COVER: KEN­NETH MITCHELL

From North York to the new ‘Star Trek: Dis­cov­ery’ series

North York Post - - Contents - by Catalina Mar­gulis

Be pre­pared to see a lot more of Ken­neth Mitchell, only you might not rec­og­nize him with all the pros­thet­ics and wardrobe cov­er­ing him. As the Klin­gon leader Kol in the new Star Trek series, Star Trek: Dis­cov­ery, Mitchell joins an all-star cast that in­cludes Ja­son Isaacs, Michelle Yeoh, Doug Jones and Sonequa Martin-Green of The Walk­ing Dead.

“It’s amaz­ing to be a part of some­thing that’s so iconic,” says Mitchell. “It’s not of­ten you get to check off all the boxes on a project, and this one does.The en­sem­ble is amaz­ing. I feel re­ally blessed.”

Grow­ing up in North York, Mitchell ac­tu­ally grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of Guelph with a de­gree in land­scape ar­chi­tec­ture be­fore turn­ing his sights on Hol­ly­wood.

“I lived at Bayview and Shep­pard, be­tween Bayview and Leslie. My par­ents still live in the same house that I grew up in,” he shares.

Still, early brushes with fame and per­for­mance made it seem he was des­tined for the big time. Mitchell went to Elkorn Pub­lic School with Sarah Pol­ley and at­tended David Roten­berg’s on­cam­era mas­ter class with Rachel McA­dams. He also went to Earl Haig Se­condary with Scott Speed­man, who be­came a good friend and at­tended Mitchell’s wed­ding to fel­low ac­tor Su­san May Pratt. To­day, Mitchell and Pratt live in Stu­dio City, L.A., with their two chil­dren, Li­lah and Kal­lum. But he still vis­its his Toronto fam­ily and friends ev­ery chance he gets.

“When I do come back home, I can see how ev­ery­thing changes on a monthly ba­sis.The neigh­bour­hood is grow­ing ex­po­nen­tially. When I come home, I love to walk to Bayview Vil­lage mall and check out the neigh­bour­hood. I love shar­ing that with my fam­ily now, show­ing them where my best friend used to live and tak­ing the kids to the lo­cal park.”

Film­ing Star Trek: Dis­cov­ery at Toronto’s Pinewood Stu­dios also af­forded Mitchell lots of time to con­nect with his Toronto friends and fam­ily — time that may be soon on the wane, if the show’s early buzz is any­thing to go by.

“It’s been 11 or 12 years since the last series. We want to hon­our ev­ery­thing that’s come be­fore us but also push for­ward, push new bound­aries. I haven’t seen a full cut of the episodes, but from what I’ve seen, the feel­ing on set, the scripts I’ve read, it feels re­ally good. The qual­ity is there, and the sto­ries we’re telling, the char­ac­ters and the re­la­tion­ships, it’s all there. I’m re­ally ex­cited for the fans to see it,” says Mitchell, who adds the show is set roughly 10 years prior to the orig­i­nal series.“So we’re still us­ing the gad­gets and tech­nol­ogy be­fore that series, but giving it an up­grade in terms of its look.” Mitchell also re­ally en­joyed tak­ing on the role of Kol. “He is a great war­rior, a bit of an al­pha, who doesn’t see eye to eye with one of the other Klin­gon lead­ers. He also doesn’t re­spect or get along well with the Fed­er­a­tion. He feels that they’re al­ways try­ing to change the Klin­gons, take away their iden­tity.”

Play­ing the Klin­gon role was chal­leng­ing in more ways than one. For the part, Mitchell had to learn to speak Klin­gon — as part of the show’s ap­proach, Klin­gons speak Klin­gon with each other, which is trans­lated into sub­ti­tles.

“It’s an in­cred­i­bly com­plex, gut­tural, very for­eign lan­guage. It’s pretty much the op­po­site of English,” says Mitchell. “It was a mas­sive chal­lenge to learn my lines in Klin­gon, but it be­came in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing. When you get to set and you start to con­nect with the other ac­tors who are speak­ing the lan­guage and you start to con­nect with the words and the emo­tions, it re­ally feels like an op­er­atic dance. You might not nec­es­sar­ily un­der­stand what you’re say­ing, but with the emo­tion, the feel­ings will come through. It’s a re­ally beau­ti­ful thing to ex­pe­ri­ence and watch.”

Pros­thet­ics take three and a half hours to get in and about 45 min­utes to an hour to get out of. Then there’s the wardrobe, which takes an­other 30 to 45 min­utes to get into, and the eye con­tacts.

“When you start get­ting your wardrobe to­gether, your pros­thet­ics, and your teeth are in, and the eye con­tacts are in, you can’t help but feel alien,” Mitchell says.

He shares that there was even a Klin­gon nu­tri­tion­ist on set, to help keep the ac­tors hy­drated and healthy.

“She’d whip up or­ganic smooth­ies all day, and we’d sip them through a straw, so it wouldn’t mess with the pros­thet­ics. And they had these unique seats for us, so we wouldn’t ruin the wardrobe — they made these cof­fin-like chairs that we stand/lie down in on an an­gle.”

Be­sides Klin­gon speak and up­dated pro­duc­tion, there’s an­other in­ter­est­ing thing about this series — the age of social me­dia.“One of the great things about launch­ing in the world of social me­dia is we have the op­por­tu­nity to im­me­di­ately in­ter­act with the fans,’ Mitchell says. “The peo­ple I’ve been in­ter­act­ing with and the buzz I feel is in­cred­i­ble. Ev­ery­one is re­ally ex­cited; they’ve been wait­ing. Star Trek fans are the ul­ti­mate group of fans. For a show that hasn’t been on for a long time to have such a high level of buzz, it’s amaz­ing.”

It’s a long way for a boy from North York, who dis­cov­ered a pas­sion for act­ing dur­ing his sum­mers at camp. So how did the land­scape ar­chi­tect end up in Hol­ly­wood any­way?

“I went to this sum­mer camp, and while I was work­ing there one sum­mer I met this girl, a Cana­dian ac­tress. After some time, we started dat­ing, and she in­tro­duced me to her agent at a party, and I told him about my love of per­form­ing. He told me to come in and read for him. He was one of the big­gest agents in Canada. I per­formed a scene from Tommy Boy for him, which is ab­so­lutely ridicu­lous, and he sent me back out­side with some sides to pre­pare. I cold read the scene with him, and he just saw some­thing in me. I booked my first job the first au­di­tion I had and quickly started act­ing.” Roles in Mir­a­cle, Jeri­cho and The Astro

naut Wives’ Club fol­lowed. “It’s been an amaz­ing jour­ney. There’s been ups and downs, but I take a lot of pride in my achieve­ments and be­ing on Star Trek is cer­tainly one of them.”

New episodes air Sun­days at 8 p.m. on Space and also stream on CraveTV Mon­days at 8 p.m.

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