STLV18: Jason Isaacs Talks Canon, Controversy, Space Wedgies And Why He Joined ‘Star Trek: Discovery’

Jason Isaacs at STLV 2018

The highlight for Thursday at the Star Trek Las Vegas con was Jason Isaacs. This was the first STLV appearance for the actor who played the enigmatic Captain Gabriel Lorca in the first season of Star Trek: Discovery. While on stage he talked about why he was reluctant to take the job, what he learned about Star Trek, as well as revealing some fun behind-the-scenes tidbits from life on the set.

Stays mum on return of Lorca

Early on in his time on stage, Jason Isaacs addressed what is likely what is top of mind for many fans, by letting the audience know he wasn’t going to talk about Lorca coming back, saying:

You can ask me any questions, any questions you like, including questions about any future sightings of Lorca, anywhere in Star Trek and I will probably continue to lie and keep secrets, like I did last year. You can ask anything you like, but you will get nothing out of me.

Later during the Q&A as he threw fortune cookies into the crowd, a fan did ask if the “good” Lorca would be make an appearance, and Isaacs feigned that he couldn’t hear the question, quipping “Sorry I can’t hear what you are saying…The mic is not working, next person…”

Jason Isaacs at STLV 2018

Jason Isaacs reads out a Star Trek fortune cookie at Star Trek Las Vegas 2018

Needed to know Lorca’s secret to take the Job

Isaacs talked about how he “just loved” the original Star Trek when he was young and “worshiped” Captain Kirk, who he saw as a role model on how to be a man. Which is why, he said, he was reluctant to take the part of Lorca when he was first approached. He was concerned that he could only be a “pale copy” of what had come before. However, he became more intrigued by the show when he learned it would be serialized and would deal with “headline” and “hot topic issues.” He was also attracted to the idea that the show would star Sonequa Martin-Green, who he admired from The Walking Dead.

The thing that convinced him was through a series of Skype chats with producers, where it was revealed that Lorca would have a secret, something he relished as an actor, noting “What actors love is a secret. It’s a five-course meal. It gives you something to play.” However, Isaacs revealed that in these early chats, the writers and producers hadn’t exactly worked out what Lorca’s “secret agenda” was beyond being from the Mirror Universe. He recalled the conversation:

They said it’s either going to be that he wants to get back [to the Mirror Universe], or he wants to bring people here, or he wants to conquer it, or he wants to take her there, or he wants to partner up with her, or he wants to kill people. I said I can’t play that, that is a hundred different things. When you have a secret, you know what your secret is. If I am going to act it, I need to know what the secret is.

This ambiguity left Isaacs wary until subsequently (now former) executive producer Akiva Goldsman told him he could be “part of the discussion and part of evolving” the character, which he appreciated, adding “I jumped in and I am so glad that I did. It turned out to be one of the great experiences of my working life.”

This was Jason Isaac’s first Star Trek convention

Canon and controversy

The actor also talked about some of the early fan discussion of the show, before it ever got on the air, noting that he understood how many were skeptical:

These stories had been told in a world of love and inclusiveness for so many decades and people were rightly very reticent about whether we were going to do it badly and whether we were going to honor Gene Roddenberry’s original vision.

He also assured fans that much care and discussion went into every decision, including things that were different about the show:

What no one realized until we started, and I think you all realized pretty soon, is the writer’s room is full of insane Trekkers, insane geeks, who would spend days arguing over canon and whether something was hard canon or soft canon…They would argue over what was and wasn’t allowed. Believe me, the redesign of things, the Klingons for instance, or of the communication tools, was the subject of endless, endless debate. Nothing was done lightly and nothing was done cynically.

However, the actor had no empathy for online trolls who sent him, Sonequa Martin-Green and others hateful messages, attacking the show over its diversity. He dismissed them as people who “were not Star Trek fans and had never seen an episode and they didn’t know what the great legacy was.”

