DISCOVERY’s Michelle Yeoh on Keeping Her Accent and Being a Starfleet Captain

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A new interview with Star Trek: Discovery actress Michelle Yeoh – aka Captain Philippa Georgiou of the USS Shenzhouarrived yesterday from CBS News, where the Malaysian star spoke on her role as a mentor to her Starfleet crew, a future with gender equality, and her own accent staying on screen for her role in the series.

First, she expanded more upon her previous comments about Captain Georgiou as a starship commander.

Captain Georgiou is an explorer by heart. She loves the universe – but she is a war veteran, and now is a time of peace in the Federation. She is one who still has hope for humanity; she believes very, very strongly that there is goodness out there – and [the Federation] will always work from that point of view, which is one of Starfleet’s principles.

We do not stick a weapon out [and say we] come to take your territory; we come in friendship. We work for equality, freedom, and cooperation – and that is what [makes up] the principles of who she is.

I love the fact that she has a great sense of humor. When she is on her bridge, her bridge is her family, and you can see the respect and the love. It’s like she is the father and the mother of them, and they trust her implicitly with whatever she tells them to do because she will navigate them away from danger and always into safety – and she nurtures them, she teaches them… and that is what I think a captain does.

She also spoke to her character as a strong woman of power, and how it’s representative of the hopeful Star Trek future we’ve come to know.

I’m so blessed that the filmmakers, you know, the showrunners feel that I represent such a strong, empowering role.

It is a blessing to be given the opportunity to make a stand, and say, ‘This is for the future. Whoever can do the job, just get it done – it doesn’t matter whether you’re a man, or a woman, or what race, because in the future, we are one race. We are humans. We’re from the planet Earth, and we work together; we protect our home.’

And it is important, because today we fight those battles, you know, sustainable development goals – one of them is gender equality, and empowerment of women. So it goes up there with the eradication of poverty.

You would hope that ‘Star Trek’ – which is set 200 years later – that all this would be definitely a thing of the past.

Finally, the actress addressed a question on if there had been discussions on her adopting a different accent for her Discovery role, like fellow captain Jason Issacs.

None of the showrunners, or my director, would come up to me and say, ‘Can you give me an American accent?’ They embraced [my accent] from the word ‘go.’ I think what’s really interesting about my accent is that it’s not American or British.

It’s sort of in-betweeen. Sometimes you hear certain words, and you think, ‘That sounds a little American, right?’ And then you hear something, ‘That sounds kind of British!’ Then, ‘That sounds a little Asian.’ But that’s what I am.

Star Trek: Discovery warps into action next Sunday night. Stay tuned for more news throughout the week as it breaks!

  • Quintillion Tesla

    So excited STAR TREK can now gather movie actors of the calibre of Michelle Yeoh, Jason Isaacs, and Doug Jones to be on a Trek TV show ( alongside the other really fresh actors ).

    And yet – sigh…one just has to follow the video link to the youtube page to be confronted with nonsense yet again about DSC being “SJW”, “Orville is better”, and patently ignorant comments that Michelle Yeoh can barely speak English ( even though it’s her first language ).

    • Karl

      There’s one particularly magnificent comment there about Disco being far from Roddenberry’s vision and how appalled the writer is by its “Liberal feminist content”. Sometimes all you can do is roll your eyes!

    • prometheus59650

      TOS, despite some sexism as an unavoidable product of the era, was SJW all day long.

      That said, for many reasons, “The Orville” is not better. I’ve watched it, it’s passable. But it’s not funny so it doesn’t work as a comedy and McFarlane is out of his depth with the drama.

      • Quintillion Tesla

        The Orville seems to just be a continuation of the bland Berman & Braga era of Trek. It doesn’t even operate as a spoof or parody – it’s literally rehashing TNG’s format and setting with a few added “jokes” peppered here and there.

        • prometheus59650

          Even the publicity shots on the bridge of the ship, my first thought was, “Damn, all that’s missing is the wood veneer horseshoe behind the command chairs.”

          • TowandaSSanborn

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        • iMike

          Think back to Seth’s appearances/commentary on the TNG Blu-Ray docs. He clearly has a passion for Trek, most especially TNG. Therefore, why would ‘Orville’ look like anything other than TNG-era Trek? It is a parody, you just have to have an appreciation for his sense of humor. He may love Trek, but we’re talking about the guy who gave us ‘Family Guy,’ ‘American Dad,’ and ‘The Cleveland Show.’ I don’t understand why anyone is taking ‘Orville’ as anything beyond satire.

          • RoseACarver

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          • Pedro Ferreira

            Him and Braga get what’s wrong with serialised storytelling today.

