Why Michelle Yeoh Is Returning to ‘Star Trek’ After Her Historic Oscar Win (Exclusive)

“She had a million reasons not to come back and she did,” executive producer Alex Kurtzman tells TheWrap

Michelle Yeoh's new fame as an Oscar winner complicated her return to "Star Trek."

Paramount+ announced earlier this week that Michelle Yeoh would reprise her role as Phillipa Georgiou from “Star Trek: Discovery” in a standalone movie event.

Production on the movie, titled “Star Trek: Section 31,” will begin later this year. The film will “follow Georgiou as she joins a secret division of Starfleet tasked with protecting the United Federation of Planets and faces the sins of her past.”

“Section 31” was initially announced as a series back in 2019. But then the pandemic hit and Yeoh’s career trajectory changed thanks to a role in a movie called “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Last month, Yeoh won the Best Actress Oscar for portraying an immigrant mom struggling with her interpersonal relationships and her laundry business.

But despite her newfound status, Yeoh said she’s “beyond thrilled” to return to the “Star Trek” franchise.

“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,” the actress said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”

Executive producer Alex Kurtzman said he’s grateful for her return but mindful of her commitments.

“We happen to have a star who literally lit up the entire planet, and is now quite in demand,” Kurtzman told TheWrap at Wednesday’s “Picard” finale screening. “And I wanted to make sure that we were able to build this in a way that was respectful of her time and respectful of everything that she has more than earned for herself.”

“I adore Michelle so much,” he continued. “We’re very close. And she had a million reasons not to come back. And she did. And I will always be grateful to her for that. And I think she did because she’s so dedicated to the fans, and she’s so dedicated to the character and because we had a great time. So I’m excited for what’s in store. I think we get to do something really great.”

Akiva Goldsman, who directed Yeoh on “Discovery,” agrees.

“I remember an episode which I directed, where we actually sort of created these slightly darker versions of the characters. And Michelle ate it up,” he recalls. “She can do anything and she’ll do this amazing.”

Instead of a series, Georgiou’s story will be contained to a feature film, a first for the “Trek” franchise on Paramount+.

“Some stories are better told in two hours, some stories are better told in ten over multiple seasons,” Kurtzman explained.

The character of Philippa Georgiou was first introduced as Michael Burnham’s (Sonequa Martin-Green) commanding officer and mentor aboard the U.S.S. Shenzhou. Captain Georgiou was killed in battle with the Klingons in the second episode of “Discovery.”

Michelle Yeoh as the sadistic Emperor Georgiou (Photo credit: Paramount+)

An alternate universe version of Georgiou — one far more scheming and sadistic — was introduced later that season and journeyed with the “Discovery” crew 900 years into the future. When we last saw her, this Georgiou was teleported back into the past by the Guardian of Forever. It’s presumed she’ll link up with Section 31, Starfleet’s Black Ops division, in this 23rd-century timeline.

There’s no word yet if any “Discovery” talent will crossover to the “Star Trek: Section 31” movie.

Olatunde Osunsanmi will direct a script written by Craig Sweeny. Alex Kurtzman, Craig Sweeny, Aaron Baiers, Olatunde Osunsanmi, Frank Siracusa, John Weber, Rod Roddenberry, Trevor Roth and Michelle Yeoh serve as executive producers. The film is produced by CBS Studios in association with Secret Hideout and Roddenberry Entertainment.