Now that the first season of Star Trek: Discovery has ended, actress Mary Chieffo, who plays the tough L’Rell is able to speak fully about L’Rell and her journey throughout the season. Note: There will be spoilers for the recently-aired episodes.
It wasn’t set in stone that L’Rell would become the person responsible for trying to unify the twenty-four Klingon houses. “It was definitely something that was found over time,” said Chieffo. “It was not something that when I got the role they were like, ‘Oh, and then you’re going to become the leader of the Klingon empire.’ I was like, ‘Oh, OK.’ It’s such a tribute to Aaron [Harberts] and Gretchen [Berg] and the entire writers’ room and team and all of our EPs. Because what really ended up happening was they saw who L’Rell was becoming, particularly in episode 4, and they knew that they wanted her to be the one who came up with the plan for the Voq-Tyler situation. But once they really saw that there was stuff going on, just chemistry-wise and what not, they really ended up developing her arc more and more.”
“I believe in the arc so much,” said Chieffo. “I’m proud of it because you see a woman who is in this patriarchal society, who has learned how to survive by living in the shadows, working from the sidelines, and a lot of her behavior seems duplicitous or manipulative because that’s just how she knows how to get by, and she’s always been the fuel behind these male Klingons. But as we see, T’Kuvma gets killed, Kol gets killed, and Voq, as a consequence of all this craziness, ends up being lost as well.
“I really appreciated that they saw that this is happening and realized that in a certain way she’s been the one who has been the strongest and has been the smartest, even though she doesn’t realize that about herself. She is the Klingon that we do want to invest in. I think what Burnham realizes is she is the last believer of this larger message of unification. L’Rell also comes to realize on her own terms that the way in which T’Kuvma believed that the Klingon should be unified, which was in war against the Federation, is not working. That’s what she really comes to terms with in 14 and 15, is that we’re out-of-control and they need someone. And Sarek says that without a concrete leader that they’re just scattered all over the place. To me, I’m humbled as an actor to get to have that journey, and then just as an audience member I’m really proud of how much of a nuance sort of feminist story it has become in that way.”
So what about the future? “L’Rell still may lean towards not wanting to trust humans because that’s been her entire existence,” but “when she sees another person, whether they’re another Klingon or another human or whatnot, when she sees that they are smart, that they have some sort of larger plan, I think she respects that. I think that as a Klingon, respect is extremely important to L’Rell.”
Source: Rotten Tomatoes