        • Pedro Ferreira

          Cool, it’s probably good then!

      • M33

        I’d differ on the SJW part.
        Championing equality, civil rights, the rights of the individual, a merit-based-jobs system–those were TOS’s messages.
        Social justice, per the modern definition, is “justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society” ; an example being “individuality gives way to the struggle for social justice”.
        Note that nowhere in that definition is “equality” the goal. “Justice” is the goal there.

        I think Kirk summed up the TOS society best with this:

        “Maybe we weren’t meant for paradise. Maybe we were meant to fight our way through, struggle, claw our way up, scratch for every inch of the way.”

        Just my two cents, though.

        I do agree with you, however, that McFarlane is the weakest actor of the bunch in Orville.

        • Pedro Ferreira

          He doesn’t get it, that’s the problem.

      • pittrek

        You obviously don’t know what SJW means. And sexism in TOS? Where except the first few episodes like Mudd’s Women?

        “Better” is a very subjective term. I haven’t seen it yet, but some people claim it’s not funny while others claim it’s great, so… everybody has different tastes.

        • prometheus59650

          Throughout the show.

          “Gamesters of Triskellion”- Cheap 60s cliche alien girl, dressed in nothing, and a wide-eyed innocent that needs to be shown “love.”

          “Is there in Truth No Beauty?” – Hey, let’s not even TRY to sit this serious, accomplished woman down and lay out why Spock needs to go to Kollos, let’s just …lol…overwhelm her with Kirk-brand testosterone until she swoons.

          Should I go on?

          That’s right… everybody has their own opinion and I never claimed otherwise, but, IN MY OPINION “The Orville” is simply doing what McFarlane has gotten rich doing: ripping what others have done and done better. And I say that AS a huge fan of “Family Guy.”

          Do I REALLY, when posting here, or anywhere, for that matter, have to preface everything I write with, “in my opinion?”

          Who else’s opinion would it be? Where am I telling people that they MUST think like me?

          (eye roll)

        • Pedro Ferreira

          The people who reject the term SJW clearly don’t know what it is which is why we get nonsense like Roddenberry being an SJW.

      • Pedro Ferreira

        “TOS, despite some sexism as an unavoidable product of the era, was SJW all day long.” No please don’t insult TOS by saying that thank you.

        • prometheus59650

          I’m sorry the truth upsets you, though it seems to do that a lot, so it’s probably best to avoid things that make you uncomfortable

          And, really, someone who couldn’t post a cogent argument if they were paid to do so isn’t in a position to tell anyone what they get or don’t.

          • Pedro Ferreira

            So you’re comparing Star Trek to the work of the far left, the Antifa?

            http://blog.gentlemint.com/media/photos/colbert-slow-clap.gif

          • prometheus59650

            LOL.

            Thank you for proving that you can’t post a cogent point.

            Furthermore, you prove you don’t even know what Antifa is. They’re not far lefties. They’re a gaggle of Libertarians and Anarchists.

            And you’d know that if you knew what books were.

          • Pedro Ferreira

            Oh really? Is that why they’re started conflict and war against those on the right? I think it’s you who needs to do some research pal. You also need to get a pair of glasses so you can see.

          • prometheus59650

            Apparently we can add ‘current events’ to the things you only have a surface understanding of.

    • Pedro Ferreira

      Well they have a point about it being SJW when that’s the only thing they’re promoting yeah.

  • Admiral SnackBar

    I’m taking a very “wait and see” approach to DSC (some of that trailer dialogue I’ve heard from several of the actors is so clunky sounding — and that has to do with writing/delivery, not accents), but I’ve been onboard with Yeoh’s hiring from day one. I’ve been a fan since SUPERCOP.

    • CAPTAIN D-MAN

      Which one? Police Story 3 or the one where she’s the star?

    • M33

      Gotta say, best handle I’ve ever seen!

  • TUP

    For you canon junkies, if she is a war veteran and this is before the Klingon war, what war would she be a veteran of?

    • Perplexum

      There is no war we know of in the 23rd century.

      • TUP

        There was the Romulan War but that would have been over too long before she was in Star Fleet, right? I wonder what that refers to then.

        Maybe she was engaged in skirmishes with the Klingons during the events that led to Michael’s parents being killed.

        • Quintillion Tesla

          I imagine there could be numerous domestic ( wars on a single planet ) that might might have taken place, rather than big, interstellar wars necessarily.

          • M33

            Federation “peacekeeping missions”, perhaps?

