‘Star Trek: Section 31’ Actor Teases His “Very Intense” Character, Praises “Hero” Michelle Yeoh

The next live action Star Trek release may be the Section 31 streaming movie. We still don’t know much about the project starring Michelle Yeoh, but now one of the new actors is teasing a bit about his character.

A broken soul in Section 31

James Hiroyuki Liao was one of the seven actors announced as part of the cast of Star Trek: Section 31 in January, but with no character descriptions. He is out doing publicity now for a role in the new Apple limited series Presumed Innocent and ScreenRant used the opportunity to talk about Trek. Liao was hesitant to say anything specific but did tease his character:

All I can say is that my guy is very, very intense. Without giving anything away, he’s a broken soul, and hurt people hurt people.

It sounds like Liao could be playing a bad guy, which there should be plenty of in a streaming movie about Starfleet’s infamous Section 31 organization. The film stars Academy-award-winning actress Michelle Yeoh, reprising her Discovery role as former Terran Emperor turned Section 31 operative Phillipa Georgiou. The official synopsis notes how she is tasked with protecting the United Federation of Planets,” but she “also must face the sins of her past.” Perhaps Liao’s character is related to some of those past sins.

The actor did talk about what it  was like to work with Yeoh, saying:

He’s maybe one of the greatest characters I’ve had the chance to play, and working with my hero [Michelle Yeoh] for such a long time has just been an insane time for me. I’m working with so many people that I have admired for so long. Michelle Yeoh is just everything, and I loved working with her. It was such a special cast as well. I’ve been on cloud nine. I’m so lucky.

Liao is a Juilliard-trained actor with a long resume in Hollywood. He has recently appeared in HBO’s Barry and the Hulu limited series The Dropout. He has had a recurring role in the long-running CBS series Blue Bloods and is a series regular in the upcoming AMC show Orphan Black: Echoes.

James Hiroyuki Liao as Darros in Orphan Black: Echoes (Sophie Giraud/AMC)

Besides Yeoh’s Georgiou, we do know the Section 31 movie will include a younger Rachel Garrett (Kacey Rohl), the future captain of the USS Enterprise-C from the TNG episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” indicating the streaming movie could be set in the “lost era” between the TOS movies and TNG era. The one official photo from the movie also reveals the back of the head of a new character named Dada Noe (Joe Pingue).

Michelle Yeoh as Georgiou and Joe Pingue as Dada Noe in Star Trek: Section 31 (Jan Thijs/Paramount+)

Production on the Section 31 streaming movie wrapped up in March. Paramount+ has yet to set a release date.

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

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Imagine if they also brought back Ruck as Captain Harriman from Generations…

That would be very cool for this aging Trekker.

He won’t be made admiral until Tuesday.

CmdrChris I laughed out loud!

He’d be an Admiral of course by then. Maybe in the sequel, Section 32.

Don’t worry, knowing these writers, he’ll show up, especially since he’s not developed as a character.

which means they’ll be killing him off! oh no!

back by tuesday….

The other day I wondered to myself, what will real fans hate now that Discovery is over. This is likely to be that.

There is no doubt that this movie will commit the same “sins” the first season of Discovery did, such as having more advanced technology that what was portrayed in The Original Series and, more likely than not, redesign an alien species or more like they did with the Klingons.

If S31 has:

  • awful writing
  • awful characters
  • awful pacing, plot contrivances and unearned emotion

like Discovery, then fans will dislike it, like Discovery.


And I generally liked the last season but those problems still persisted regardless.

That ending ruined what was otherwise, a fairly compelling season.

Yes. Yes indeed, Harry.

Any excuse to dump on the show, huh? That said… I’ll quite happily trash Enterprise to this day so I can’t talk!

Even season 4?

Even season 4.

Even season 4.

It’s an improvement for sure, but its still woeful imo.

The OP’s post was baiting so I can’t fault anyone for their responses beyond a lack of self-restraint. I’m disappointed the opposing POV is so narrow and unwilling to engage, but now that I see it that’s a lesson for next time.

100%. They have an opportunity to give us a fun little romp, with a minimum of canon connections. This feels like the kind of thing they can just run with at this point, and not screw it up.. even if it’s a little hammy or silly. But who knows.

Absent context, a brilliant observation. Meanwhile, with actual context, the folks who spent years taking a s**t on Discovery had pretty much decided it was garbage long before the first season aired. They also tend to be the same people who worshipped PS3, an abysmal story, but very well produced fan service. Insisting the only thing the fan base wants now is the further adventures of Nepo Jack and his TNG Guest Star Friends.

So there’s that….

No, I want Annoying Jack written off. I do want the TNG, DS9 and Voyager Guest Star Friends though.


Yes, 100%. You hit the nail on the head.

You could apply that same criteria to season 3 of TOS.

