New ‘Discovery’ Villain Actor Talks “Pure Adventure” And Star Trek Callbacks In Season 5

The fifth and final season of Star Trek: Discovery debuts on Paramount+ in April with a mystery that sends the Disco crew on an “epic adventure across the galaxy.” Opposing them in this hunt is a pair of new unsavory characters, including an alien named L’ak played by Elias Toufexis. As the season approaches, Toufexis is talking about what to expect from his villain and season 5.

A bad guys romance and Trek lore callbacks for season 5

Canadian actor Elias Toufexis is no stranger to genre and space; he’s had recurring roles in TV series like The Alphas, Bitten, and The Expanse. He also has an extensive voice career that includes a lead role in one of the biggest games of 2023, Starfield, as well as working on Star Trek: Resurgence. He is a big Star Trek fan, as he explains in a new interview with TrekCulture on YouTube, which led to his successfully lobby for a role in the first season of Star Trek: Discovery. He was worried that one-off character would be the end of his Trek TV career, so he was very thankful a few years later when a casting director reached out to say they were looking for what he described as the “main antagonists” for season 5, likening Moll and L’ak to Bonnie and Clyde. As a kid, Toufexis and his friends would make their own Star Trek episodes, which is why he was so excited to land this second chance at Discovery:

“It was literally a dream come true. I’m a badass bad guy on Star Trek. I’m shooting phasers. I have my own ship. I’m getting in fights and phaser fights and all sorts of crazy cool stuff… I can’t believe I’m doing this.”

Elias Toufexis as L’ak and Eve Harlow as Moll (Paramount+)

He described how Moll and L’ak fit into the new more adventurous and “fun” tone of season 5, noting L’ak is not just an evil villain:

“L’ak is not the Joker. He’s not crazy. He’s very stoic and tough. He’s not big and crazy. This is not just a bad guy that is evil throughout. They go into why he’s doing what he’s doing and Moll too and why they love each other and how they fall in love. All that stuff, at least in my case, I played it completely genuine. It’s a genuine love they have for each other and they just want to do what they’re going to do and they want the Federation off their tail. That’s what the story is about from our point of view. So there are there’s so many moments of love and romance and also moments of fear and doubt. And so it’s not just him being angry all the time and evil… They’re both layered characters. And they really get into that as the season goes forward. With sacrifices and battles and fights and love true love! That’s what the season is for Moll and L’ak. It’s all that kind of fun, great romance. But they still do bad things and have to justify why they’re doing those bad things… It’s a whole layered thing. It was really, really fun to to play.”

Toufexis also indicated the new season will have some big tie-ins to Trek lore:

“One thing I really love… there are two really big callbacks to previous shows, in terms of the storyline. So as a fan I was like, ‘Oh, I love this!’ They were showing me the script and I was like, ‘Oh, you are bringing that back!’… So just as a fan, I was really excited about that. I am not just saying this because I am in it, I feel like this season is so much fun.”

Earlier this month, the synopsis for the first episode (titled “Red Directive”) was revealed, and it indicated the hunt for a “hidden artifact” starts on an 800-year-old Romulan vessel, which ties the show into the Star Trek: The Next Generation era. When the season starts (as seen in the clip below from SDCC 2023), the ship is where Captain Burnham first encounters L’ak and Moll.

In his discussion with TrekCulture, the actor did his best to avoid spoilers but hinted his character could be linked to Trek lore as well:

“What my character turns out to be is huge for Star Trek. It’s like, I can’t… We’ll talk after the season airs because you are going to want to talk specifics.”

Elias Toufexis

Likens new season style to Strange New Worlds

As a fan, Toufexis is familiar with Discovery and how the show has evolved over the previous seasons. He talks about how this trend continues into season 5:

“One thing I always appreciated about [Discovery] was, ‘Let’s take these giant leaps of ideas and take these giant leaps’… Like, let’s throw it way in the future [in season 3]. Why not? And then you get all these different ships and what’s the Federation like, and all that stuff. The Burn was fascinating, whether you liked how it ended, whatever, it was a really interesting idea. And then in the fourth season, they slowed everything down and did that that kind of Star Trek The Motion Picture thing and it’s coming in and everything’s slow. And then I think they said, ‘Okay, we did the slow thing last season, so let’s go the other way this year.’ So [season 5] is pure adventure from episode 1 to 10.  It’s chases and battles and there’s still all the Star Trek stuff. There’s a lot.”

