The universe made up of Trekkies, Trekkers and science fiction fans was buzzing last week when it was revealed that Michelle Yeoh was cast in the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery series. What role would she play, the captain or the First Officer? Would she have an important role or just be in the supporting cast?
Yeoh, who has made a big impression on Hollywood with her breakthrough role in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, is a motion picture A-lister and shouldn’t be satisfied with a minor role on television.
All that excitement was tempered somewhat when we learned that that she will play Captain Han Bo, commander of the USS Shenzou (assumedly named after China’s first manned spacecraft in 2003), and not even a crew member of the titular starship Discovery.
Followup articles, however by Moviefone, revealed that producer Bryan Fuller, is taking a different story-telling tack with this latest iteration of creator Gene Roddenberry’s universe.
“I think we will be seeing lots of crews in the story,” he said. “One of the things that is exciting for me is that we are telling a ‘Star Trek’ story in a modern way. We’re telling a 13-chapter story in this first season. It’s nice to be able to dig deep into things that would have been breezed passed if we were doing episodic and had to contain a story to an episode.”
Think The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, where it takes a whole season to tell a story, jumping back and forth between a multitude of storylines. That means Yeoh’s character may yet play a significant role in at least one of storylines. It seems odd that the producers’ first cast announcement would be of a role unless they plan that Yeoh will play a major part in this version of Star Trek, which is supposed to take place 10 years before the original series starring William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.
Fuller said he would follow the tradition set by the original Star Trek, that had one of the most diverse casts when it debuted in 1966 – the final cast will be diverse, racially as well as alien-wise. “We haven’t cast her yet, so we don’t know what level of diversity she will be, but that’s forefront in our minds. We’ll probably have a few more aliens than you typically have on the show,” Fuller revealed in an interview in Entertainment.
Yet to be announced are the key roles of the captain and the first officer of the USS Discovery, The star apparently won’t be the captain but rather be a lieutenant commander,or Number One, he said. “We’ve seen six series from the captain’s point of view; to see a character from a different perspective on the starship — one who has a different dynamic relationships with a captain, with subordinates, it gave us richer context.”
Yeoh’s role is something of a first for Star Trek, as although there have been women of color playing captains and admirals before, these are usually very minor roles. Yeoh also adds some more Asian representation to Trek. There have only been three Asian main characters in the entire Star Trek franchise so far: Lt Hikaru Sulu on The Original Series, Ensign Harry Kim in Voyager, and Ensign Hoshi Sato on Enterprise.