Discovery’s actual sins centered on its character work and dramatic fundamentals, which is legitimately a serious problem. I couldn’t give a toss about the things you’re talking about beyond being mildly irritated the Klingon actors could barely speak through those teeth, and I thought it was a bit unnecessary to shoehorn Burnham into Spock’s family.

No, what I had a hard time with was how Burnham’s redemption arc was messy and didn’t feel earned in season 1. Also, the tone was all over the place. The execution of the plan to go to the not-much-darker-because-Klingon-War Mirror Universe was uneven. The Klingon characters weren’t all that interesting. The decision to make the show so dark and TV-MA with gore and sexual violence was baffling. The VFX were high-end yet murky. Having all the comic relief fall on Tilly’s shoulders was a mistake as well.

It was still enjoyable by and large. There was good acting, the production values were impressive, the LGBT+ representation was aspirational (though I still question what the longterm plan was for Culber after his offing), and the show was definitely trying something bold and new. It was working against deadline headwinds and creative upheavals in seasons 1 and 2, but even with them being all over the place I still preferred what they were doing to Michelle Paradise’s vision.

But for the fact that The Original Series did a throwaway episode in which Shatner played Kirk’s brother wearing nothing more than a fake mustache glued to his upper lip, real fans would demand Kurtzman’s head on a platter for introducing Kirk’s brother in Strange New Worlds.

Likewise, but for the fact that Trek V introduced Sybok, they would be just as upset that “Spock’s brother” was at the center of a season one episode even if their familiar connection wasn’t entirely mentioned.

There was nothing wrong with Burnham being Spock’s sister. He didn’t mention her in TOS just like he didn’t mention Sybok in TOS either. And just like he didn’t say that the Vulcan ambassador was his father. He didn’t tell his crewmates anything about his family until they met them.

These have been argued to death at this point. I don’t understand why people keep bringing up Sybok as an argument to why it’s OK for Michael to be Spocks sibling when most fans hated Sybok just as much at the time. Its not like the character was beloved, people thought it was a bad idea including William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy BTW. It was Harve Bennett who pushed for the idea and it went over like a lead balloon.

But let’s double down one bad idea and do it again. Makes total sense.

The whole “Spock doesn’t talk about his family” bit has been torpedoed into oblivion ironically thanks to DIS and SNW. Spock tells anyone within earshot about his family these days. Pike knew about Burnham before he showed up on Discovery. He mentioned to Chapel about Sybok which seems to imply he will eventually show up on SNW while Kirk, Uhura and now Scotty will most likely be around. But maybe he won’t show up. But his mother already has showed up on the Enterprise along with T’Pring for his freaking engagement party. But now a few years later both will be completely forgotten and has turned continuity into more of a joke. 🙄

This entire conversation is why I hate prequels. Honestly. But this should also make clear it’s not Discovery alone with these issues. SNW is just aa bad as my opinion. But it gets less slack because people like it more.

And I have made clear I really like SNW but I’m not biased either.

The thing about Spock’s family – or any crewmember’s family – is that there is no way there are any believable surprises.

No way Kirk wouldn’t know his first officer was the son of an ambassador. No way he wouldn’t know Spock had a half brother or that his parents “adopted” a girl from Earth. No way people on Enterprise would have no idea Kirk had a brother.

In the future eveyone will know a lot about each other – unless – there is a story which explains why they don’t.

Well said, and I agree. So much of Disco and SNW seem predicated on ‘well, they made a creative decision like the ones we did in TOS.. or the movies, so that means we can do that too’. Ironically..it just shows a general lack of originality.

The Sybok revelation was eye-rolling then too, but please, by all means only focus on the one continuity thing I said was “a bit unnecessary.” You’re doing well, and not coming across as silly at all.

Um Kirk’s brother is on Strange New Worlds.

Which doesn’t bother anyone because he was previously introduced in TOS played by Shatner wearing a fake mustache.

If they had introduced him now as an entirely new character, the “real” fans would be up in arms like they were about Michael. “HOW DARE THEY SAY THAT KIRK HAS A BROTHER?!”

Again with the “real” fans comment. Dude, real fans have no issue with any of that.

I have my issues with Discovery but none are the issues you mentioned.

Well, since there are no such things as “real” fans, I’m not worried.

Thank you for that. Fans are fans.

The hate is already starting for the Academy series, so I expect full on hate once it starts. It’s like certain “fans” are in pre-hate mode.


How about we all leave the hating and the preemptive hating of hating and speculation on what haters are going to hate, and just wait for something to actually happen? Musing on what could happen in the movie or SFA makes sense, but the rest feels utterly pointless.

You’re a little late with your message… people started on the hate parade when the show was announced and have been hating on it ever since. I, for one, would rather wait and see the show first.

Me too, so there’s no point in intensifying the debate. Simply saying there’s nothing to comment on to inspire such strong feelings is more productive than twisting to get ahead of what people may or may not hate later and have limited cause to hate now. I don’t see the point of any of it until we get substantive interviews, trailers, clips and actual airings.

You’re preaching to the choir, bud. You need to tell that to the haters.

