EXCLUSIVE: ‘Star Trek: Discovery’s Jason Isaacs on Captain Lorca’s Debut and His ‘Subtle’ Shatner Tribute

EXCLUSIVE:'Star Trek: Discovery's Jason Isaacs on Captain Lorca’s Debut and His'Subtle' Shatner Tribute

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At the end of the episode, Lorca has the creature from the USS Glenn — the one that was terrorizing Michael and company — secretly beamed aboard the Discovery into one of his secret rooms with other contraband objects and creatures. What is he doing with all those things that he’s, presumably, illegally accumulated?

He’s got a room, a study room in which he studies war because they’re at war. In different times, he might have books of poetry, he might have an easel in there. He’s an exercise man, so at one point in time he might have been doing interplanetary yoga. Right now, he needs to work out how to defeat enemies and he’s got forbidden material in there. He’s got weapons, he’s got poisons, he’s got creatures. He’s looking for an edge in a war with a superior opponent and he’ll take anything he can get, anywhere he can get it. Sometimes he takes risks to get it.

What is Lorca’s relationship with the women on the Discovery crew, because it seemed like there was something a little extra between the captain and Commander Landry, his head of security?

I think in this tradition of Star Trek captains and these alpha males who rise to the top, he’s got a taste for the good life and he’s got an eye for his female officers. I don’t know that that’s going to work with Burnham very well, frankly. She doesn’t look like she’s up for that kind of thing, but him and Landry certainly have a relationship that goes beyond, I would think, work. But that’s how I played my scenes with all the women on board, whether or not the writers were on board with that. By the way, that’s my tribute to Shatner. I always thought, as much as the original series was born out of the civil rights struggle and the birth of feminism, some of that was [infused with a feeling of] James Bond. It was clear Captain Kirk had his way with any member of the micro-skirted crew members he wanted, so that was my subtle tribute to him. I’m playing that, even if it’s inside my head. (Laughs.)

In your mind, what do the Klingons represent in Star Trek: Discovery

People are trying to draw very clear parallels from the Klingons and how they are with each other, and how we are with them. If there was a simple political message to be made, then that’s what we’d do. We’d be producing bumper stickers and fridge magnets. Instead, we’ve got a 15-hour story and nothing is too on the nose. Good storytelling allows people from different walks of life to go, “Ah, they’re talking about me,” or “They’re talking about this situation.” I think what you definitely get are characters who were relatively one-dimensional enemies before in Star Trek and you see them fleshed out and you see they themselves have their own struggles and are trying to navigate their own ethical universe, as different as it is. In keeping with all of the rest of the sophisticated storytelling that audiences respond to so well on television today and charts how things have changed over the years, even our enemies and even the people who think in war-like, aggressive fashion are explored so we understand their point of view. They’re definitely about domination and they’re definitely about aggression. Some of the language does echo language that you hear in modern-day politics, but none of is meant to be too on-the-nose or direct parallels.

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