          • Perplexum

            I read somewhere that they used “The Final Reflection” as a blue print for their Klingon story (which would be really cool). In this book, the Klingons were a big, ominous thread, raiding Fed ships and taking them and their crew as “prizes” back home. Their Fleet was so large and technically superior, that many Starfleet members lost friends or family to them. In the book, the Klingons were actually the only thing that held the Federation together at this point, because everybody was scared shitless of them, basically.

          • M33

            It is a good idea.
            ENT established the Klingons pretty much hated Earth.

        • Perplexum

          That’s right. The Rom war was a 100 years prior and nobody heared from them again until TOS. There is supposed to be an event 30 years before DIS, in 2218, where the Federation were budding heads with the Klingons, but that’s more semi-canon.

        • prometheus59650

          There might have been wars but that were smaller skirmishes comparatively speaking.

          I mean, in TNG the Federation/Cardassian war had relevance but it never seemed like anything close to some galactic conflict.

          So she might be a vet of something like that.

        • M33

          Maybe she ages really really really well…

      • M33

        See my post above

    • This whole era is a big old blank spot.

    • M33

      The Sheliak…?

    • pittrek

      I gave up already my hope that this will somehow fit in the prime universe continuity

    • AmiRami

      I was thinking Romulan but that would have been way before 10 years prior to Trek.

  • Perplexum

    Regarding the accent: If she is supposed to be a greek (with asian heritage) it’s quite fitting if it doesn’t sound american or british.

    • M33

      She could have just married a Greek guy.

      • Perplexum

        She has both a greek first and last name, though.

        • M33

          Fair point.
          But after a couple hundred years of interculturalism, I would doubt that people would solely name their children with names only of their regional ancestry.
          It is plausible that she was given a greek first name and then married a greek herself from her years of interest in greek culture influenced by her given name.

          Or she has a Greek ancestor.
          Anything is possible.
          And keeping ethnic names for ethnic looks in an integrated culture after a few hundred years seems kinda silly… to me anyway.

          • Perplexum

            “But after a couple hundred years of interculturalism, I would doubt that people would solely name their children with names only of their regional ancestry.”
            Lots of (mostly american) folk in Star Trek shows taught me otherwise. Still no Mohandas Sisko or Mehmet Archer in sight. That being said, I’m always happy to hear some names with a different cultural background, like Philippa Georgiou.

          • M33

            I know a white guy named with the given name Ananda.
            Plenty of Asian ancestry folks with English names in Hawaii here.
            Known plenty of black folks with arabic first names.
            Caucasian guys here with Hawaiian names.
            My point is that I agree, in the Hollywood mindset, names in Trek shows often slant to the Western types, but over time this would likely be less and less.

            And the more I think about it, Phillipa has become more of a general names not necessarily associated as Greek. Example: author Phillipa Gregory, whose ancestry is English.
            So… she still coulda married a greek! 😊

          • M33

            And by the way, I like the cultural blending of names as well.

    • Pedro Ferreira

      She sounds like she’s from Hong Kong.

  • Tom

    Yeoh: “I think it’s time that you have your own command.”

    Did anyone notice that they’re using a different take of this scene? In the first promo trailer, the way that she says this line is completely different. She says “it is” instead of “it’s” in the trailer.

    The transporter effect is also different. Way less of a defined digital grid in the final version.

    • Perplexum

      Seems like they changed a few things in post production. Just like with the whip itself. In one of the last promo videos, you see graphics of the Discovery with short nacelles again and they alway try to obscure this part of the ship with light on posters and such. As if they are still on the fence if they want the ship to be longer or shorter.

      • Tom

        A theory is that the nacelle extends for warp (or the experimental warp). That’d be interesting.

        • AmiRami

          Kinda like how Voyager’s nacelle’s bend position for WARP? My own head canon dictates this was to avoid WARP destroying subspace as seen in TNG.

    • Quintillion Tesla

      Trailers, promos, teasers, etc. very often use alternate takes, or alternate snippets of dialogue when compared to the actual finished show or movie.

      • Tom

        That’s common sense. This adds nothing to the discussion about the particular differences.

  • Legolars

    I love Michelle Yeoh and am excited she’ll play a part in this show. Unfortunately, I doubt we’ll see her in any episodes beyond “Battle of the Binary Stars”.

  • Good, its nice to see a non american or British accent.

    • M33

      It does open up an interesting question:

      Is the Federation standard language English?

      Or is everyone communicating with universal translators?
      TOS’s “Metamorphosis” indicates otherwise.

      Soooo…
      Whaddya think, sirs?