The actor also went on to note that as they were making the show, he came to appreciate the “huge legacy” of Star Trek and how Discovery was dealing with modern issues, saying:

Something about the process made us all realize that it is so much more than a story and these are so much more than characters. It represents something important and increasingly important in this world where hate is getting pumped out on political platforms all over the world…This is a show that posits a world where the color of your skin and your religion and your sexuality and even your species, shouldn’t be a barrier between beings. And they are all working for the greater good.

And that is something we didn’t realize. We are all actors. I’m an actor. I got there and all I wanted to do is say “Energize” one time. That’s all I wanted to do. Point a phaser at someone and I was done. We all gradually realized we are responsible for something bigger than that. That this legacy and this mission of Roddenberry’s, to tell the world we are capable of better stuff and how important it was. And we all feel that responsibility. As well as to be entertaining.

Jason Isaacs at STLV 2018

Game nights and Disco’s solution to the Picard Manuever

The actor also revealed  some fun tidbits about life on set for Star Trek: Discovery. One way the cast bonded early on was Sonequa Martin-Green’s insistence that they all socialize with game nights, which became a “regular thing” at his house in Toronto. He noted it was a great way to break down barriers, saying:

We all kind of bonded. Everybody met regularly and we had a fantastic time outside of work. So, when we got to work, it was like a bunch of friends. There was no hierarchy. The people who had no lines or one line were just part of the family.

Isaacs had a lot to say about the costumes on the show, describing them as a “gastric band” due to how tight they were.  He joked that this was one area where the show wasn’t living up to its ideals, saying:

Although the future is all-inclusive when it comes races and sexuality and physical types, but there can be no creases, apparently. It was very, very important from CBS that the clothes should never have a crease in them.

He explained how for Discovery the solution to minimize creases and solve the “Picard Manuever” issue of the jackets riding up whenever you stood up was solved by having the jackets zipped to the pants. However, this created a new problem that whenever you lifted your arms up, you would get a “front wedgie” creating what he described as “space camel toe.”

The actor noted that when the first image of Lorca was released, it revealed a “tremendously controversial crease” which he joked resulted in “everybody getting fired.” In the end, the only way to make things work was for him to have two jackets, one for when he was seated and one for when he was standing, and they had to swap them out between takes.

Jason Isaacs as Captain Gabriel Lorca in Star Trek: Discovery

This first image of Lorca, which showed him with a creased uniform, apparently caused an uproar

More STLV to come

Thursday was day two for Star Trek Las Vegas, with three more to go. If you want to preview what is happening, check out our highlights from the schedule. Stay tuned for more daily coverage here at TrekMovie.com. Also be sure to follow along with our social media reporting from STLV on Twitter and Instagram.

CLICK HERE to see all of our STLV coverage.

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BorgKlingon

He will be back for a future season as Prime Lorca — you can take that to the bank.

Fabio

That was really fun!

AJinMoscow

He demolished that role. We need Isaacs and (nice) Lorca back on the Disco, for sure.

Corylea

Isaacs was absolutely riveting, all season long! I’m amused that he didn’t want to be a “pale copy” of Kirk, since if anyone could match Shatner’s intensity, it’s Jason Isaacs.

And I agree — I hope Prime Lorca will turn up someday!

Bytowner

If “(nice) Lorca” is the one we read about in Drastic Measures, I agree. Here’s hoping.

In the meantime, we’ll see what happens with everything else DSC-related…which ought to be interesting enough in its own right.

BorgKlingon

When are we going to get some coverage of The Oville conventions?

Oh wait, they don’t get any conventions…LOL (just kidding) ;-)

And yet, they get Star Trek right, whereas Discovery … does not. Weird.

HN4

Fart and poop jokes make Star Trek right? I don’t think so. Fox will cancel it soon anyway.

