After Anson Mount, Star Trek: Discovery’s captain for the second season, held a solo panel at Star Trek Las Vegas (see earlier report), he was joined on stage by the first season captain, Jason Isaacs. The pair had fun comparing experiences and bonding over costume tightness. Isaacs also took some time to talk about his experience in season one and how he hopes there is more Lorca to come.
Isaacs ready to return to Star Trek any way, any how
In the first season of Star Trek: Discovery, the USS Discovery was led by Captain Gabriel Lorca, a no-nonsense leader who pushed the crew to their limit in the Klingon War and then into the Mirror Universe, which turned out to be his true home—and alas, that was where he met a grisly and fatal fate. At Star Trek Las Vegas, Isaacs talked about how he went into the job knowing the full story of Lorca’s one-season arc, but by the end, he was already feeling the loss:
I knew going in that I was doing just one season…It felt like a great thing to do and I felt fine about it, but as I got close to everyone and close to and understood the significance of Star Trek and the brilliant storytelling and what it means in the world, I felt the loss of that.
During the Q&A section of his time on stage, Isaacs was asked straight up if he would return to Star Trek as Lorca. The sardonic English actor started with a bit of mischief:
How do you know I am not already? [grin] Of course I would do it. I loved it!
Later Isaacs said that he has actually talked to producers about returning to Star Trek:
So, I have talked to them plenty. Where and when? Nobody ever dies. There is a Prime Lorca. There are three different shows coming out and multiple seasons, and if I can squeeze back into that eight year-old’s uniform, would do. Who wouldn’t want to do it again? They are timeless stories.
The Mirror Lorca in charge of the Discovery had replaced ‘Prime’ Lorca, whose ship was thrown into the Mirror Universe in the middle of a battle. It’s plausible Prime Lorca survived and could pop back into his home universe in the 23rd century. Add a bit of time travel and in theory, he could show up on Discovery or even Picard. Isaacs’ mention of different shows and different seasons shows he is aware it may be easier to slot Lorca into some shows more than others, possibly Short Treks or maybe the Section 31 series, which will presumably be set in the 23rd century.
As for how he sees Prime Lorca, Isaacs says he may not be that different than the Mirror Lorca he played in season one:
The point about the Mirror world that we built is it wasn’t meant to be how it was in “Mirror, Mirror.” This was meant to be a Darwinian universe, just with a different political attitude that the strong should rule the weak. I don’t think he would be that many miles away from Prime Lorca. It wasn’t a coincidence that I sneaked the line in: “Let’s make the Empire glorious again.” It’s about a different political attitude…I think Prime Lorca would be pretty much the same.
Why being in Star Trek matters, and why he was afraid of the chair
Isaacs has talked in the past about how he was a Star Trek fan from a young age, watching The Original Series with his family. The veteran actor has had steady work for decades, but sees Star Trek as something special, especially now:
There is such divisiveness going on in the world, and then there is this story and this world that has been around for decades that continues to posit and hold up some notion of how we are better and we can do better and we need to do better. I was hoping we can honor that and celebrate that and be something beyond distracting you with the fabulous effects and lovely acting and the emotional presence of stuff, and actually gave people reason to have some hope or belief in the better power of human nature.
Isaacs says that taking on the role of Lorca gave him a sense of reverence for those who came before him and made him reluctant to sit in the captain’s chair on set:
I didn’t want to sit down in the chair. I said no initially to the part and not because I had something better to do. I thought it was fabulous and I didn’t want to walk in the giant boots that had come before me and be found wanting, particularly Patrick [Stewart] and Bill Shatner. When I saw the script and saw it was different than everything that had gone before and it was a single story, I thought I could get my teeth around that as an actor. But I didn’t sit in the chair. I didn’t sit in the chair for three episodes or something. I walked up and down. My rationalization being: Lorca doesn’t want to be there, he thinks they are a bunch of idiotic hippies who got this crazy idea of equality, and he just wants to go home [to the Mirror Universe]. But really I just didn’t want to sit in the chair and have the pictures compare [to previous Star Trek captains].
