Interview: Mary Chieffo Talks Changes Made To Klingons In ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season Two

On Sunday the cast and creatives from Star Trek: Discovery held a panel at PaleyFest Los Angeles (see our recap). While there, TrekMovie had a chance to talk with actress Mary Chieffo (L’Rell) about the changes the Klingons are going through in the second season of Star Trek: Discovery. 

Can you confirm your return in one or two episodes in season 2?

I can confirm you will see me again.

Just once?

[Speaks Klingon] I will not reveal military secrets, every time. [laughs]

Mary Chieffo in “Point of Light”

In “Point of Light,” we saw a lot of changes for the Klingons both physically and in their society. Can you talk us through how you felt about these changes, and if it changed how you play L’Rell?

I really appreciated how I really got to explore a softer side to L’Rell, the metaphor of her literally and metaphorically letting her hair down. Within the episode, you got to see a little more into her world. I really appreciated the aesthetic change as Chancellor. That’s pretty much one of my favorite things, because I am a six-foot-tall curvaceous woman and Gersha [Phillips] and her team were designing these couture outfits for me. That was such a thrill to see the process of them building that and making it functional. I say Ginger Rogers talked about doing everything backwards in heels and I was doing everything backwards in heels with two swords and prosthetics. So, it’s been a really fun challenge and I think it has taken everything up to 11.

As an actor was it easier for you to work mostly in English, or did that give you more distance from being Klingon?

The speaking in English and speaking in Klingon is something where we celebrate both as the actors. It’s really great to dive in and work really hard and get that Klingon done. But I will say I think we all felt a certain relief to really be able to engage with each other faster. Ken [Mitchell] and Shazad [Latif] and I are really close and we love to hang out. I joke that that episode was like Klingon Summer Camp, because we were there for practically a month, because of fittings and everything. We were all staying at the same place and we would run lines and there was a more playful aspect to how we rehearsed as opposed to having to be so disciplined in hitting every [Klingon sound]. Obviously, we worked really hard last season and are really proud of all of the Klingon that we spoke, but I think the liberty of being able to go to that next level as actors was really fun.

Changes in L’Rell’s look from season one to season two

And have the changes in the makeup changed your interpretation of the character?

Yeah, I think she is becoming closer and closer to my face. But still very different. But I think it just reminded me, what I have always found to be true is that her heart and her soul are very akin to mine, it is just her external circumstances have shaped who she is. So, it was just a good reminder for me to really let L’Rell have elements of my vulnerabilities and my heart.

Do you expect to be back for season three?

I’d like to be. [laughs]

Watch the full video interview with Mary Chieffo

More from PaleyFest LA

This is our final report from PaleyFest Los Angeles. In case you missed it, click here to see our previous reports and interviews from PaleyFest.

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

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I’m starting to get used to the new Klingons. Season 1 ruined the Klingons but season 2 made them better. I don’t want Klingons to dominate season 3. New Star Trek races like Romulans, Borg, Andorians, Bajorians, Cardassians for season 3.

Can’t use Romulans if you see what they look like. Unless they want to change canon yet again.

ML31 the writers can retcon canon and put in the Romulans anyway. I’m sick and tired of Klingons.

You can just have the Romulans stirring up trouble with the Klingons but not directly interacting with any of the Federation characters. We know there was some sort of alliance or agreement between the Klingons and Romulans by the TOS era. Wouldn’t be surprising if there were still some traditionalist Klingons unhappy with a female chancellor and turning to the Romulans for help.

We need more Mother. Romulans are boring.

ML31 Enterprise used Romulans and they didn’t break canon.

But no one directly saw a Romulan and we were before the Earth Romulan War with Enterprise.

The first modern contact in over 100 years was made by the Enterprise nearly a decade after Discovery’s current season.

That’s true. They knew there could be no visual contact. My comment was that you cannot use the Romulans if they are seen. Unless no one cares if canon is broken. That means that they can be used if we don’t see a Romulan. Just a ship and perhaps a voice. Nothing more.

Yet again? Double check your assumptions about canon concerning the 2250s.
But you are correct, the Romulan/Vulcan association is not common knowledge among Star Fleet personnel for ten more years or so.

Yes. Yet again. There are other places where they have ignored canon. So if they opt to ignore the Romulan thing it would not be surprising.

No to the Romulans at this point. And a big hell no to Bajorans , Cardassians and Borg.