He also picked up on recent comments from showrunner Michelle Paradise about how the new season has a more episodic structure:

“I think they also saw how Strange New Worlds went pretty big and fun and I think they were like, ‘Let’s try that now. We’ve done this and this and this so let’s go crazy, fun too.’ There are a lot of crazy fun episodes. They are kind of splitting it, so they are doing the overarching story, but also within that overarching story there are are standalone episodes like Strange New Worlds. So the overarching story is there all the time… There are a couple of episodes that I am not in that are just a standalone really cool adventure episode. They do that and then by the end of the episode there is a little button with me or something like that and then the next episode is all about me. I think they are really finding a good balance this season.”

There is more from Elias Toufexis about his Trek fandom, dealing with the prosthetics, his first time appearing on Discovery (as a different character) in season 1, and more at TrekCulture.

Season 5 arrives in April

We are still waiting for Paramount+ to set a specific premiere date for Discovery season 5. We will certainly know that and more when the season premiere is previewed at SXSW in March. You can see L’ak and Moll right at the top of the SDCC sneak peek of the first five minutes of the season (released at SDCC 2023).

L’ak and Moll can also be seen in the trailer released at NYCC 2022…


Keep up with news for the Star Trek Universe at TrekMovie.com.

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Every time I see L´ak I see Saru. He is definitely not a Kelpian, but looks like Saru.

I’m grateful for the makeup – without it he looks too much like an ex of mine.

But imagine if your X looked like him in makeup! ;-))

I’ve always wanted to contribute to a nature documentary, just not on camera…

LOL, we’ll see. But I listened to that TrekCulture podcast and I don’t think I even heard of him until now, but he did excite me a little bit, especially when he said the story would tie in to two former Trek shows. Now we know that part of it will at least tie in to the TNG era thanks to the press release about it being tied to a 24th century Romulan ship which really excites me; but that doesn’t mean it will tie into TNG itself but probably the most obvious. It could also tie into DS9 in some way as well.

And I hope he’s right and that this season will be ‘fun’, something I rarely associate with Discovery lol. Dire, melodramatic, dark, dull, cynical and a lot of crying all comes to mind but rarely just plain fun. And I did like that he admit he hasn’t always liked DIS much in the past, so he’s not being completely biased. It still may not amount to much but I’m trying very very hard to get motivated about the season.

I just have no hope in this show ever being very good but this obviously the time to prove me wrong. ;)

I kinda wonder if this ties into “The Chase”. I’m always wrong about these things.

Me too man…me too lol. I stopped making theories about all these shows years ago since I’m always wrong (and DIS writers loves to go as left field as possible to the point it comes off nonsensical). But that said, the Romulans were involved in that episode as well so who knows? And that would be a great and fun episode to follow up on.

I always tie in “The Chase” to the TOS ep where Spock talked about the Preservers. So if that is true and this is what this season is about then this could go back to the very beginning of Trek

I would actually like to see that. “The Chase” wasn’t bad as it was, but such a high-concept story, more deftly executed, could have remembered up there with TMP or BOBW or what not. It was rushed deserved a two- or three-parter.

I love The Chase. It would be amazing if the season was based on that episode which is why I know it won’t be lol.

BTW, he also mentioned in the interview how surprised everyone was that DIS got cancelled and most thought it would go at least 1-2 more seasons. I guess I can understand that but I think the writing was on the wall for awhile once Paramount got into the shape it was in and streaming wasn’t the goldmine the studios were expecting. I also think taking off of Netflix was another bad decision that only doomed it faster.

DIS probably just cost too much and the ratings were falling every season to justify it. It does sound like it will have a decent wrap up. But I wouldn’t be too surprised it ended with Riker turning off the holodeck with Troi from the Enterprise G. ;)

Paramount wastes so much money on ridiculous things while being known for having one of the stingier movie studios (and CBS is pinching pennies too). Kudos for believing in Disco enough to buy back international rights for their overseas streaming launches, but I agree that probably helped doomed the show. No matter how well it did, that’s a huge outlay of cash they surely couldn’t afford. They were just too late to jump on the “all-in on streaming” bandwagon. They should have kept to an “arms trader” approach like Sony, and farmed out more content to other streamers, used that cash to judiciously fund their own service. A lot of what’s on P+ doesn’t need to be exclusive to it, and very few of its originals outside of Taylor Sheridan and Star Trek made much noise anyway.