I think you have things the other way around. Real fans have enjoyed what has come after TOS and TNG. The bandwagon Trekkers have THEIR show, and anything that isn’t it, sucks. As a real fan, I love all Trek. I do love to see what different people see Trek as. I do have what I like better and what I like less… but I am happy that there is Trek still going after so long. And for the Trek that I like less… I don’t bash it over and over and over again like the bandwagon fans do.

Haters always need something to hate. They hated DS9 also before they changed their tune.

Nice to get a S31 update. Fingers crossed January 2025 at the latest.

I am VERY excited for this, not just because of the return of the Emperor (all hail!) but also as a test bed for the streaming movie model. I get the feeling if S31 rates well enough Paramount are keen to test out new ideas as streaming movie first moving forward. And the “lost era/tos movie era” is probably my favourite era aesthetically speaking and I can’t wait to see how they update it for 2024.

I’m also very excited to see how well the streaming movie model does. We might never get a Legacy series, but maybe we can get a Legacy movie. Or maybe we can get a streaming movie about other characters in the Lost Era. Bring it on!

Yeah I would be very keen for a Legacy movie in this format. And I think the runtime of a single movie vs a 10 episode season might help them consolidate what they really envision Legacy to be.

Agreed! I feel like the streaming movie model opens so many fascinating doors. A full series or a theatrical movie are arguably too big to serve as test beds or experimentation, but an ongoing “slot” in the production schedule dedicated to successive streaming films sounds like one hell of a sweeet spot in terms of trying things out as well as exploring corners theatrical films and series wouldn’t have a good chance to dedicate their time to. I’m very very excited about the possibilities of this.

Agreed. I loved the concept of Short Treks as a similar vehicle to test ideas, but ultimately I think the 15 minute runtime (or less!) doesn’t really allow enough time (or budget) to really dedicate to fleshing out these new ideas.

My thoughts exactly. I think there’s still a place for Short Treks, but non-theatrical-budgeted “Long Treks” seems like the perfect middle ground for experimentation.

I’m curious about what they’ll do for the uniforms. I know it was a cost-saving measure, but given Starfleet’s obsession with fashion, it’s always been an outlier how they didn’t change their uniforms for 70 years between TWOK and when Picard commanded the Stargazer. Who knew that in the future it will be flared pants that make the biggest comeback?

Haha well as much as flares might be back on the streets in 2024, I’m hoping that’s one part of the uniform they update haha. I’d be really happy with something along the lines of the updated monster maroon they gave Pike in the SNW season 1 finale, but I get the feeling they will likely give us a complete new uniform. I’d love if it was something that really felt like a progression from the TOS movie uniform towards the TNG jumpsuit. But yes, 70 years is definitely the longest Starfleet has gone without updating their uniforms… most times you blink and you’ve missed a new uniform update!

It’s weird, but what I’m most excited to see is the Monster Maroons, and if they go another route, I’m not going to be happy.

My favorite Star Trek uniform, but it doesn’t look as good without the turtleneck undershirt.

I did like the updated version that was shown on SNW, too.

Ya it’s weird. It’s like wearing a coat without a shirt underneath

This is how you do a AAA Star Trek game, so I’m looking forward to the movie. I always felt that you could take a premise like this and create a Mass Effect 2 style game or Jedi Fallen Order/Jedi Survivor type action adventure game by making it Section 31. You make your lead a Starfleet officer who gets recruited by Sect 31 and put together with a ragtag (small) crew on a sleek Defiant-sized ship. You could allow the lead character to be player created like most Bioware or Bethesda games. You can have options to romance some members of your crew and it would allow the crew to be all different races of the Star Trek Universe. Imagine the planets and missions you could explore and because it’s Section 31, you could easily give it the action/adventure/espionage feel without it feeling out of place if it was a traditional Starfleet crew and ship. Then, to ultimately keep it in line with Trek ideals, the overarching conflict for the lead character would be his frustration with the way Section 31 operates. The final mission would have you going against Section 31 directives kind of the way Shepard goes against Council orders at the end of Mass Effect 1. To see Trek tech in Unreal Engine 5 for a AAA action/adventure game that could stand up in quality next to some of THE top tier games of the industry. There’s gotta be a developer who can see the potential in this!

also, I don’t think Liao is playing a villain so to speak. I think what we’re going to see is that Gerogiou is going to be leading a team that will essentially be Star Trek’s Suicide Squad. Like, whatever is going on – similiar to what Trek comic books do sometimes – Section 31 needed an unconventional team and they’re going to prove that they’ll be able to come together and succeed at the mission. They’ll be anti-heroes by the end of it with the hope (of Paramount) that they can have a real spinoff on their hands to use in comics, maybe video games, etc. It has real potential for us to see another side of the Star Trek sandbox. One without Starfleet uniforms and pristine starships and having to do things by the book. Star Wars isn’t the only universe with a scifi underbelly to explore.