Michelle Yeoh is more in demand than ever following her Best Actress Oscar win for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” but she hasn’t forgotten her friends in the 23rd century.
The actress is beaming up to be part of “Star Trek” once again for a “Star Trek: Discovery” spinoff movie event for Paramount+, titled “Section 31.” Yeoh was part of the recurring cast of “Discovery” since the show launched in 2017, first playing the benevolent Capt. Philippa Georgiou, then spending far more time onscreen as her evil Mirror Universe twin, Empress Georgiou of the Terran Empire.
Empress Georgiou was transported into “our” universe, which, with the Federation and its emphasis on exploration, is as far different from the conquest-minded fascist Terran Empire as anything could be. Except that there’s a secret faction within Starfleet Intelligence called Section 31 which has always embraced an “ends justify the means” approach to preserving the security of the Federation — and they recruited the ruthless Georgiou to be a strategist for them at the first opportunity (in “Discovery” Season 2).
“Star Trek” has been on a particular tear on the small screen lately. The final season of “Picard” ends this week and could not have been received better, while “Strange New Worlds” and “Lower Decks” received multi-season renewals, and a “Starfleet Academy” spinoff series was greenlit to follow “Discovery,” which will end in 2024.
A “Section 31” series had been announced as being in development some years ago, but there hadn’t been any new word about the project as Yeoh’s stature in Hollywood continued to rise, culminating in her Oscar win. “Star Trek” has certainly built storylines around legendary actors before — Ricardo Montalban, Christopher Plummer, Jean Simmons, Norman Lloyd, Louise Fletcher, F. Murray Abraham, as well as Amanda Plummer, who’s brought a particular indie-film, “Pulp Fiction”-unhinged ethos to this final season of “Picard” — but never one coming off the industry’s highest triumph in winning an Oscar right before setting phasers to stun.
One might have thought the “Section 31” concept was dead in the water after Yeoh’s win, but it’s a testament to the positive experience she had in the franchise that she wants to come back, even if for a “movie event” that undoubtedly will require less of a commitment than a series would have.
And Yeoh seems to be, ahem, beaming with excitement about it. “I’m beyond thrilled to return to my ‘Star Trek’ family and to the role I’ve loved for so long,” she said in a statement. “Section 31 has been near and dear to my heart since I began the journey of playing Philippa all the way back when this new golden age of ‘Star Trek’ launched. To see her finally get her moment is a dream come true in a year that’s shown me the incredible power of never giving up on your dreams. We can’t wait to share what’s in store for you, and until then: live long and prosper (unless Emperor Georgiou decrees otherwise)!”
Production on “Star Trek: Section 31” begins later this year, meaning we’ll likely see the project in 2024.