Probably shoulda kept those Yellowstone rights, though.

Have to agree with all of this. And I was originally one of the people that thought Paramount+ was going to be at least competitive once it became a real site and not the sad joke known as CBS ALL ACESS that was geared to mostly 50+ year olds lol. I still think it’s a good site but yeah it was just too little too late sadly.

And I also thought it would be a good idea that they had DIS abroad as well but that turned out to be a huge mistake because P+ has barely made a dent overseas and we all know Trek isn’t very popular outside of a few key western countries anyway. I think looking at it now, it probably was better to keep on Netflix, besides the money they were getting from it, but also since more people will be watching and it’s easier to get people to give it a chance on a site they already have; especially since Netflix still dominates the international market. I think why Prodigy will benefit so much more now as we saw when it first launched there.

In fact, if P+ does end up shutting down in a few years, it probably would be smart to license it to Netflix full time. And we will probably get shows like Legacy as well but this is for another thread. ;D

…(mistake)

I am still astonished that Showtime and Paramount, CBS and Nickelodeon never joined together as one, even if there were different subscriptions at different tiers.

I realize those are at least four different income/IP streams but I would have guessed that Paramount could have figured out a way not to compete with Netflix and Amazon, HBO.

In my imagination, like Disney having Marvel, National Geographic, Star Wars, etc.

I guess this is so they can still be individual enough to sell as individual parts.

I am talking myself out of this deal….!

“I am still astonished that Showtime and Paramount, CBS and Nickelodeon never joined together as one, even if there were different subscriptions at different tiers.”

But haven’t they basically done that now though? It’s now called Paramount+ with Showtime. (amazing name btw) with all the CBS and Nickelodeon shows there. We see how much that has made a difference. It’s all basically together as you said. They even have BET and MTV as well.

Showtime literally has no more individual app. It’s now defunct. You have to get P+ to watch those movies/shows.

I thought we were just getting tastes of the channels, not the full menu! That actually explains a few things they did right, but didn’t credit themselves for in public as a selling point. Or they did and it went over my head.

All of Showtime is there for sure and made a big deal about it they were merging the two kind of like how Disney and Hulu will merge this year. As I said, Showtime no longer has a separate service anymore. They gone all in with P+, but the movie channels still exist on cable.

Maybe with Nickelodeon though it’s just certain programming. That’s how it is with MTV and BET I think too.

It will be interesting to see what happens with all the Max and P+ M&A rumours. If they end up merging, they would form the 3rd largest streaming service, leapfrogging over Disney+. Of course, Netflix and Amazon are light years ahead, but MaxP+ would be a player.
I have no idea how that would affect the Star Trek franchise, but one MIGHT assume that would be good for potential new shows. We shall see what happens!

They should get the Criterion Channel and Philo (which HBO partly owns) on board as well with this new channel.

Pretty soon, there will be like 5 massive channels, each costing a lot more than now, and it will be just like before cord cutting when you had to pay for either one of the three big cable companies or one of the two satellite TV providers…and so much for the move to cord cutting then.

Yeah, when I first switched to Comcast basic cable way back in 2015, streaming services were averaging about $5-$10 per month max. That made the decision to move away from premium cable very easy.

Now that I am back in Toronto, I am still using premium cable (mainly because CTV Sci-Fi channel is the home to Star Trek and Stargate), but also because most streaming services are now $10+ per month – it simply makes more economic sense to stick with premium cable instead of cutting the cord.

Yeah definitely. I don’t have a clue how it will affect Star Trek obviously but I would assume they would consider it an important enough IP to keep it going in some fashion. It’s not the behemoth it was in the 90s (especially the merchandising back then) but I’m guessing they will always make new content with it no matter who buys it. In what form is the real question I guess but I don’t see it falling on the back burner either.

The Boston Consulting Group “rule of three” (i.e., that competition in a given sector tends to gravitate towards three competitors) does come to mind: Amazon, Disney, Netflix.