      • I think what we see is always just an interpretation limited by studios and Budget. I am not sure it would be English, much less American English( which the show uses)

        • M33

          By that reasoning, then, would the standard language for the Federation and Starfleet be something else?
          Mandarin Chinese?
          Vulcan?
          But we are hearing it as English?
          It is an interesting question, because we have encountered numerous people from other countries who have told me specifically they speak English because it is the international language of commerce, given that America is the last superpower and affects every nation on the globe by its presence and decisions.
          Is it possible that in Trek American preeminece has diminished by 2053 when WWIII occurs?

          • Good point. The first Humans visited where Americans. So it may have stuck. Although you would think all the Big four would be common, with Vulcan being a tech lingo or something.

          • M33

            True. But given the animosity towards the Vulcans, it is possible that whatever the Earth standard was mighr have beem considered to be a neutral language.

            Complicated business…

          • True, but Starfleet was more than just earth, same with the federation. Honestly, I think they should play up the Andorian influence in starfleet more. I can not help feel like Humans and Andorians made up the bulk of the early starfleet.

          • M33

            Yeah, possibly.
            Wouldn’t it be funny if Tellarite was the Federation default?
            LOL

          • Heh, they may argue for and against that. Its been debated since the founding, they’ll let everyone know when the debate ends.

          • AmiRami

            Well DS9 established there are crews in Star Fleet that are comprised of a single race of ppl (in this case Vulcan) so maybe different ships operate with different languages depending on the situation?

      • AmiRami

        UT def helps but in a crisis situation if it malfunctions the crew need to be able to communicate so I would think a common language would be a must. Not saying it has to be English tho.

        Having said that while Mandarin might be the most widely spoken language I think today English is the most recognized given how much of the Internet is written in English.

    • Pedro Ferreira

      Where’s the British accent? Not Issacs that’s for sure!

  • Tom Cruise Never Phones It IN

    Because Trek has never had a captain with an accent…

    • M33

      Picard’s French accent was terrible…

      LOL

      • Your Worst Nightmare

        TRUE!

      • Almost like it was Britsh, almost 🤣

        • M33

          😂!

        • SpaceCadet

          His relatives all sounded very British too. I guess you can just chalk it up to more of a cross-cultural world in the future!

          • Translator malfunction 😀

          • M33

            Good ol’ British superiority!

      • AmiRami

        HAHAHA!!!

    • mr joyce

      NOT very well said

  • Fiery Little One

    I’m definitely happy to see her in a captain’s chair, regardless of how long it turns out to be.

  • M33

    “It is a blessing to be given the opportunity to make a stand, and say, ‘This is for the future. Whoever can do the job, just get it done – it doesn’t matter whether you’re a man, or a woman, or what race, because in the future, we are one race. We are humans. We’re from the planet Earth, and we work together; we protect our home.’”

    THIS is Star Trek.
    These are the ultimate principles of classical liberalism.
    Not what we “look” like, but what we can “do”.
    To quote Dr. King: “to be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

    • ShaunKL

      Except for Jason Isaacs, he needs an American accent apparently. 😕

      • M33

        Hey, Kelvin McCoy is a Kiwi with an American accent.
        It isn’t the first time.

        Besides, the producers needed the “white American male” to be the “unstable crazy one”, it seems.

      • AmiRami

        I’m still kinda hoping he is actually playing Garth of Izar.

      • Tom Cruise Never Phones It IN

        Why can’t he have an ‘American’ accent?

        • Pedro Ferreira

          Wel his British accent is absolutely fine and doesn’t sound fake.

      • Pedro Ferreira

        I know, bunch of idiot producers.

  • AmiRami

    “We do not stick a weapon out [and say we] come to take your territory; we come in friendship. ”

    *shows a pic of her sticking out a weapon*

    LOL

    I kid I kid.

    And its silly to even think she would need an American accent. I mean why would she? the UPF is comprised of not only every nation state on Earth but dozens of worlds.

  • Andy Walmacher

    Thankfully she will be killed off just like Discovery is killed off when it goes down in flames after CBS realizes that their wild bet that sycophantic Star Trek fans were not enough to sustain the all access, and that casual watchers really did not want to pay for yet another streaming service.

  • I like the fact that Yeoh’s character keeps her accent. There are way too many American characters in Star Trek, and sometimes foreign language characters played by Americans with badly imitated accents. I would wish Discovery had a bit more diversity regarding the other roles. But they all seem to be standard Americans or Brits.

    • Tom Cruise Never Phones It IN

      ? They are pushing the diversity angle hard, it is pretty much all they have said about the show.

      • Perplexum

        Where is that diversity though? The crew has one alien, one Indian (I assume) and maybe Lorca is latin american or spanish and that’s it.

  • Pedro Ferreira

    “None of the showrunners, or my director, would come up to me and say, ‘Can you give me an American accent?’” Erm is she even capable of doing an American accent?