Jason Isaacs on the Highs and Lows of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’


“Weirdly, I don’t look at the lines ever before I go to set. You can always absorb it during rehearsal.” – Jason Isaacs

Star Trek: Discovery is the first Star Trek series since Star Trek: Enterprise launched in 2001. That makes Jason Isaacs — who plays Captain Gabriel Lorca — the first original television Star Trek captain in nearly two decades. The Harry Potter star spoke to Entertainment Weekly about joining the Star Trek universe and is surprisingly candid about what he doesn’t enjoy about being on the series as well as what it has in common with his other acting performances.

Unlike most actors, Isaacs is open to admitting what aspects of his role aren’t enjoyable — mostly the scenes that require him to act against what isn’t there. He explains, “Scenes that are really fun are scenes between human beings where you’re talking to someone else. There are lots of those in the show. It’s a very different show from other Star Treks. There’s a lot more emotional and personal interaction than plot. What you saw was a weird thing because I’m looking at a screen and it’s going to cut to a bunch of ships and things blowing up. I like scenes that are about people. What you look for as an actor is stuff that’s engaging on a human level. Weirdly, I don’t look at the lines ever before I go to set. You can always absorb it during rehearsal. But when it’s 25 non-sequiturs about ships blowing up, it’s actually hard to do.”

In fact, Isaacs reveals that when he was offered the role he felt, “Terror really.” He continues, “Just the idea of sitting in the captain’s chair having grown up watching this. Anything that scares me is something I run towards, so I tend to jump off buildings and out of planes and accept public speaking engagements, things that make the general public quake in their boots. It seemed like a ludicrous and terrifying notion.”

Nonetheless, Isaacs points out that with all the high-tech special effects and popularity of Star Trek, the importance is to remember to act as he normally would. He says, “The challenge is to stay truthful to what’s inside it and not get swept away by plot and effects and toys. In the end, it’s exactly the same as doing dinner theater. Something truthful and interesting has to happen between people. If it’s just reciting plot, people just tune out.”