Perhaps it’s a mite early for Romulans and especially Cardassians to show up…

The Section 31 show is probably a back door to be able to interact with Romulans, Cardassians, Ferengi etc, as everything they do is classified, no one will know about it

If they don’t do an episode titled “Keeping Up With The Cardassians”, then they don’t know their demographic!

The season 1/season 2 comparison photo shows just how far the makeup people pulled back on the makeup. It goes beyond just adding hair, all the facial features have been softened.

I like L’Rell and the actress who plays her. Be a shame if another season past with her not being utilised properly.

Her role is like a car crash in slowmotion, just like STD is

Username doesn’t check out, begone Troll

Spoken like someone who doesn’t watch the show.

I’m not crazy about many aspects of Discovery myself but that is just a plainly dumb thing to say.

‘I’d like to be’ suggests no, she won’t. Same kinda code talk we hear from the Kelvin cast.

Personally, I’m not crazy about the season 2 capitulations. It irks me that they gave in to a few vocal fans who desperately wanted to see TNG Klingons again.

The TOS Klingons were just guys with brown makeup and fake eyebrows/goatees — and there have been widely-varying iterations since. The long hair didn’t start until more than 20 years after they were first introduced.

And I don’t really get this character. I think Chieffo did a great job with what she had on the page (the accent still confuses me a little – I guess klingons-with-accents was partially to keep the Voq mystery going) but there’s not much there there.

And no – we don’t need to see the Bajorans or Cardassians. Can’t we have new things?

I think a mix of new and old is good.

The TNG Klingons have been around since 1984. And Klingons have had hair since 1967. I don’t think people are upset against change so much as it was a totally drastic one and actually went against canon since Klingon hair has an importance in Klingon culture.

I said this before but if they showed just one Klingon who looked a bit similar from the TOS movies or other shows I think people would’ve been fine with the new guys too. At least a little bit.

What canon established that Klingons never cut their hair??? You guys can’t be canon Nazis if you can’t even use the word correctly.

Never said canon established they never cut their hair, I said that hair was important. Those are two distinct differences. And NOTICE my statement literally said having bald Klingons are fine, the issue was they showed NO Klingons at all with hair which is where it totally went against canon (this is how logic works).

And lastly season one had NOTHING to do with cutting their hair, they were simply BALD, period. They weren’t physically meant to have hair at all. They only changed it in season 2 to find an excuse to give them hair and used why they didn’t have it in season one.

The cutting the hair thing is nothing more than spin they created for this season and you clearly fell for it.

Fans complain they aren’t listened to in Season 1. When they ARE listened to in Season 2…. they complain about being listened to. Kurtzman & Co. cannot win.

The strognest ambassador to the Discovery series in my opinion. She better be brought back for season 3. You can tell she loves the role and the show.

My favorite character of the series.

RockoandSocko I totally agree that Mary Chieffo has been a fantastic ambassador for the series.

She has an infectious enthusiasm.

It wouldn’t be going to far to say that her twitter played a major role in convincing me to give Discovery a try.

So, if her role in Discovery may be coming to a close depending on where and when the ship will be in season 3…

I hope that Kurtzman will find a place for her in another Trek series.

It need not be as a Klingon in fact.

It would be great to see a tall strong human woman in a significant role for a change. Trek tends to cast short women as human for whatever reason.

Having Sarah Mitich return as the human Lt. Nillson is exceptional, but we don’t expect to hear much from her as bridge crew.

i did not realize the ridging is not quite as intense this time around until is saw the two pictures side by side.

CBS should just produce a Klingon show if they think people are so hot for it. Personally I don’t think another storyline needs to be shoehorned into DSC.

I would watch the shit out of an all-Klingon show. That is all.

Please no more Klingons! I didn’t want them in DIS since the series was announced and seeing their interpretation in action didn’t change my mind at all. DIS Klingons are actually even worse than TNG/DS9 Klingons. Something I hardly thought possible to achieve before. Just forget that they exist. It would be for the best.

New Worlds and New Civilisations. PLEASE, leave the Klingons alone for a LONG while now – they’ve more than had their limelight throughout all iterations of the series AND films. It really is high time to stop relying on them, and push forwards instead! (and I love Klingons, but come on writers, enough is enough!)…

As a big Klingon fan, I am also glad they are not on the show that much this season so far. They are over-used. I think it would be cool to some other aliens we have not seen much of, like maybe the Tellarites. It’d be cool if there was a little Federation-Tellarite skirmish or something.