At last! After months of rumors and speculation, the team behind ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ has made the series’ first casting announcements. Not only that, but the announcements are accompanied by brief descriptions of each actor’s character. These announcements are especially welcome given the general scarcity of new information over the last several months. Barring the announcement of the series’ delay from its original January launch date, the last announcement of this scale was the reveal of the Discovery herself back in July.
First up, we have Michelle Yeoh, who is perhaps best known for her roles in ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ and ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’. Her casting had been heavily rumored over the past week or so, but today’s announcement serves as official confirmation of her involvement. She has been cast as Captain Georgiou, and interestingly, while the rumors indicated that Yeoh had been cast as “the captain”, it now seems she may simply have been cast as “a captain”. According to information, she commands the starship Shenzhou, which is notably not the Discovery. (In real life, the Shenzou program refers to a series of spacecraft operated by the Chinese government, comparable to the Russian Soyuz craft. Commonly translated as “divine vessel” or some variation thereof, “shenzhou” is also an ancient name for China itself, which in that context is commonly translated as “divine state”.) This could have any number of implications for her presence on the show. Will she be a recurring guest star? A lead who transfers from the Shenzhou to the Discovery, perhaps in the course of the pilot episode? As Mr. Spock might say, “there are always possibilities”.
Next we have Doug Jones, a genre veteran with credits as diverse as ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’. Jones will be playing Lt. Saru, a science officer and a member of an unspecified alien species. Given Jones’ famed facility with makeup (watch ‘Hellboy’ for a taste of that), this is particularly exciting. While Saru’s species has not been named, it has been confirmed that they are a new addition to the ‘Star Trek’ universe (this is hardly without precedent, as ‘Enterprise’ didn’t name Dr. Phlox’s species – on screen, at least – until well into that show’s first season).
And finally, that brings us to Anthony Rapp. Rapp, who is arguably best known for his stage work (which includes the likes of ‘Rent’), but also films such as ‘A Beautiful Mind’, will join the crew of the Discovery as Lt. Stamets. Like Saru, Stamets is also being described as a science officer. As with Captain Georgiou, this begs the question of whether this is meant as “the science officer” or “a science officer” and which is which. Of course, with the show supposedly set to focus on a character thus far known only as Number One, who the writers and producers have made a point of noting is not the captain, that also opens the possibility of the show taking an approach reminiscent of the ‘Next Generation’ episode ‘Lower Decks’, which focused on a group of junior officers in contrast to the show’s typical focus on the senior staff.
The pilot episode of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ will premiere on CBS on an unspecified date in May 2017. After this, the show will move to the CBS All Access streaming service for all subsequent episodes, which will be available on Netflix in certain territories. Be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more on ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ as it becomes available.