Throughout the 50 years of Star Trek, through all of the movies and TV series, an underrated part of the magic of the series has been its casting. It’s hard to imagine the series enduring for all the decades it did, had it not nailed the casting of Kirk, Spock, Bones and the rest of the original cast, with actors who had such magical chemistry with one another.
The Trek franchise managed to strike gold yet again with the Next Generation cast, and to a lesser degree a few years later with Deep Space Nine. And while the casting success of Voyager and Enterprise was more middling, the stewards of Trek managed to hit another home run with the casting of the current run of Star Trek movies. Now, we have our first clue about the casting of the upcoming Trek TV series.
Michelle Yeoh has become the first actor cast on Star Trek: Discovery, the new Trek series that debuts next year on the streaming network CBS All Access. According to ComingSoon.net, the show’s consulting producer Nicholas Meyer — the director of Star Trek II and IV — confirmed the casting while appearing at an event commemorating his 1979 film Time After Time; Yeoh’s casting has not been officially announced.
The 54-year-old Yeoh has acted in Hong Kong-set action films since 1994, and is best known in the United States for her roles in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and the Pierce Brosnan-era James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). Not much is known about who she’ll be playing in Discovery, although the Coming Soon report states that she’s playing a “female Lieutenant Commander,” which is potentially the lead role on the series.
We don’t know anything about who will be joining Yeoh on Discovery, but the casting is off to a good start. Yeoh has shown that she’s adept at both cutting-edge action and straight acting. Appearing recently on Netflix’s Marco Polo and its Crouching Tiger sequel, she would seem a good fit for the Trek universe. It’s also worth noting that Star Trek, throughout its history, has found very few parts for characters of Asian descent who aren’t Mr. Sulu.
There are reasons to worry about Star Trek: Discovery, from the recent departure of highly regarded original showrunner Bryan Fuller to its placement on a marginal streaming service without much of a subscription footprint. But assuming the Yeoh news is true, the series is at least off to a good start with casting.
Star Trek: Discovery debuts on CBS All Access in May of 2017