This concern about being unfavorably compared to previous captains extended to his accent on the show. Isaacs confirmed when asked that he didn’t use his native accent due to Sir Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Jean-Luc Picard). He was also not able to be dissuaded from using a Southern accent:
Absolutely. I thought there’s been a definitively brilliant English captain before, why set myself up for a terrible comparison. I also thought there hadn’t been one with Southern twang before. Just before we started shooting [EP/Director] Akiva Goldsmith came to me and said we need to do a preview and “I hear a rumor you would like to do it a bit Southern, they are not crazy about that at CBS, why don’t you do one English, one Mid-Atlantic and one dealer’s choice.” [I said:] “Because Patrick Stewart was a genius, because I have flown over the Mid-Atlantic and they would sound extremely moist if they tried to speak, and because I’m doing it Southern.” And he said: “Alright, fuck it, I asked.”
Isaacs impressed with season two, jealous over ready room upgrade
The actors had high praise for each other’s work. Mount was particularly impressed with Isaacs in the 2018 film The Death of Stalin. After poking a bit of fun at Mount, Isaacs revealed how he felt about his replacement on Discovery:
I have never seen you in anything [laughs]…The fact is, I did watch. I loved the second season of Discovery, much more than the season I was in. Not because it was better or different, but I didn’t need to be self-conscious about myself in that weird costume. But I did think to myself: “let’s see how he gets on…oh he’s really fucking good, so annoying.” But wait until it turns, it never turned. Just before it started people were like: “Bring back Lorca, Prime Lorca!” Then it was like: “Oh, Pike’s good, let’s have a Pike series.” You are so fickle!
Isaacs got more serious later, talking about how watching the second season made him nostalgic:
Normally when you do films or any project you are on location and some scenes you do with some people and some days you meet other actors who come in, but this is more like doing a play. It is the same people every day on the same set. It might look like we are traveling around the galaxy, but we are in a big green box in Toronto. So, you really get to know people well. I adore all the actors and I loved the fact that in the second season I got to see them all have their moments of glory and they will continue to have that. It was odd to see the show and miss my friends.
Isaacs also expressed a bit of jealousy over some of the changes in sets for the second season:
I don’t know if you noticed this, but if you were watching carefully they constructed a new thing. Alongside the bridge Lorca had a ready room, and it was a crappy little room and all the directors hated going in there, because it was nothing. You had a much better one. They were like: “let’s not do that again.”
A comedy duo in the making
Their time together on stage was the first time Jason Isaacs and Anson Mount had met in person, but they immediately showed chemistry, as well as having some fun with each other, with Isaacs clowning it up to Mount’s straight man. Jason broke the ice by bonding over the uniforms:
We have a lot of things to talk about, like how desperately uncomfortable that uniform is. It’s been a year and my balls have just dropped.
Isaacs revealed he stole his Star Trek: Discovery costume, saying he regretted not keeping any of his costumes from his time with the Harry Potter franchise. He joked he only uses his Starfleet uniform for “special nights.”
Isaacs had the crowd laughing most of his time on stage, with exchanges like this:
Fan question: If you could were flown far into the future like Discovery now is, and you could bring one person with you, who would it be and why?
Anson Mount: My wife.
Jason Isaacs: I’d bring Anson’s wife.
And when asked who would win in a fight between Lorca and Pike, Isaacs had some thoughts:
Well, Lorca would fight dirty, that is the thing. Pike is a very virtuous – I would say quasi-Mormon-like captain…There is nothing wrong with being “The Osmonds” of Starfleet. But, there is no Queensberry Rules with Lorca. Clearly, Anson could take me with his little finger, but Lorca would fight very dirty.
More STLV to come
The TrekMovie team was in Las Vegas to bring you all the news, so check back soon for more articles from the convention. Check out all of our coverage on STLV.