Sarek Marc Lenard played (so wonderfully). Just watched Journey to Babel again last night.

Danpaine, I love “Journey to Babel” so, so much! I’m amazed at how much Dorothy Fontana packed into that episode, all without making it seem rushed or incomprehensible.

We meet Spock’s parents; we learn about the estrangement with Sarek; we meet the Andorians and Tellarites for the first time; we hear about sehlats; there’s a murder; Sarek has a heart attack; Kirk is attacked; Spock makes the supreme sacrifice of allowing his father to die and his mother to hate him in order to do his duty to Starfleet, but wait, he doesn’t actually have to lose those things because Kirk heroically gets up off of his sickbed and displays both his loyalty to his friend and his tactical genius, all while half fainting from blood loss, and finally there’s a reconciliation between Spock and Sarek.

Whew! That’s SO much, and it’s all so interesting, and it all shows us so much about who these characters are, all while doing some world-building about other Federation members. Dorothy Fontana wrote a truly amazing episode there; I wish they’d recruited her to write for Star Trek: Discovery.

Leonard Nimoy is truly fabulous in this episode. The scene in his quarters, where his mother begs him to save Sarek, and he explains to her what it means to be a Vulcan, then she slaps him and storms out of the room — it’s just amazing. Nimoy lets us know that Spock’s heart is breaking, all without being overly emotional or breaking his Vulcanity. And Mark Lenard is wonderful as Sarek — truly amazing for just a guest star who hadn’t spent the past year and a half figuring out what Vulcans were like. Stunning work from both our Vulcans!

Corylea – agreed with everything you said about that episode, they really knocked the ball out of the park with that one. Hard to believe they did everything they did in less than an hour, tight production. Perhaps they’ll tap Fontana to write an episode for DISC in season two. According to IMDB, she hasn’t worked on anything in almost 10 years.

Almost unintentionally, I find myself watching more and more TOS episodes as DISC approaches. Revisiting the TOS movies, as well. Great times to be a Trek fan.

It’s true that NuSpock isn’t very Spocklike, but I blame that on the writing, not on the actor. Zachary Quinto has been given scripts where he’s supposed to strangle Kirk, scream, cry, beat Khan half to death, and be in love with Uhura; the reboot writers treat him as a pointy-eared action hero, rather than as a restrained and brilliant Vulcan scientist. I think even Mr. Nimoy might have found it challenging to maintain his Vulcanity in the face of such writing.

Discovery is supposedly taking place in the Prime universe, so we’ll see how Frain’s Sarek is once we have more than trailers to go by. We really lucked out with Mark Lenard — both that a random guest star did such a good job with a Vulcan and that he was still alive and willing to play the role 17 years later when they made TSFS. How surprising must it have been for Mr. Lenard, to get a call to appear in The Search for Spock, SEVENTEEN YEARS after a one-week guest stint on a cancelled TV show? :-)


Re: Mr. Lenard

You don’t think his donning the ears in BALANCE OF TERROR for his role of the Romulan Commander, earlier, might have given Lenard an “ear” up on playing a Vulcan?

”Spock’s father Sarek was portrayed by Mark Lenard, who had earlier played a Romulan on the series (in fact, that job was one of his very first in Hollywood—and apparently he gave such a fine performance that the next time the producers needed someone for another pointy-eared role, they said, “Say . . . remember that guy who played the Romulan in “Balance of Terror”?).” — Leonard Nimoy, I AM SPOCK, Copyright (C)1995

Random guest star, indeed.

Disinvited, yes, I know that Mr. Lenard played the Romulan Commander in “Balance of Terror.” But Romulans don’t behave as Vulcans do, and Mr. Lenard didn’t play opposite Leonard Nimoy at all during that episode. Mr. Lenard’s scenes were almost exclusively with the other Romulans, and he had one brief interaction with Kirk at a time when Spock wasn’t on the bridge.

So I doubt that Mr. Lenard would have had much opportunity to observe Mr. Nimoy in action. Actors aren’t called to the set for scenes that they aren’t in, and on the days when the crew was filming exclusively on the Enterprise, Mr. Lenard wouldn’t even have been called to the Desilu LOT, much less to the set.