PEB

If you really think they get Star Trek right, you haven’t been watching any of the Star Trek that exists… It’s all good if you like the show, I have no problem with that but it’s a Star Trek show and doesn’t get Trek “right.” By that logic, you might as well call Austin Powers a Bond film.

BorgKlingon

“By that logic, you might as well call Austin Powers a Bond film.”

Great analogy!

Amulius Victor

Forehead of the week – check
Childish preachy moral of the week – check
Lame technobabble solution of the week – check
This is vintage Braga Trek…..during the era of Braga when he was lead show runner for Voyager and Enterprise. Of course he decided to blame the fans with “franchise fatigue” instead of his lame cliched formulaic tropes. Now he’s waited 15yrs to unleash that cheesy formula again with the Orville.

I get it, and respect the fans that love this formula and style (More power to you and may Orville run for many seasons). Fortunately for me I am glad that it’s on a spoof/imitation show rather than on the current incarnation of Trek.

ML31

“Of course he decided to blame the fans with “franchise fatigue””

I do not recall Berman blaming the fans for anything. It was others who claimed “franchise fatigue”. Which lays nothing at the feet of the fans.

BorgKlingon

@Amulius Victor

OUTSTANDING POST !!!

Not only did Berman infer about fans regarding franchise fatigue, he also rejected many fans’ desire to see a legitimate gay crew member over and over during his tenure. Andy Mangels–Trek’s only openly gay writer, said it best:

“Berman was ultimately responsible for killing almost every pitch for gay characters, and in interviews, was mealy-mouthed and waffling about the need for LBBT representation. At the very least, he was gutless and didn’t care about GLBT representation. From the information and evidence I’ve seen, heard, and read, I believe that Berman is the reason we never saw gays on Star Trek I shed no tears that he’s gone, except that he did his best to ruin the franchise on his way out.”

Not so on Discovery, thank goodness. Now we finally have something at leastg approaching “true human IDIC” on Star Trek thanks to the Discovery team. This is a huge improvement from the overrated Berman era.

Tiger2

That’s really not fair though. Maybe Berman was reluctant to place more gay and lesbian characters on the show but that was during a time MANY were. And I remember waaaaaay back in the 90s at a Trek convention where Kate Mulgrew was asked the question should they have gay characters on the show. She gave a very roundabout answer but basically said she would have no problem with it and some people actually booed her. At a Star Trek convention. And this was still a time her being a Captain was still an issue to people. So I can imagine the response would’ve been harsher over a gay character and why Berman was reluctant. Sure its easy for US to say he should’ve done it (and I don’t blame the writer for feeling frustrated over it), but its easy to say that when you don’t have to worry about ratings or fan backlash over it.

DIS doing it now is not exactly a big deal anymore since there are essentially a gay or lesbian character on most shows today. It’s the complete opposite of where TV was when VOY and DS9 was on. I certainly give them credit for doing it but its now pretty passe. And even that happened because the original show runner was gay. And yet there are still people who has an issue with it.

BorgKlingon

But the fact that on so many internet sites, some fans to this day keep complaining about “diversity” in DSC, unfortunately, shows that this is still a “big deal” today.

Berman could have been more bold — other mainstream shows at the time had first same-sex kisses, etc. He chose to stick with the status quo and not rock the boat, so it is now part of his legacy that he missed a golden opportunity to advance Trek IDIC in a new way.

Tiger2

Yes, but those people are clearly in the minority today. My point is you can easily find more diversity everywhere on TV now including gay and lesbian characters because thankfully the world has progressed a bit more. I mean you hear way less about it on these boards now because they either gave up or people just chased them off.

Maybe Berman could’ve been more bold but he did at least show one same sex relationships with Dax and her girlfriend at the time which WAS considered a big deal when they kissed (I still watch that clip about 15 times a day lol). So it wasn’t completely ignored, but yes they excused it because Dax use to be a man (and funny enough I used to and still do consider Dax one of the first truly transsexual characters in Star Trek. Only that show could even gotten away with a character being both a man and a woman like they did at the time).

