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.”
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.
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.