Wearing a set of pointed ears doesn’t make a person behave as a Vulcan, as innumerable bad Vulcans have shown us. :-)


Re: Romulans don’t behave as Vulcans do

Perhaps, but they most definitely are the same species, both are indeed Vulcanoid, the episode has the character Spock note this. A couple of hundred years of separation does not a new humanoid species make.

Also, regardless of your lack of esteem for Lenard’s marvelous turn as a Romulan, nevertheless Lenard was considered good enough by the production on March 30, 1967 to be considered to replace Nimoy when Leonard started contract renegotiations.


“Lenard fit the Vulcan/Romulan look so well that he was briefly considered as a replacement Vulcan in 1967 when Leonard Nimoy balked at contract negotiations to return for the second season of Star Trek.” — Obit, STARTREK.com

Disinvited, please don’t put words in my mouth. I didn’t say that there was anything wrong with Mr. Lenard’s portrayal of the Romulan Commander — I thought it was really quite good, in fact.

What I said was that behaving as a Romulan for that episode wouldn’t prepare him to behave as a Vulcan for “Journey to Babel.” And that’s something I’m harping on because it’s to his credit. To pick up Vulcan deportment in a one-week guest stint is an amazing achievement.

I will not debate this with you further, since it seems that you either do not understand anything I say or are willfully misunderstanding it, and neither one makes me wish to engage with you further.

Yeoh: “Otherwise, she would’ve been dead a long time ago. (laughs)” Anyone else reading into this as “she made it as far as this, but if she hadn’t been so tough she wouldn’t have” — you think that’s why she’s laughing? Like she had a good run. Maybe subtly acknowledging her character’s demise?

I guess she gave us a little hint that her character would be dead. Aaah if that’s true too bad.

It seems odd to me that Amanda wouldn’t have been able to nurture more of Michael’s humanity. Indeed, if we accept Spock’s behavior in “The Cage” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before” as canon, then he almost appears to be the more emotional one.

I’m curious to see if Discovery will address Sarek’s reaction to Michael choosing Starfleet Academy. I assume he approved (or at least tolerated it) since his relationship with her is much better than his relationship with Spock at this point in time.

Sarek definitely raised some interesting offspring. First, there is Sybok who is full-Vulcan but rejects logic in favor of emotion. Then there is Spock, who is half-Vulcan and half-Human and spends a decent chunk of his life trying to find the balance. Finally, there is his foster daughter Michael who is a a full-blooded human but becomes “Vulcaner than Thou” and has to be sent away to bring out her human side.

Prior to being fired, Bryan Fuller mentioned he loved both Sarek and Amanda. I think she’ll be there in some way. We simply haven’t seen her yet.


James Frain who plays Sarek on ‘Discovery’ said that Amanada will appear on the show around episode 9 or 10.

Have they cast her yet?
Tatiana Maslany for Amanda!

@c d,

Yes but we don’t know the name of the actress.


James Frain: “There’s a little bit of backstory that starts happening about how she became involved in his life. And then Amanda comes in — in the last episode I shot, she had just been introduced, so I’m pretty sure we’re going to be finding out about that. But I haven’t read the last five episodes”

Maybe she wanted to impress Sarek and pushed herself to say “hey, I can be Vulcan too.” Whereas there was always the notion that even in youth, Spock pushed back against his father’s guidance. Maybe Burnam wanted to be the child he could be proud of? Kids have crazy notions when they’re growing up.

You may be on to something here. I was watching part of the TAS episode “Yesteryear” recently. There’s a scene where Sarek is trying to impress on Spock the need to succeed the first time at his Kahs-wan. Apparently, while it there would be no shame in a full Vulcan failing in his first attempt, Spock, as a half-Vulcan, would be greatly dishonored if he didn’t.

So, in Spock’s case, there was definitely a desire on Sarek’s part for Spock to prove he was as good as any other Vulcan. (Apparently, IDIC does not necessarily start at home.) This may have rubbed off on Michael.

I like that idea.

We could still see Amanda.
You never know.

I’m getting more and more convinced that Lorca is actually Garth of Izar… anyone else getting this vibe?

No, you’re the only one, Alec.

Ive seen this speculation a lot. Mostly, I guess, from the description of the character. But of course, there can be more than one brilliant military tactician with shades of grey.

But if they are deceiving us and he IS Garth, so be it.