But I’m not saying he couldn’t have done more. He could have, but I can’t blame him that much either and we don’t even know how the network itself would’ve responded. Maybe he was told it was never going to happen but that is strictly speculation on my part. But would anyone be shocked if the studio did tell him that?

BorgKlingon

OK, I’ll meet you half-way and agree with you on this.

ML31

Just to point this one out… Remember the TNG episode where Crusher had a relationship with a Trill (I think it was that species’ into to Trek) and she had to move the sybmbiant to a female? Crusher couldn’t handle it and broke the whole thing off. Think if they did that one today they would have had Crusher be “enlightened” and just go with it?

HN4

Amulius Victor – I forgot about Braga being apart of the orville. No wonder I don’t care to watch it. That guy killed Trek.

Mirror Galt

One wonders if there would be a second season of Moonves Disco, had it not been for Mr. Isaacs giving his scenes some semblance of dramatic substance. Insane Trekkies sounds about right, debating the canon of, er, a haunted mushroom-powered multiverse and Westeros Klingons casting enchanted finger beams etc. The real Paul Stamets must’ve been supplying the room with his psilocybin cupcakes! Glurp.

BorgKlingon

If you must use GoT analogies, at least please try to sound less amateurish about it, and use analogies that make sense. The Klingons would obviously be the Dothraki from the continent of Essos, not Westeros. The Klingons were a series of competing tribes with a unifying culture in search of an overall leader to unite them — similar to the Dothraki…like, duh!

To create a viable analogy that people will take seriously it is important to know the source material that you are basing the analogy on.

AtzeH

OK, understood: Not Lorca, but the real Jason Isaacs is from the mirror universe! What a twist… ;D

Spoiler:
Lorca fell into the mycelium drive core. When Stamets brings back Culber from the network in season 2, Lorca’s “projection” there will take the same way back.

Oh, and prime Lorca is still in the mirror universe onboard the intact but fleeing Buran (mirror Lorca did lie about that small detail).

Hard work for Jason to play a double role…

I'm Dead Jim

That mirror Buran was destroyed. Good Lorca would have to have been removed immediately upon arriving in the mirror universe or ended up somewhere else to have survived.

Curious Cadet

@AtzeH — I agree, I don’t think we can rule out Mirror Lorca returning. The Mycelium drive is fast becoming the Nexus of DISC, where evidently anything can happen.

Tiger2

LOL so true. I never thought of it that way but you’re right, it could be like the Nexus and if they found a way to bring back Culber then its possible in theory Lorca could be brought back the same way.

Marja

AtzeH
“Lorca fell into the mycelium drive core. When Stamets brings back Culber from the network in season 2, Lorca’s “projection” there will take the same way back.”

Ugh, I’ve been having this thought for months. I think there was a REASON for him to get cast into the core. My theory, as it were, was that Mirror Lorca’s essence [if you will] rode the mycelial wave and tagged along with DISCO. I begged the writers on Twitter to please not do that, but do they listen to me?!

Just bring us Prime Lorca, dealing with Acute Stress Disorder or Post-Traumatic Stress ….

Time will tell. Jason can’t help himself sometimes and the fact that he signed the STLV banner with his name and “LORCA THE EMPEROR” gave me pause.

Maybe he’ll be Emperor in bubble universe? And DISCO travels there? Oh, my head hurts.

ML31

With all due respect the more I hear from Issacs the more I just want Lorca (both prime and mirror) to be dead. Never to return.

daniel

He was my favorite character by far. I hope to see him again.

FLB

Same. Lorca was the shining beacon of Season 1.

ML31

He was. Until he wasn’t.

I honestly have no desire to see the white hat Lorca whatsoever. The Lorca character was ruined the instant it was decided he was really a one dimensional mustache twirler.

BorgKlingon

Agreed. Season One just whetted my appetite to see what Issacs and the writers come up with when he most certainly returns as Prime Lorca is S3 or S4.