That company seems like it has an interesting history!

Media analysts (that I read) are questioning whether even the companies we think are large now are really able to compete globally in the long run.

People who are running the 80 or so companies in Paramount’s range are struggling to decide whether they go bigger. Paramount seems like it has decided that they are at the edge of what they can do with what they own. It’s weird to think they so very big, but are still, relatively, boutique.

I mean, was just thinking about how much I really appreciate CBS News, and how they handle the news in a sober way. Wouldn’t it be nice if CBS News were a real competitor for other live 24-hour networks that are making people crazy? Without changing their style?

No, because the way consolidation works is that once consolidation is completed, prices go up much more quickly by those left standing since the consumer now has limited options.

The less people who can view Discovery is only a positive for their mental health brother!

I tease because I love.

In all seriousness, the worst thing Paramount probably did other than actually making Discovery was taking it off of Netflix. I still think it was getting cancelled but it probably lost tons of viewers who did watch it abroad.

My guess it would have at least received a sixth and proper final season if they hadn’t taken it away from Netflix.

Certainly possible my friend!

I remember the day it was announced and so many people were upset about it including myself. It was just an awful way how DIS fans were treated and putting it on a site no one really cares about or even has probably did it no real favors in the end.

Well they are doing a lot better than Peaco-ck, which has to trick sports fans who want to watch certain games into signing up. For example, they’ve got Halo (with a lot of buzz on S2 coming out next month), got The Se-xy Beast series coming up, the Korea-developed A Blo-ody Lucky Day action series which looks great, plus a load of original movie projects.

Yeah, people were pretty fired up about that Peacock/football situation last week. Not a good way to ingratiate yourselves with your audience, NBC. Overall I’m pretty happy with P+, though.

Better sure, but Paramount Global doesn’t have the cash reserves Comcast does. Its revenue is so heavily tied to old media advertising, it’s just not diverse enough to weather its downfall (one they helped quicken by doubling down on streaming so hard). They’ve gone from dominating the broadcast market on their own terms, to hemorrhaging money as an also-ran in streaming where the other players have more money to outlast them.

Good points.

I’m not a big fan of the new reinvented Discovery in the 32nd century, but even I wouldn’t wish for them to have the same ending as Enterprise did. That would just be mean.

LOL, true! But Frakes would probably still be up for it! ;D

Or the same start, or the same S1, or the same S2, or the same S3, or the same S4.

Not a fan of Enterprise? LOL

S1 is still tough for me to get through on rewatches, but I still enjoyed the series.

I really like Enterprise now but that finale is still the worst thing made since Threshold and Spock’s Brain combined. It really crapped over both the show and the cast.

For a lot of us the episode before it was the finale and a solid one at that. To this day I have never watched the last TOS episode where Shatner acts like a woman for an entire hour, but I’m confident it’s probably a masterpiece compared to TATV.

There was some Emmy worthy acting from Shatner in that one for the comedy category, but it wasn’t a very appropriate final episode for TOS.

Lol! I’ll take your word for it then. I have zero interest to watch that episode or most episodes of season 3 of TOS. I’ve only seen like 2 or 3 to this day.

They never said all of ENT was a holodeck program, merely the last episode.

??

Yes I am aware of that.

I am saying that the finale being a holodeck re-creation for another Star Trek show, like Tiger2 joked about, would be a mean thing to do to the cast and fans of Discovery.

Wouldn’t it be cool if for the Epilogue scenes, it showed Michael and Book several years later, with kids, and then we see a cartoon the Book and his ship’s AI created to amuse the kids…zoom in, and it’s the intro to Lower Decks! LOL

That would be funny and would play into the comedy nature of that show. I like it!

Exactly! And then we wouldn’t have to accept it as full-canon Trek as well…it’s a win win for all fans.

Suddenly I’m thinking of the ending of the second Bob Newhart show where (spoiler alert) he woke up in bed with his wife from the first show (they even recreated the first show’s set), making the entire second show a dream he was having during the first show.

So in this case the last scene would probably be Spock waking up in his bed on the Enterprise from a really weird dream (it could even be the SNW Enterprise, backdated to before the klingon war that started DISCO)

We can always hope

Taking the international streaming rights away from Netflix was a horrible decision by P+ … I don’t recall the specific number Netflix was paying (or if it was ever disclosed), but it was my understanding they were basically paying for the show. I mean P+ immediately dropped the episode count after taking it back.

