Star Trek: Discovery’s Jason Isaacs On Lorca’s Wartime Mentality

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“Context Is for Kings” — Episode #103 — Episodic coverage the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Pictured (l-r): Jason Isaacs as Captain Gabriel Lorca; Sonequa Martin-Green as First Officer Michael Burnham. Photo Cr: Jan Thijs/CBS © 2017 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Star Trek: Discovery star Jason Isaacs offered fans of the new CBS All Access series a look into the mindset of his mysterious character, Captain Gabriel Lorca, at New York Comic Con 2017 on Saturday afternoon. After making his series debut in episode 3, “Context Is For Kings,” it’s not clear if Lorca will turn out to be a hero or a villain.

Isaacs did little to dispel this ambiguity when asked how Lorca differs from previous Starfleet captains. “It’s before the Federation’s Prime Directive is really embodied. We’re finding our feet as a crew, and he is a wartime captain,” Isaacs explained. “He’s surrounded by idiots on a ship that is not prepared to do the tasks it has to do. He’s trying to stop everything we know being destroyed by this enemy and, as far as he’s concerned, none of these people understand that. They don’t know what they’re doing. There’s a moron in charge of the science who would like to be running double blind tests for years instead of putting the stuff into operation tomorrow to save lives. They’re all happy-clappy hippies who need to be knocked into shape.”

In other words: don’t expect to see Lorca turn into Kirk or Picard 2.0 any time soon. “It’s not that I didn’t love and watch The Original Series, but I had no desire to be a pale shadow of any of the brilliant stuff I’d seen before me. Everything for me was constructed backwards, to not be like anyone I’d seen on Star Trek before,” Isaacs elaborated.

Clockwise from left: Anthony Rapp, Jason Isaacs, Mary Chieffo, Wilson Cruz, Doug Jones, Alex Kurtzman and Dr. Mae Jemison at the Star Trek: Discovery press conference at NYCC 2017. Photo: Player.One

A longtime TOS fan, Issacs has no qualms with Discovery’s distinctly different visual style and more sophisticated technology; continuity quibbles be damned. “Thank Godwe don’t have to watch tech that’s made out of old cereal boxes, empty toilet rolls and a Gorn that’s like… the people who blow outside the garage. It’s not just made for Trekkies, it’s for all the new people who’ve never seen [Star Trek] before.”

Note: We’re assuming this is how Isaacs imagines the TOS Gorn, unless he meant something far saucier by “people who blow outside the garage.”

While keen to emphasize what makes his character and Discovery different from what’s come before, Isaacs sees the show as very much a part of Trek’s philosophical tradition. From the actor’s perspective, inviting mutineer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) to join the Discovery crew kicks off “this amazing ethical minefield to be tiptoed around: the best of Star Trek.” He later added, “All the hot-button issues in national politics, or in global politics, are somewhere translated through the fantasy prism in our story.”

Just three episodes into its maiden season, Discovery is already prompting heated debates about politics and ethics amongst fans and critics on social media. Mostly, Issacs says, what he hears from fans is “just love and excitement and fabulously positive things.”

But there’s still cranks and trolls to contend with. “There’s the genuine fans who are skeptical, or don’t want to pay [for a CBS All Access subscription], or who are particularly obsessed with technical things — those people are very welcome,” Isaacs explained. “But there’s also a bunch of people who are upset that there’s a woman lead, or that there’s a woman of color lead, or that we’ve got a bunch of people from every gender and sexuality and stuff. Those people can go fuck themselves.”

What are you expecting to see from Captain Lorca on Discovery this season? Do you see him and Burnham bumping heads about how to handle the war with the Klingons? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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