DeanH

Issacs certainly doesn’t need the money – so great to see him show up at STLV!! Also it sounds like he was very pragmatic and to the point, yet still entertaining and that he genuinely loved working with his Disco castmates. Director Frakes said the camaraderie he saw reminds him of TNG and it sounds like that is absolutely true. All this love and support for Trek makes me assume Captain Lorca will be back in one way, shape or form!

TonyD

For 3/4 of the season he was by far the most interesting captain since Kirk and left pretty much every other character on Discovery in the dust. Once he was removed from the board it left a gaping hole in the show and the final episodes really suffered for it (Michelle Yeoh’s attempts at supplanting him as the “wildcard” character during those last episodes fell absolutely flat for me, but I never thought much of her acting). I hope his time with Trek isn’t done, I’d love to see what he can do with “good” Lorca.

Curious Cadet

@TonyD — I think he’ll be back, but I don’t think we can necessarily rule out Mirror Lorca given he was presumed killed in the Mycelium drive. We saw him dissentigrate, but we see crew dissenegrate then reintegrate every time hey step in the transporter, sometimes 75 years later!

PEB

It’ll be fun to see how Anson does as Pike. The show seems to have some really quality captains.

ML31

I personally always do a little eyeroll when I hear people speak about “Roddenberry’s vision”. I have always felt it a mistake for show runners to slavishly adhere to that. A large reason DS9 was created was to get away from the “Roddenberry vision”. And it turned out to be the best of the spin off sereis’.

Producers should respect the universe Roddenberry created. After that, try and do your own thing in that universe.

Phil

Well, Jason, if you’re going to fib about your future status, just tell everyone you’re not coming back…

Tiger2

I really loved Lorca like every one else. He was certainly one of the better characters in first season by far.

I think Isaacs just love being part of Trek because now he can do stuff like this lol. He seems REALLY into it and heard he was suppose to do a Trek cruise too. That’s what so funny about Star Trek, you can be on it just a few weeks but then go years if not decades being part of conventions and other fan events. And its so fun to see all the Trek stars together mixing it up together. I still loved the photo someone posted on Reddit of him, Patrick Stewart, Simon Pegg and Shazad Latif all together at an event! The Trek family only gets bigger! :)

Phil

If you don’t want to discuss potential future work on a Trek project, just tell everyone you’re done. Simple, really, and it’s obvious you’re not hurting for work…

Tiger2

It could be he has a NDA not to talk about any future work with DIS IF he is coming back in the future. We all know by now they love to play it very close to the chest. They literally created a fake actor just so we wouldn’t know another actor was playing two different roles.

I’m not saying he IS coming back, but anything is possible and my guess there have certainly been discussions considering how popular his character ended up being.

EDIT: Rereading your post, actually I get what you mean now. Just say you’re not coming back because if you aren’t, you’re telling the truth. But if you are, its a great surprise. I have to agree now lol.

BorgKlingon

Yep regarding the NDA.

And I am saying he’s coming back — in a future season. And he probably has something in his contract that would support such an option.

Tiger2

Yes I have a feeling he will probably be back too. Maybe not back full time but certainly an appearance or a recurring role like Michelle Yeoh is doing.

BorgKlingon

Yea, and in contrast to what another poster is suggesting here, I think that when we see Prime Lorca finally, the guy will have been through the ringer, possibly damaged, and will be a very interesting and possibly conflicted character…certainly not a boring boy scout.

They are not going to bring in Prime Lorca as boring straight arrow.

ML31

Except it was not Evil Lorca that was popular. It was the morally ambiguous captain that was popular and interesting. The bulk of that popularity seems to have been thrown out the window when the truth was revealed. “Good” Lorca will undoubtedly NOT be interesting. And why I personally have no interest in seeing Lorca as a boy scout. He was interesting when he thought it was prime. Now, just the opposite. STD needs more INTERESTING characters. They have enough dull ones.