As for cast and crew being surprised by the cancellation, production had already wrapped.

Yes it already wrapped but they all assumed they were going to be picked up for another season like the last four; especially since they didn’t cancel the show until much later.

I like that they seem to be adopting a similar format as DS9 with the serialized theme pieced together with some standalone episodes. It’s just too bad it took them this long to figure out the right balance and that it will be the final season.

I’m actually intrigued to see how well these standalone episodes work out and if they will be used to give more depth to some characters other than the main lead.

So G’Kar from Babylon 5 is in Star Trek…who knew?

Some Romulans, presumably.

The speckled skin tones of the G’Kar makeup were better, though. The first picture on this page literally screams “latex.”

Yeah, but much better in the second picture. Maybe just bad lighting on a still shot perhaps?

Modern Trek using callbacks to previous Trek shows? WHAT!!!??

It’s a shared universe. It’s not that big a deal.

I am usually with you on the nostalgia burnout, but I don’t *inherently* see the problem here. DS9 picked up on TNG’s storyline about Kurn, and on TOS’ trio of Klingon captains, for example, in a way that felt organic. History rolls on; why not chronicle it? As Billy Joel said, “we didn’t start the fire; it been always burning since the world’s been turning.”

The problem comes when the nostalgia is rammed down our throats nonstop, all the time. I do not see picking up on “The Chase” or whatever as being that.

As always, we’ll see how the execution goes.

You making a broad complaint without any specific knowledge? Why I never!

I hope this guy’s acting is better than his ability to articulate a point coherently and intelligently.

Jesus. I understood him perfectly fine to the point that I was hoping the interview was longer. Perhaps its your comprehension?

I’m a badass bad guy on Star Trek. I’m shooting phasers. I have my own ship. I’m getting in fights and phaser fights and all sorts of crazy cool stuff”

It’s called joy. You should try experiencing it sometime.

I’m getting a Robert Z’Dar vibe from the design of L’ak. Maybe a bit of Ron Perlman. Some Jay Leno, too.

can’t wait but i wish they would sell it back to neflix… let them go and have fun with it like prodigy.

netflix had intl rights… was paying 100 million at least… paramount ended the deal even though it was paying for the entire show’s budget, then went and cancelled disco before it even aired… and now paramount itself is for sale… it’s ridic. but season 5 sounds fun. 4 was good but too much therapy. i like him comparing to TMP

Oy… Discovery. 😐

Yeah OK, bro. We kinda heard it all before like how Paramount keeps telling us for 8 years now they are going to make another Star Trek movie or Kurtzman is really going to be fired this month… only to be let down again and again and again.

But I hope he’s right, I really do. I’m not out to hate anything or I would still hate Enterprise or Beyond.

I just have serious trust issues with Discovery. Fool me once, share on you. Fool me four seasons…

*shame*

Like how my sisters looks at me and I don’t even write for Discovery.

One thing I always appreciated about [Discovery] was, ‘Let’s take these giant leaps of ideas and take these giant leaps’

That’s a positive spin on ‘nothing’s working’, so lets change it up each season to try to get something that people actually like.

I maintain that if they’d stuck with the serious vibe of the first half of season 1, where they were trying to be GOT in space, then the show might have developed into something new and unique. Instead of the mess it became.

Blame Michelle Paradise, she has no idea what she’s doing. Apart from casting where she knows exactly what she’s doing…

The show under her is better than it was when she wasn’t there.

i approach each new season of DSC with an open mind, even though i’ve been burned twice before (not a big fan of seasons 3 and 4). so hopefully this will feel more like season 2, which is DSC’s best because its a backdoor pilot for SNW

You are not the only one…although I liked season 1 more beside its flaws. I wonder if I should avoid any news and spoilers and watch season 5 in a row once it’s over? I didn’t like the slow pacing of the overall arc and I had the impression these episodes could have been better if they had been released as a whole season at once.

We’re going to see what eight hundred years of being involved with Starfleet have done to the Klingons.

May L’ak is from the Delta Quadrant and his ancestors are actually Janeway and Paris’ lizard babies? That’d be a callback and a half!