‘Star Trek: Discovery’: How A Klingon Expert Was Essential To Creating The Most Authentic Portrayal Yet. Executive producer Alex Kurtzman, star Kenneth Mitchell, and “the best Klingon speaker in Canada” reveal the level of detail that went into every moment the warrior race was on screen.—Liz Shannon Miller, IndieWire
“It would’ve felt very inauthentic, and I think people would’ve been upset by the idea that we were having the Klingons speaking in English,” Kurtzman said.
So, that meant the Klingons were going to speak Klingon, in lengthy scenes which aimed to develop these characters and this culture beyond typical bad guy tropes. “We know that Klingon is a language that has evolved for over 50 years. People are married in Klingon. They speak Klingon to each other. Which means we can’t get it wrong,” he said.
“We all looked at each other and embraced arms and said, ‘Fine. We’re going to do this. We’re going to write long scenes in Klingon, and we’re going to ask the audience to read the subtitles …”
Mitchell is fairly convinced that many of the people with whom he’s worked have no idea what he looks like underneath his Klingon make-up, including the directors. He and his fellow Klingons were often the first cast members to arrive each day for the three-and-a-half hour prosthetics process. “I realized that ‘I gotta stop this. I gotta meet the directors before I get into my prosthetics, because this is just too weird,’” he said. “And I still am meeting crew members or certain cast members who have never seen me before, outside of my makeup. It’s kind of funny.”
Meanwhile, his “Discovery” compatriots were having a very different experience on set. “One time I went over to visit the Federation side, and there they were: All the cast are in their chairs. It’s bright, they’re laughing, they’re on their cell phones, they’re telling stories,” he said. “And it’s not like that in the Klingon world. We’re all just trying to stay sane. We can’t even use our phones because we have prosthetic hands. It’s a totally different atmosphere.”