Tiger2

I hear you but I still think even prime Lorca could be a prick lol. What I mean is Admiral Cromwell knew the original Lorca (sleeping with him and all) and she didn’t seem to notice any big differences between the two. She seem like she accepted his hard nose, cut all corners to win the war persona so my guess is Prime Lorca probably was a bit more hardened.

Maybe when he sold her out to the Klingons she might’ve caught on he was more nuts than usual lol.

ML31

Did she know PU Lorca? I don’t recall. I think it made more sense that she didn’t as it seems reasonable that if she knew him long enough then she certainly would be the one to see something was off. Anyway, if MU Lorca is super similar to PU Lorca then that right there is yet another element to heap on the “STD Producers either don’t really know or just decided to ignore the source material.” So bringing back Lorca in any capacity truly is a lose-lose situation. Best to avoid it altogether.

BorgKlingon

NDA, obviously

ryan

Im sorry but I dont think the new crew understood Gene and his “vision” at all. And calling it a vision is laughable. Why on Earth do people give Gene all this credit he does not deserve. He came up with Trek. TOS was his baby, the rest of Trek hasn’t been since season two of TNG. IDK maybe I have listened to too many panels at cons, but I never got this impression that the people working on the show thought of Trek as some “holy vassal” of anything. It was a job that a few of them didn’t even want. And most of them still think the fans are nuts, great people, but nuts. What do I know though. Discovery is a fine show. It doesn’t come close to being prime, but thats fine.

Tiger2

I have to agree Ryan,

The Roddenberry love gets WAY too much at times, when the overwhelming majority of Star Trek has honestly come from other people and some of the best work he personally had issues with.

That said I don’t want to start up a thirty post thread of name calling so I will say of course he started it all and for that will always get a lot of credit. He did have a vision of how he saw the world in the future as being more inclusive and progressive. We certainly wouldn’t have those other shows and films today if he wasn’t the one to spearhead the original idea. But I think so many others took what he did and made it better, especially TNG without a doubt.

DeanH

To understand Roddenberry’s vision, I think it is best to look at The Cage – the pilot that was rejected by the network execs. The optimistic view that mankind would survive and thrive long enough for interstellar travel, working alongside aliens with women capable of command roles on board a starship – and stories that were thought provoking. Later on TOS, he added a multicultural crew and from that point onward, it was really others who created new shows and movies while building up the lore that makes up today’s Trek universe. That said, Roddenberry was the one to start it all back in 1964.

Tiger2

Agreed. He got the ball rolling for sure but its been in other hands for a very long time now, even when he was still alive other people were running both TNG and the movies.

But his vision is what started it all and during a time when there were people DIDN’T want to see the world the way he did. And there are still some today but thankfully less so.

ML31

” But I think so many others took what he did and made it better,”

And especially most of the feature films.”

Even TOS got better the less direct control he had.

TonyD

Even during the original run of TOS, other people (Gene Coon and Robert Justman especially) came up with a lot of the formative ideas and concepts that helped define Star Trek. It’s no different than Bob Kane coming up with the idea of Batman but Bill Finger being the one to actually contribute even more to his iconic appearance.

Still, that original vision of diverse people working together for a better future was there from the start and without his laying out the basic template, nothing that came after would have existed.

BorgKlingon

@TonyD

Exactly!

BorgKlingon

He came up with TOS, the first movie and TNG. It was his vision, FACT! Nothing laughable about it.

Now, in terms of planning and executing the vision, many others played key roles that made Star Trek great, and in many cases Gene was a hindrance in this “delivery” part of the franchise.

But there is no way you get to say it’s “laughable” that Trek was Gene’s vision. You saying that is laughable; no offense.

albatrosity

I truly love this man as an actor and just as a person with interesting things to say. I hope he stays involved with Trek for a long time.

Alan

Best comment of all. Jason Isaacs is the best.