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Kenneth Mitchell on Discovery, Kol and Becoming Klingon

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Kenneth Mitchell is ready for his closeup. sat down for a few minutes with the actor -- who plays Kol, leader of the Klingon House Kor, on Star Trek: Discovery – during Star Trek Las Vegas last month, settling into chairs in the Discovery Exhibit of costumes and props from the show. Mitchell, who sported a Next Generation tee-shirt, had appeared moments earlier in a packed, spirited STLV Discovery panel with co-stars Mary Chieffo, Sam Vartholomeos and Wilson Cruz, and during our brief conversation he seemed thrilled to at long last be able to talk about Discovery, Kol, his familiarity with the franchise – and more.

Star Trek: Discovery, Kenneth Mitchell

You’ve done a good deal of genre fare, including Odyssey 5, Jericho and Frequency. How aware were you of Star Trek before Discovery came your way?

As a kid, I watched the show a little bit. It was The Original Series, and then I watched some of The Next Generation. I probably was more familiar with those characters just because it was on at the time I was growing up. I also specifically remember watching The Wrath of Khan. That's what solidified it for me. And then being on the show, in this cast, gave me an opportunity to revisit Star Trek. I felt a responsibility to come back and revisit everything.

And you did that with another genre veteran, your friend Sam Witwer…

Sam is one of my best friends, and I recruited him. He would take me over to his house and we just went episode by episode through Star Trek. He'd sit there and educate me as I was going along. We specifically adhered to the Klingon episodes, but if there was an episode that he just thought I should watch and look at and study, he highlighted that one for me, too.

Star Trek: Discovery, Kenneth Mitchell

Give us a sense of Kol. What's the meat on the bone for you as the actor playing this powerful Klingon?

Well, he's… the leader. You first meet him in holograph form, and he's kind of an alpha Klingon amongst the house leaders, amongst the 24 house leaders. He has these disagreements and conflicts with T'Kuvma and his house, and it kind of launches that relationship throughout the rest of the season. Kol is on a bit of a path to power, and he also wants to protect his people, not only amongst the Klingon houses, but also amongst the Federation. I just really kind of clinged on to that.

No pun intended?

No pun intended.

Star Trek: Discovery, Kenneth Mitchell

Let’s talk about your elaborate Kol costume and makeup, as well as speaking in Klingon. How helpful is it for you to get into the mindset of an angry Klingon when you're in that costume long enough? You're wincing even at the mention of the costume.

No, no. (laughs). The costume is heavy and it's hot and the prosthetics are heavy and hot, but I've always been an actor that works from the inside out and the outside in. These costumes and prosthetics, when you put them on, they're like layers of your character, and the more you put on the more you start feeling like your character. Then you add in the language, this very visceral and guttural language, and it just lends itself so much to my character, being a kind of aggressive Klingon. I find the language itself is a little bit aggressive and I’ve found when I am speaking it, I kind of start moving my body a bit and using my arms and moving my neck a bit. All these layers added on to helping me create my character.

Star Trek: Discovery, Kenneth Mitchell

Did you walk into the show with a preconception of the Klingons? Did you say, "Oh, I'm going to be playing one of the villains?" Or did you know better and understand that they certainly don’t think of themselves as villains?

I kind of knew better just right from the get-go because, as I mentioned before, when I was talking with Gretchen (Berg) and Aaron (Harberts) and Bryan (Fuller) at my screen test, they were explaining to me how they were going to take a different approach to the Klingons and show a slightly different side of the Klingon world. Really, whether someone is good or bad is all about perspective, and it’s about understanding that culture. You’ll get to know the Klingons on our show, and then people can decide if we really are the villains. 

There's going to be a ton of merchandise associated with Discovery. What item are you most excited to see your likeness on?

I’d like to see Kol costumes. If I come back (to Star Trek Las Vegas) next year, it’d be exciting to see people dressed like Kol, with the fur cape. 

Star Trek: Discovery will debut September 24 on CBS All Access in the U.S. and Space Channel in Canada. The series will premiere on Netflix in the rest of the world on September 25.

Star Trek Discovery CBS All Access

Star Trek Discovery Space Channel CraveTV

Star Trek Discovery Netflix


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Was just on Facebook and there seems to be a lot of pushback about the way the Discovery Klingons look. Some acknowledge that there has been variety in Klingon looks and others seem to feel this is pushing the envelope too far. At Star Trek Las Vegas sessions, it was stated that there are, or were in this time period, 24 different Klingon houses, each, it's inferred, each a different look. There seems to be pushback over whether covering this time period is a good idea, or whether they should have gone into the future, past TNG, DS9 etc.


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Finally, the cat is out of the bag concerning these Klingons and just as many suspected had to be the case, they have good reason to look the way they do.

Klingon Sarcophagus Ship Secrets Revealed in New STAR TREK: DISCOVERY Producer Interview

For months now, we’ve seen images of the intricate sets used aboard the Klingon sarcophagus ship — one of the primary Klingon vessels used in Star Trek: Discovery — but we’ve been left to guess at the nature of the unique starship.

Today, however, in a new interview with SFX Magizine, series co-executive producer Ted Sullivan spilled some secrets about the gargantuan vessel and its meaning to the House of T’Ku

From writer Ian Berriman’s description of the ship sets, information gleaned from a press visit to the Discovery sets in Toronto:

[The] Klingon ‘sarcophagus ship’ — an enormous vessel (three times the size of its Federation counterparts — [belongs] to a 25th Klingon house that we had[n’t previously heard of. Its stepped control deck [is] devoid of the usual consoles, because these Klingons intervace with their computers directly via ornate silver masks.

Sullivan explains where this huge ship fits into the story

It’s a 200-year-old ship. This is a group of Klingons who’ve gone back to a puritan way of life. They look very different: they wear armor that’s 200 years old and they don’t have any hair.
Their commander [T’Kuvma, played by Chris Obi] runs his Klingon house – the house of T’Kuvma – by the rules of Kahless, the Klingon messiah. And he calls himself the second coming of the Klingon messiah.
In the past, Klingons have not really cared about their dead – they’re not like marines. But these Klingons are. The outside of the ship is covered in thousands of coffins. Some are 300 years old, some are just two days old.
Downstairs is the death room, where they prepare their dead; then the coffins get raised up and put on the outside

Sullivan’s reference to Klingons who “have not really cared about their dead” is something Trek directly addresses all the way back in Season 1 of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

After Klingon warrior Kunivas dies in “Heart of Glory,” the trio of living Klingons present scream out to Sto-vo-kor to announce his coming to the Klingon afterlife, but afterwards show little interest in the fallen soldier’s corpse.

CRUSHER: Is there any special arrangement you would like for the body?

KORRIS: It is only an empty shell now. Please treat it as such.

In the preview trailers for Star Trek: Discovery, we’ve seen that same ancient ritual performed by members of the House of T’Kuvma; screaming to the heavens over a fallen comrade.

However, unlike the warriors of the Next Generation era, their coffin raises through the ceremonial chamber to be mounted on the outside of the sarcophagus ship.

That certainly clears up some of the confusion that’s come from those early snippets of life aboard the Klingon sarcophagus ship; the floating casket seems to have no relation to the Torchbearer armor-wearing warrior we see fighting Burnham – and the editing of such video clips was simple misdirection.

…we think.


I an live with everything stated here

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