@Etymologicool: I’m not an Alec Peters or Axanar sock puppet, and I’m all but convinced that Gabriel Lorca is (or will become) Garth of Izar.

I’ve posted this little scenario before at TrekCore.com, so I’ll repeat it once here:

SCENE 96 – Discovery Captain’s Ready Room

LORCA and BURNHAM are sitting on the ready room couch, sharing a brandy and commiserating on the events that have just unfolded. The camera moves in slowly on the captain and his first officer as we join them in mid-conversation.

BURNHAM: …so that is how I got my first name of “Michael”.

LORCA: Fascinating. I never would have guessed.

BURNHAM (tentatively): So Captain, is there a story behind your first name?

LORCA (hesitates): Well, Gabriel is actually my middle name.

LORCA pauses. The camera closes in on his face.

LORCA: My first name is Garth.



That would be pretty cool indeed, Scott.

I hope I’m wrong and the reveal with Lorca is something more unexpected and twisty. I’m an amateur piker, and at this point I know I’m not the only one who’s come up with a scenario like this.

That’s part of the problem with creating an original TV show or movie these days–you’ve got literally millions of fans out there on the Internet constantly thinking up every possible permutation, twist, and turn… and then sharing those theories online. If you’re the screenwriter, you’re contending with the realization that eventually someone somewhere is BOUND to come up with whatever surprise you’re cooking up.

Wasn’t Garth a member of Starfleet?
Why would he pose as Captain Lorca?

This isn’t a criticism, but it’s not just the Kelvin’s bridge that appears to have been a source of inspiration for DSC. The writers seem to have taken a few other themes from the JJ movies and either flipped them or “corrected/improved” problematic areas. For example, Burnham’s relationships with Georgiou and Lorca sound just like some Trekmovie commenters’ suggestions for what would’ve made a much better storyline in STID: Kirk morally caught between the competing influences of his mentors/parental figures Pike and Marcus. Sarek obviously has the “Pike” role to some extent too.

T’Kuvma sounds a lot like what many people assumed Krall was before Beyond was actually released: Alien from a very different culture who fundamentally disagrees with Federation values, feels threatened by Federation expansion and “pushes back”.

There’s other stuff; I’ve previously mentioned the apparent similarities between ST09’s famous opening scene and DSC’s Shenzhou/Klingons scene, although some of the specifics have been flipped around here.

Considering that the Kelvin is in the prime timeline, that makes perfect sense.

Actually Kelvin in the Abramsverse, at least the Kelvin we have seen, not the Prime Universe.

The Kelvin Universe was ‘born’ when Nero arrived from the future in Star Trek 09′, c d. So actually, the Kelvin (ship) and everything before it is the Prime Timeline we all know from TV shows and all previous films. Like DISC will be set in the Prime Universe.

Abramsverse is simply a slang someone on the internet came up with, sarcastically I think.


Re: The Kelvin Universe was ‘born’ when Nero arrived from the future…

Non sequitur, your science is uncoordinated. Ambassador Spock traversed the black hole that he created BEFORE Nero. Ergo, Spock’s time travel attempt gave birth to the duplicate Kelvin UNIVERSE. Nero’s actions only caused the already created KU’s timeline to diverge from Prime’s. Nero only created the alternate KT not the KU duplicate itself.

Fair enough, Disinvited. Uncoordinated science is by far not the worst thing I’ve ever been accused of. :)

I was just trying to make clear the divergence from the Prime you explained above.

The comments about Burnham being “more Vulcan than the Vulcans” reminds me of Worf. He always struck me as trying to be “more Klignon than the Klignons” due to having grown up on Earth. Also one of his main story arcs, across two tv shows and multiple movies, seemed to center around him trying to reconcile his upbringing on Earth with his Klignon heritage. I wonder if that will be Burnham’s series long arc or if they will drop it after 1 season?

Jason Lorca has his twig & berries on full display when he sits. Probably why he uses a standing desk. At least from the pic given in the article. He has big balls dude. I assume that was intentional from the CBS pubic relations department. Heavens to murgatroid If Kevin Bacon can give us some full Kevin, cannot #JasonLorca #HeHasBigBalls #HaventSeenThePilot #FullFrontalCBSAllAccessGratuitousCockShot #ShowUsYourCock